From 2009-2010, archaeological study was completed for the new Keene Middle School in Keene, New Hampshire. This resulted in the discovery of the Paleoindian Tenant Swamp site, radiocarbon dated to 12,600 years before present. An expedited Phase II Determination of Eligibility study, completed as snow was falling in mid-December of 2009, recovered artifacts and fragments of burned animal bone in two distinct concentrations and established the site's eligibility for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
For construction to proceed, a mitigation plan called for additional shovel testing, block excavations to recover 100% of the archaeological data, and development of a public education component to present the results of the study to a wider audience. Archaeologists worked seven days a week, documenting evidence of four structures, each containing an array of stone tools used to work bone, wood, and animal hide. Small fragments of burned animal bone identified two species, caribou and otter, hunted by the site’s inhabitants. Tools were made of high-quality stone from sources in northern New Hampshire and northern Maine, reflecting social networks that extended for hundreds of miles across northeastern North America.
Following excavation, school construction was able to proceed without significant delay. Archaeologists worked with Keene Middle School teachers to incorporate site data into their science curriculum, highlighting the long span of human history in Keene for current and future students. The project was an example of a complex project conducted under extreme time pressure that fulfilled the requirements of state and federal law, permitted the client to complete development in a timely fashion, and provided a lasting benefit to the community.
Working for the Friends of the Abyssinian Meeting House, Monadnock Archaeological Consulting conducted archaeological fieldwork as part of efforts to restore the meeting house, a National Register of Historic Places listed property that is one of the oldest extant African-American churches in New England. The project received financial assistance from the City of Portland, the Maine Historic Preservation Commission, and other public and private sources. Excavations revealed evidence about the construction of the church, which served as an important stop on the Underground Railroad, and the life of the church community, and helped preserve this information while allowing restoration efforts to move forward.
The Abyssinian Meeting House is historically significant as the religious, educational, and cultural center for Portland’s nineteenth-century African American population and is recognized by the National Park Service part of the Underground Railroad Network to Freedom. Members of the Abyssinian congregation were associated with abolitionist activities in Portland, New England, and New York. Dating to 1828, it is the earliest religious property associated with a black congregation in Maine and hosted a school for African American children.
The goal of the Lebanon Mill Survey, completed in 2018, was to locate and identify the remains of historic water powered mills within the city limits, part of the requirements of a Certified Local Government grant to the City of Lebanon from the New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources (NHDHR). The study included background research and field survey of potential mill locations to identify visible and submerged resources relating to the industrial development of the city. These include architectural elements like foundations and dams as well as artifacts and culturally disturbed soils.
Twenty-four potential mill sites were surveyed, and sixteen previously unrecorded mill sites were identified. NHDHR Archaeological Inventory Forms were completed for each site. Data on their locations were incorporated into the City of Lebanon GIS mapping system, part of an effort to assemble a “story map” showing a history and photographs of sites for educational purposes and to help with their management and preservation. The results of the study were presented to the City of Lebanon in a comprehensive report and in public presentations. The survey demonstrated that mill remains in Lebanon are extensive, diverse, and significant, part of a complex industrial history that began in the 18th century and continues to the present. Specific recommendations were provided to assist in the preservation, protection, and future study of these sites.
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