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SCRAP Fieldschool 2008: Survey and Testing, Jefferson & Randolph, NH
 
2008 Field School The 2008 SCRAP prehistoric field school, co-sponsored with Plymouth State University, was held from June 24 through July 18. The objectives were to pursue more clearly defining site boundaries on the Potter Site in Randolph and the Jefferson V site in Jefferson. Over 45 individuals participated coming from as close as the host communites and from as far away as the Mojave Desert. Needless to say, the wet summer was a surprise for more than just the locals.
SCRAP 2008 Field School

 

The first two week session of the field school focused on the Potter Site. Originally identified in 2003, SCRAP has been investigating the site in the 2004 field school and yearly as part of the Octoberfest field sessions. Nearly 400 shovel test pits had been excavated in order to identify the site boundaries; however the site limits had not been fully defined. This is due not only to the large size of the site, but to the dense stands of small pines and thick sections of dead and fallen trees blocked access to several areas. Consequently this year an intensive campaign of tree cutting was launched to open up survey transects. Marshalltown trowels were traded in for Stihl chainsaws, Kevlar chaps and safety helmets.  We were rewarded with a substantial expansion of the site in three directions and the recovery of a significant number of diagnostic Paleoindian tools. For example, in one shovel test we recovered a biface tip, a side scraper, an end scraper made of Munsungun chert, and a channel flake. Another shovel test yielded the base of a fluted point, also made of Munsungun, which was just four meters from another pit that contained a pair of channel flakes. Although several days of ardent stp survey were invested, we were still unable to fully define the limits of the site. The STPs on the (supposed) rim of the site continued to produce a low but persistent number of flakes and tools. Fluted Point Intervale, NH

 
2008 Field School The second session saw us turn our attention to the Jefferson V Site at Pat Bacon’s Roka Farm in Jefferson. Previously in 2007 Kurt Masters found bifaces (including one with a flute) in close proximity to large rhyolite cobbles. These raw material specimens strongly indicated the presence of a natural source of rhyolite which was identical to that used on many of the Paleoindian sites in Jefferson as well as other sites in the Northeast. Over 65 shovel test pits were excavated around the rhyolite cobbles; however it became apparent that erosion during the 19th and early 20th centuries had removed much of the topsoil, leaving behind a deflated gravelly subsoil. In fact, over half of the shovel tests were in extremely wet and mucky soils. Although the crew valiantly managed to excavate the soggy shovel tests, only two small flakes and a few specimens of raw material were recovered. We had hoped that we could identify a quarry area with associate workshops. Tool making areas had been identified relatively close by in previous investigations in 1999 and 2000 but no additional areas were found during this field school. This was something of a surprise and clearly a disappointment.

Fluted Point 2008

 
2008 Field School

Consequently, for the last week of the field school we returned to the unfinished business at the Potter Site to resume our effort to fix the boundaries of the site. Interestingly, while we were able to further expand the limits of the site with more finds including a new concentration of scrapers and yet another recovery of a fragment of a fluted point, we had only limited success in bounding the site. We now have well over 500 STPs excavated on the site covering nearly two acres but with boundaries established on only two sides. Clearly the work to establish the limits of the Potter site is not complete. We have learned that the site is much larger than anticipated and that it contains at least three more areas of artifact concentration. 

On balance, we have to say that the 2008 field school was successful. Although we did not document any quarry/workshops at the site in Jefferson, we did document solid geological evidence establishing a source for the Jefferson rhyolite. Further research may yet identify associated (and maybe even dry) workshops. In Randolph, we were able to expand the known limits of the Potter site and set the stage for further research.

2008 Field School

 

The success of any archaeological research, especially field schools, relies on the support of many people. I would like to especially express my appreciation to the exceptionally hard working and congenial crew, to Heather Rockwell my ever patient field assistant (and external memory device), as well as to Nathaniel Kitchel, archaeo-lumberjack, George Leduc and Linda Fuerderer who volunteered exceptiona2008 Field Schooll effort not only during the field school but in the preparations and follow-up, and Laura Jefferson who served as our field photographer. I am also deeply indebted to Bob Potter and Pat Bacon, land owners who let us have free rein (and rampant chainsaws) over their properties so we could pursue research on their remarkable sites. And finally, we are especially grateful to Edith Tucker who made available the Jones Cottage (with its three showers with everlasting hot water PLUS wireless internet hookup) for use as our field headquarters.

Richard Boisvert
State Archaeologist
SCRAP Coordinator

 
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