Archaeology Day at the Peters House

In June and July of 2019 Heritage Consultants excavated on the property of the Peters House at 150 East Street in Hebron, Connecticut. The Town of Hebron/Hebron Parks and Recreation requested that Heritage Consultants complete archaeological testing preceding restoration and renovation of the house for use as municipal facilities and potential museum exhibit space.

After completing the testing process Heritage staff, Hebron Historic Properties Commission, and the Town of Hebron agreed that the Peters House story needed to be shared with the community in Hebron. The Heritage team decided to tell the story in a way that would transcend the typical history lecture. What transpired over the course of August 2019, was the development of a public event called “Archaeology Day at the Peters House” that would include learning about the processes of cultural resource management and archaeological excavations. Heritage staff showcased the Peters House property, from exterior architecture to 100 centimeters below surface where artifacts like creamware, clay pipe stems, and clam shells had been uncovered during archaeological survey. The mission of the Archaeology Day event was to provide the community a space and environment to engage with history in a way they never had before.

The day began at 11:00 am with opening remarks from Heritage CFO David George, Dorothy Brehant Taggart of the Hebron Historic Properties Commission, and Todd Levine of the Connecticut Freedom Trail with the Connecticut State Historic Preservation Office. During the opening remarks Mr. Levine also presented the descendants of Cesar and Lois Peters (former slaves during the 18th century) the Connecticut Freedom Trail commemorative plaque in honor of their legacy. To learn more about Cesar, Lois, and their family’s role as a slaves and freeperson in Hebron click here.

Heritage staff coordinated children’s activities for the day including a mock dig, in which children aged 5-9 “excavated” their own “test pit” for artifacts that they collected and brought home. Hourly treasure hunts for children ages 8+ taught children to use a compass to navigate for treasure through the Hebron Community Garden, round to the old cellar entrance, and back to the rear ell of the house. Inside, children were able to view and hold real artifacts uncovered during Heritage’s archaeological testing. After viewing artifacts under a magnifying glass with Heritage’s lab specialist, children were able to learn through a matching game about local projectile points.

Each children’s activity was paired with a prize bag and the ability to “dig into” a real test unit with Heritage staff archaeologists who arrived early on Archaeology Day to complete a final test for artifacts on the grounds surrounding Peters House. Six of Heritage’s on staff archaeologists worked the entire day digging, sifting, and collecting artifacts in real time during the event. Recovered that day were items such as shell-edged pearlware, sponge-decorated whiteware, and other kitchen refuse.

Every now and then a resounding BOOM could be heard coming from the rear of the large yard adjacent to the house where the event was being held. Aiming blanks into the distance, historical interpreters from the Old Sturbridge Village Colonial Militia performed various reenactments for children and guests throughout the day.

To view press coverage of the event visit The Chronicle and Journal Inquirer.