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Students participate in field school in historical archaeology

Aug. 1, 2022

This year, students attending CCS’ Summer Field School in Historical Archaeology spent time investigating a local site in White Creek known as the Van Corlaer Trading Post. Students participating in the program learned skills in archaeological field work, which included surveying, map making, excavation techniques, artifact identification and historic preservation. The Trading Post is believed to have been built by Arendt Van Corlaer, a Dutch fur trader between 1709 and 1711 for a local Native American Sachem known as Soquon, "The Owl King".

The study is being conducted by science teacher Steve Butz, who is assisted by science teacher Derek Syrgley. The class is looking to determine when the house was constructed through artifact analysis and dendrochronology, which is the study of tree rings to determine dates of occupation. If indeed the house was built in 1711, it may be the oldest house built in Washington County. At one time, there was an inscription carved into a beam above the fireplace which was attributed to Soquon, whose name is where the Owl Kill, a creek that runs directly behind the school through the Town of Cambridge, gets its name.

Students were successful in retrieving many artifacts which will be identified, preserved and displayed in the school’s science wing. They will also be shared with local historical societies. The project is supported by Marilyn Robinson and her son Duane, who own the property. Students will continue to work on the project while school is in session this fall.

Students and teachers at the dig site