(NECN: Jack Thurston, Swanton, Vt.) - Past rows of corn in a Swanton, Vt. field, researchers are unearthing ancient history. "There's a lot going on here," said researcher Chandler Halbur. "It's not just a cornfield."
Halbur is on a team of archaeologists digging in two sites, which they said trace 7,000 years of occupation, dating to early Native American settlements here. "Knowing we're going to find some pretty significant things is nice to know," Halbur said.
The dig is taking place on a busy stretch of Route 78. The Vt. Agency of Transportation is looking at upgrading the road, along with the Federal Highway Administration, according to project managers. The National Historic Preservation Act requires them to investigate archaeologically significant sites before construction, project director Gemma Hudgell said. "To make sure that this cultural resource is protected," she added, noting that VTrans is funding the dig.
Hudgell showed New England Cable News a small scraping tool located this week, as well as casts of other finds from the area, including fragments of pottery and weapons. However, the dig is about more than just artifacts, Hudgell said. She explained it aims to discover more about the northern part of the Champlain Valley in regards to environmental changes and how people used the land.
"You can trace how where the trees are has changed. And where the swampy areas have changed," Hudgell explained. "You can see what individual people, individual families are doing with their fire hearths, with manufacturing stone tools, knocking little chips off. You can see all this."
The public can see it, too. Students and other visitors are invited to check out the dig and even to volunteer sifting through the earth. The project runs through October. For more information on visits or volunteer opportunities, call 207-860-4032 or visit this website.