Road Job Becomes Archaeological Dig in Southington, Conn.

Fri December 19, 2008 - Northeast Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

SOUTHINGTON, Conn. (AP) A road widening project has become an archaeological expedition in Southington, where dozens of artifacts from the late 1700s and early 1800s have been discovered.

The items were found along Mt. Vernon Road during a study required by the state before road construction can begin. Many artifacts were found near Wayne and Jayne Amico’s home, which was built around 1770 and is listed as the Rev. John Wightman House on the National Register of Historic Places.

The artifacts include pieces of pearlwear pottery that date from as early as 1780, an 18th century kaolin pipe stem fragment and blue-decorated pottery from around 1820.

Other areas along the road yielded blue-green window glass that may date to the 19th century and a machine-cut, machine-headed nail from the early 1800s.

The archaeology study is the first of its kind in town, according to Department of Public Works Director Anthony Tranquillo.

Tranquillo said the archaeological investigation was ordered by the State Historic Preservation Office. State law requires that historically significant archaeological sites be identified before construction disturbs an area.

Town Manager John Weichsel said Nov. 28 that town officials have not yet decided what to do with the artifacts. He said he planned to contact the local historical society.

Archaeological & Historical Services in Storrs, which describes itself on its Web site as a cultural resource management organization, conducted the survey in late October.

Ross Harper, the firm’s senior historic archaeologist, said pearlwear is a specific type of pottery made in England between 1780 and 1830.

“It was very popular in the U.S.,’’ he said. “It was relatively inexpensive and was used to make anything from platters to cups to pitchers.’’

The kaolin pipe stem is made from white clay that was used in the 17th, 18th and even into the 19th century. Harper said the pipes were made in England or Holland. He said pipe bowls got larger as the price of tobacco dropped, because people could afford to pack the pipe with more tobacco.

The study found five archaeological sites along the road that contained historic and modern material. One prehistoric artifact was found, a piece of thin quartz similar to an arrowhead.

Jayne Amico said she and her husband have found many artifacts on their property, and they are hoping to get the items found near their home during the archaeological study.

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