While workers were preparing to reconstruct a bridge over Farmington River near Old Farms Road in Connecticut, an ancient archaeological site was discovered. The hidden site that was unearthed in Avon is said to be 12,500 years old and was inhabited by the earliest residents of southern New England who lived there during the Paleoindian Period (between 16000 and 8000 B.C.).
The Paleoindian Period was around the end of the Ice Age when the climate warmed up and the world’s largest mammals started dying out. The first humans migrated from Asia and arrived in North America during the end of the Ice Age (or Pleistocene Epoch).
Catherine Labadia, who is a staff archaeologist with the State Historic Preservation Office, said, “This is the once-in-lifetime opportunity to look [at a site of this age] in Connecticut,” adding, “This site has the potential to make us understand the first peopling of Connecticut in a way we haven’t been able to.” Younger sites have been previously found, but by digging a bit deeper, they were able to uncover these more significant finds.
The state’s Department of Transportation hired a firm called Archaeological & Historical Services, Inc. to perform the actual dig of the site. According to the dig’s principal investigator, Senior Archaeologist David Leslie, approximately 15,000 artifacts and 27 features were uncovered during the excavation, with the majority of the items being tools made from stone. An open fire pit or a hearth was also discovered as well as several posts from temporary houses. (Pictures can be seen here.)
Prior to this excavation, there had only been a handful of Paleoindian features that have been found in that part of the country and the archaeological site in Avon had over two dozen. “Right now, this is the oldest. And people have been looking for Paleoindian sites for quite some time,” Leslie stated.
The site has been named in honor of state archaeologist Brian Jones who passed away this past July. “Many other archaeologists, I think, have missed sites that are deeply buried because we’re used to only investigating the top few feet,” Leslie said, adding that “Brian had a feeling that there could be the potential for archaeology here.” And he was right, as the ancient Paleoindian site was found buried approximately six feet underground.