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Flint House Archaeological Report, 2002 — 2003:
Tales from the Glenville Woods

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[This information is from pp. 33-34 of Flint House Archaeological Report, 2002 — 2003: Tales from the Glenville Woods by Stephen D. Jones, Ph.D., RPA, and others, and is reproduced here with his permission.]

VIII. Recommendations

Archaeology at the Flint House has been gratifyingly productive. Virtually every place we dig produces new information. The porch area is packed with features and artifacts. The barn structures may be pulled down, and mostly plowed away — or destroyed by modern housing — yet the barnyard has retained indications of buildings everywhere we've looked. Even the "negative archaeology" of Farrow's shovel-testpits told us something we needed to know: that the property south of the house was probably devoted to crops or other activities that did not involve structures. Moreover, the single shovel-test dug during a recent workshop for "STEP" (the Science and Technology Entry Program at Union College) gave us more food for thought: Placed 20' in front of the house, the pit showed a thick spread of household debris beside the road, indicating … I'm not sure what, but this is a new development to pursue.

Future projects could aim at clarifying information attained so far, or propose different research questions.

In terms of clarification, my hypotheses about the succession of porches should be tested by excavating along the supposed path of these structures, in order to confirm borders and to search for more revelatory contexts. Any space along the gravel "path" ought to be extended to the east to find out if it is indeed a path, or a road, or the surrounds of some other feature. The sidewalk leading from the road to the porch area might be removed to look for successions of walkway features. One or more additional squares might be excavated further south in the number 2 row, 3-6' from the house, to see if the so-called foundation trench expands away from the house in other places. A square at one of the corners of the front of the building could be explored to find out what was going on alongside the Victorian porch, or to see if earlier times left remains there. More shovel-tests (or a unit) should be dug closer to the road, to find out why the STEP shovel-test found a layer of garbage — or to look for evidence of roadside features such as carriage stoops. The barnyard is wide-open for further testing, either adjacent to Peschel's units or at other points suggested by the 1902 plan. The area of Farrow's STPs G7, H1, and H2 demands further testing. And the cemetery is still hiding out there; ground-penetrating radar or other remote sensing might be best for the next stage of this exploration, if money or equipment becomes available. The question here is not only where the cemetery is but what its position means about the layout of the property. Remote-sensing equipment would also be handy in the barnyard; the porch structures are probably too complex. Future archaeologists should certainly explore the area along the foundations of the house, but this must await funds for restoring those foundations. Then there's the need for more archive research, which might finally produce a document or two that actually describes this property — and what was on it.

New research questions might focus on the changes to the house over time, and how these related to social or attitudinal changes. Specific types of domestic outbuildings, or grounds layouts, might be proposed and tested. Outhouses had to be in the area and would be of great interest if discovered; for instance, the discovery of an outhouse backfilled with 18th-century artifacts would go a long way toward supporting an 18th-century starting date for the house. Chemical analyses of the soils in various parts of the grounds might well answer questions regarding agricultural or industrial uses of the land, as would microanalyses of pollen and insect remains. Broader land-use research should focus on surrounding buildings (at least as shown in maps), soil deposition and erosion patterns, spatial relationships between known buildings and geographic features … these are just a few suggestions.

Both clarification and new research would be aided by further examination of our existing artifact collection. Although experts have examined many of the ceramics, the artifact list is largely my creation, and I'm no expert. Among other things, more work needs to be done on categorizing glass and iron, and on figuring what sherds fit together — I have concentrated only on the patterned ones.

Almost any careful archaeological project on the Flint property or artifacts is likely to add to our knowledge. By "careful" I mean "clearly located and excavated without backhoe in a time-frame that is adequate for the task at hand." It may surprise the layperson to know that "careful archaeological projects" are very few and far between. Yet it is truly crucial, for everyone who believes in learning from the past, to propose, assist, or vocally support careful research at priceless properties like this, which are our principal stores of information. The archives can tell us surprisingly little. This is where our history still lives. How soon will someone destroy it?

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http://www.schenectadyhistory.org/buildings/scotia/flint_house/jones/recommendations.html updated July 30, 2009

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