A promising year in Connecticut state archeology

The Connecticut State Museum of Natural History gave an interesting presentation titled "Uncovering Connecticut's Past". Dr. Brian Jones spoke about recent archeological finds. (Mitchell Lisowski/The Daily Campus)

The Connecticut State Museum of Natural History gave an interesting presentation titled "Uncovering Connecticut's Past". Dr. Brian Jones spoke about recent archeological finds. (Mitchell Lisowski/The Daily Campus)

Archaeological finds in 2017 exposed important nuances within some of Connecticut’s earliest communities according to a talk presented by Dr. Brian Jones, Connecticut’s state archaeologist and assistant professor at UConn, on Saturday.

According to Jones, the Office of State Archaeology’s work in 2017 revolved primarily around three sites including the John Little Homestead in Columbia, The Oliver Ellsworth Homestead in Windsor and the Hollister site in Glastonbury.

The three sites all involved homes and structures that traced their ownership back to the 15th and 16th Centuries, such as the Little Homestead in Columbia that is estimated to have been built in 1740 for a Mayflower descendant’s son, according to Jones.

Jones highlighted a mentality of conservation and preservation in regards to the historical sites within the state.

“If there are properties that are at risk, that’s when I want to get my foot in the door,” Jones said. “I want to help communities resolve issues and help threatened sites.”

The people of Connecticut’s past, in contrast to the rest of New England provides for the most interest amongst researchers, according to Jones.

“Connecticut Yankees are really their own creatures,” Jones said. “In a way they were setting the stage for a lot of these concepts that built the early nation. I think we see that as early as the 1600’s with these settlers. They were a very independent people.”

This year Dr. Jones’ work furthered previous research from UConn alumni Robert Grady while investigating the Oliver Ellsworth Homestead in Windsor. Grady investigated another piece of the Ellsworth property in 1991.

Artifacts of early settler living such as spoons and ceramic wares were of peak interest to certain audience members.

“I learned a lot about the different artefactual remains of the houses,” Kenechi Nkwo said, a UConn environmental engineering major in attendance. “It seemed like a very interesting session and I would go to see it again.”

Sarah Dezelin, a sixth-semester natural resources major in attendance, remarked on the labor that goes into conducting an archaeological dig.

“It’s very interesting to see just how much work, manpower, time and effort goes into discovering things that people [even if they live in that town] probably don’t know about,” Dezelin said.

When looking to the future, Jones said that he is most looking forward to continuing to involve local communities in the process of discovering their history.

“We really want to increase the diversity of our outreach, and so we’re working on a program with Hartford’s Promise Zone, where we’re getting kids from Hartford’s north end,” Jones said. “We’re trying to get them to raise our understanding of the history of the region and do some hands-on archaeology. One of my long-term goals starting this job is to reach a much more diverse audience with these public programming options.”


Collin Sitz is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at collin.sitz@uconn.edu.