The stockade was part of a fortress for protection from Native-American attacks against European settlers. The second project is an Earthfast house, also circa-1680, which predates any of the preserved stone houses along Huguenot Street -- the oldest incorporated street in America.
At the same time, Diamond and his field study have their first opportunity since they began their archeological work on Huguenot Street to dig underneath one of the historic houses -- the Abraham Hasbrouck House, circa 1721.
Diamond explains that previous digs have shown evidence of an Earthfast house, made from posts stuck into the ground, with an English-style construction that included discoveries of a bread-oven door, a fireplace and a hearth. While the construction was much simpler than later stone homes, Diamond noted that it was built “to last at least 20 years if not more.”
That Earthfast home is surrounded on the Deyo lawn by a stockade.
Richard Heyl de Ortiz, of Historic Huguenot, explained that when the twelve European New Paltzians were given the governor’s permission to settle New Paltz, that one “requirement he gave was that the Duzine have a place where they could protect themselves if they came under attack. Thus, the stockade that Diamond and his crew have begun to uncover.”
“We found a portion of the west wall of the stockade and then a small portion of the west wall,” said Diamond, as he walked through the five-meter square digging plots that he and his students were working on to collect archeological findings, as well as establish the rest of the footprint of the stockade and the Earthfast house.
One dig site had already tagged and bagged several important artifacts of lives lived prior to modern times.
“These are 17th- and 18th-century pottery fragments,” he said, holding glazed pieces of what were once cups, saucers and bowls. He then pointed to a projectile head, carved out of stone that dated back to “500 BC,” as these projectile heads have been carbon-dated.
“There are lots of cool doodads that we find in each dig, but the projectile heads, based on their carvings and carbon dating, can be traced back to 500 BC to 1200 BC,” he said.
While Diamond and his field study crew continue to unearth the stockade, Earthfast house and from other archeological remnants that tie the area to 500 BC all the way to modern times, he is also leading a dig underneath the Abraham Hasbrouck House, where ongoing renovations are being done to remove the addition of a 1930-1940 stone floor in the cellar kitchen.
That stone floor is “where lots of human activity occurred,” said Heyl de Ortiz.
The crew will then replace it with the historically accurate wooden floor that existed prior to the house being owned and managed by the Elver’s family.
“The removal offers and an excellent opportunity to dig under what would have been one of the busiest and most active parts of the house,” said Heyl de Ortiz, who accompanied Diamond and field study students into the cellar kitchen, where a portion of the stone floor had been torn up and Diamond and his students had begun their rich dig.
Using a window-screen sized filter, Diamond pointed out many of the first artifacts found underneath the cellar kitchen, including many fish bones, beef bones and needles.
“At this juncture we speculate that many of the artifacts we’ve found are ones that slipped through the original wood floorboards -- items small enough like fish bones, beads, needles, etc. But we have no idea what we will uncover, until the dig is completed,” Diamond said.
In his 13 years on Huguenot Street, the professor said that two of the most exciting discoveries have been the stockade and the Earthfast house.
Heyl de Ortiz said that Elvers, in his late years, claimed that he and his family and found a “human skeleton” beneath the then-wood floor foundation as they went to replace it with a stone floor.
“That’s what is so exciting and magical about history and these archeological digs,” said Heyl de Ortiz. “You never know what they will find. It could be glazed pottery shreds and food remnants, pipe stems and ancient projectile points, or it could be something we never imagined.”
For additional information, call Richard Heyl de Ortiz at 255-1660, ext. 104.
Archaeology Camp for Kids
Historic Huguenot Street’s Archaeology Camp for Kids kicked into full swing last week at the Bevier-Elting House, side-by-side with the SUNY New Paltz Archeological Field School. Resident archaeologist Kevin Van Kleeck led campers ages eight and up in an authentic dig. Campers were immersed in the real day-to-day life of an archaeologist as they uncovered artifacts of their own. Games, snacks and water play complemented their diligent excavations, assuring limitless fun.
Archaeology Camp for Kids continues a second week starting Monday, July 25. Camp is 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Registration is $220 ($200 for friends of Huguenot Street). Visit www.huguenotstreet.org to register, call 255-1660, ext. 105 or email@example.com to learn more.