Continuing The Search For Fort Dayton – Archaeology in Central New York [VIDEO, PHOTOS]
Archaeology is all about using evidence to answer questions that history has left us pondering. Sometimes it's as simple as 'where was Fort Dayton?' other times it can be as complex as 'what didn't the Doctor throw down the well?' A question that doesn't appear to have any limits.
In 2002 Herkimer County Historical Society hosted an archaeological excavation in search of evidence of Fort Dayton and successfully uncovered artifacts from Colonial and Revolutionary War periods. After 12 years the Fort Dayton archaeological excavation was re-opened on May 31st, 2014 and after eight weeks of excavation the team recovered countless artifacts that helped fill in the history of Herkimer's Dr. Suiter but unfortunately failed to identify the location of the fort. A year later on May 30th the Herkimer excavation teams resumed the search at a new location.
On the first day of the excavation after doing an initial site survey to establish a datum point and transit lines a volunteer surveyed the site using a metal detector to provide additional site information.
The first shovel test pit established was the small well on the property that had been back-filled with compost in years prior, identified as STP #W. Volunteer Brian Doyle, son of Fred Doyle behind the first excavation, removed most of the back-fill by the end of the first day of digging.
The second test pit established was STP #1 aproximately 7.5 meters from the datum point and in line with the well. This test pit proved to be more fertile as various sherds of ceramics, shards of glass and miscellaneous cut animal bones. The majority of artifacts were uncovered within the first two levels of test pit.
The final excavation pit, STP #2, was another 7.5 meters from the datum point and unfortunately was densely packed with roots and slowed the excavation team dramatically. The test pit also proved fruitful with the first pipe stem recovered of the day.
At the conclusion of the first week of the excavation the search for Fort Dayton at site number two has yielded more mid to late 19th century artifacts and a curious amount of cut and burned animal bones. The most significant artifacts recovered were obtained from test pit #1 and included a pipe stem, a large pipe bowl fragment several decorative buckles and ceramics.
If you're interested in archaeology you can contact the Herkimer County Historical Society about volunteering to help out at the excavation.