History uncovered: Archeologists comb for artifacts following move of historic home

The exposed ground once beneath the historic Ebenezer Hills House, which the Albany County Airport Authority recently moved 200 feet from the runway, has proven to be an informative source of history.

Since the house was moved on Tuesday, Aug. 5, archaeologists from Hartgen Archaeological Associates, Inc., have been hard at work, digging up plant species, bones and other artifacts previous owners and dwellers of the home had left behind in the 220 years it had rested on that site.

According to Corey McQuinn, project director for Hartgen, the archaeologists have been hard at work, not looking for anything in particular, but as part of a yearlong study that was required to be done on the house once it moved, as it is on the National Register of Historic Places.

The study is called a Phase 3 Archaeological Data Retrieval, McQuinn said, and focuses primarily on the area surrounding the house, and the soil underneath where the house had sat.

The fieldwork is all done and gone, but throughout the year we have to do a little bit of research on what we found, he said.

McQuinn said the archaeologists first separate the botanical elements, such as plant life, from other artifacts. Then, each artifact is analyzed so that archaeologists can gain a sense of what people were doing at the site, and what their lifestyles were like.

For example, he said, archaeologists at Hartgen knew that the Ebenezer Hills House was formerly a tavern. A complete study into the artifacts will hopefully provide a glimpse into what type of people frequented the tavern, what accommodations the tavern keeper made and what type of image the tavern keeper wanted his tavern to portray, McQuinn said.

McQuinn said another element of interest to archaeologists is the home's unique location, close to an area that was formerly in proximity to many turnpikes that traders and farmers passed through.

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