Digging into the past

Ever wonder just who might have inhabited areas in Colonie in years gone by? Binghamton University Project Director for the Public Archaeological Facility Laurie Miroff will tell you at the William K. Sanford Library on Sunday, March 13.

Artifacts from the early 19th century were discovered by the organization on Troy-Schenectady Road when the facility was hired to check out the parcel after it was purchased by the state as the new site for the Troop G headquarters for the state police. Whenever a state or federal entity looks for funding for a site, it needs to make sure the historical and cultural resources are preserved. What Miroff found were pieces of Colonial and Native American history.

The Native Americans probably had a lot of stone tools and a lot of waste from making stone tools, which we call flakes, she said of what was found.

The process of searching for artifacts is done in different stages, beginning with digging holes every 50 feet on the 40-acre parcel. At the Troy-Schenectady Road parcel, Miroff said, there were two Native American sites concentrated in one area. The next phase was to dig 3-by-3 feet right next to the original holes, expanding the shovel test pits.

"There were lots of pieces of broken dishes, smoking pipes, glass bottles, window glass and nails," she said.

After the facility made the recommendation to preserve the site, the state said it needed to build on top of the densest part of the historical site, which would essentially destroy it so, Miroff said, archaeologists needed to preserve as many of the artifacts as possible.

She said, it's not only the artifacts themselves that are important, but also the stories behind them.

"We carefully excavated and recorded where they came from," she said. "If we do this right, we could put the site back together."

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