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Research Report

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In 2018-2019, the Fiske Center for Archaeological Research at UMass Boston excavated 38 shovel test pits and three excavation units at The Old Manse in Concord, Massachusetts, in advance of planned landscaping work, parking lot expansion, and the installation of a buried propane tank. The Old Manse (CON.347; CON.9037; CON.HA.20; 19-MD-89) is a late 18thcentury house at 269 Monument Street in Concord, Massachusetts, located on a 7-acre property abutting the Concord River and Minute Man National Historical Park. The property is owned by The Trustees of Reservations. The standing historic house dates to 1770 and is significant because of its association with a number of important literary and artistic figures, particularly Nathanial and Sophia Hawthorne and Ralph Waldo Emerson. The excavations found scattered, low density trash deposits from the earliest period of the standing house in several areas and evidence of landscape alteration in the form of a ca. 1770 ground surface buried by cellar ejecta northwest of the standing house (STPs 250-251). There were plow scars visible below this buried surface. However, the most significant result of the excavations was the discovery of three areas with intact Native deposits. In total, the excavations produced 831 lithics (including flakes, shatter, one hammer stone, and seven flaked tools) and 29 pieces of Native ceramic. Two charcoal-rich pit features and a buried ground surface were radiocarbon dated. Area 1 was located along the entrance drive. EU84, initially a 1 x 1 m unit, was expanded to a 1.5 x 1.5 m unit to completely excavate the impact areas for a tree planting. The deposit was from an episode of tool finishing or resharpening, containing two point tips and 513 flakes and pieces of shatter concentrated at the A/B interface. The lithics were predominantly small (<1 cm in length) and dominated by four material types: black and gray rhyolite (57%), green rhyolite (22%), quartzite (10%), and andesite (9%). This deposit is limited in extent and did not continue into surrounding STPs. Area 2, located in the west yard, consisted of a buried ground surface and a charcoal rich pit in EU131. Calcined bone and lithic flakes, including non-local Pennsylvania jasper, were found in multiple levels, and 9 fragments of Native ceramic were found in the modern topsoil and in the buried ground surface. Charcoal samples from the buried ground surface and the pit were dated to the Late Woodland/Contact period (1455-1624 AD) and the Late Archaic (2556-2349 BC or 3955 +/-20 BP) period respectively (AMS calibrated radiocarbon dates). The presence of calcined bone in large quantities (almost 900 pieces in very small fragments) suggests that there was a hearth nearby where animal bones were disposed of by burning. The extent of this area of preserved strata is not known, since we did not excavate additional STPs beyond the tree planting site. In response to this discovery, The Trustees altered the tree planting plans in order to avoid this area. Area 3 was a possible residential area identified in multiple test areas (STPs 120-123 and 58) over about 8 meters in the area of a seasonal event tent. These deposits contained tools, flakes, and Native ceramics (17 pieces) in a buried ground surface/stratified artifact deposits and a large, charcoal rich pit feature. The charcoal came from willow and oak trees. Charcoal from the pit feature dates to the Late Archaic (calibrated date of 2836-2496 BC), and the tool assemblage includes a modified black rhyolite Levanna point (Late Woodland) as well as a gray rhyolite Small Stemmed point, a quartz point tip, and a hammer stone. Lithic types included black, gray, and green rhyolites, quartzite, and a fine grained red rhyolite (Saugus jasper). Because this deposit covers a broad area, The Trustees identified an alternate planting location for tree planting where no significant cultural material or intact strata were identified. This report also includes a copy of the catalog of the Native artifacts collected from the fields around the Old Manse in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, now in the collections of the Concord Museum, cataloged by Dr. Shirley Blancke, Associate Curator of Archaeology and Native American Studies and reproduced courtesy of the Concord Museum.


To protect location information, pages with maps and unit coordinates have been redacted.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.