DURHAM — Archaeologists working to uncover artifacts left behind by Native Americans and early European settlers say they could use the public’s help this summer.
Field schools coordinated by the NH Division of Historical Resources’ State Conservation and Rescue Archaeology Program will take place in Durham, Livermore and Washington.
Meghan Howey, who is the chair of the anthropology department and a Hayes Professor of the Humanities at University of New Hampshire, says they are chasing down some of the earliest colonial settlements of the 1600s in Durham.
“I say it’s the Jamestown of the Oyster River,” Howey said.
Howey is exploring a house that was originally built in the 1630s and survived the Oyster River Massacre of 1694, which killed 104 people. Half of the dwellings were pillaged and burned to the ground, according to Wikipedia.
Howey is also investigating the site of a meetinghouse belonging to First Parish Church on Dover Point Road which was built in 1654 and demolished in the 18th century. She said they spent a week there last summer and were blown away by what they found.
“We don’t think we live in a frontier, but in the 1600s this was a real frontier zone,” Howey said.
Howey said in addition to finding personal possessions either brought from Europe or traded for, they are learning a great deal about the lives of colonial people who came to New Hampshire’s Seacoast to make money in the lumber, fur and fishing trades.
“They’re eating cod at these sites and they’re catching these cod right at the mouth of the Oyster River,” Howey said. “You get an insight into what a healthy Oyster River ecosystem looked like.”
State Archaeologist Mark Doperalski oversees the State Conservation and Rescue Archaeology Program and is involved in the research taking place at Livermore Falls State Forest and Pillsbury State Park in Washington.
“People automatically assume when you say you are working in archaeology that you are somewhere far abroad, but there is archaeology here in New Hampshire,” Doperalski said.
Doperalski said that at Livermore Falls State Forest, they are investigating Livermore Hollow, a historic industrial complex.
At Pillsbury State Park in Washington, they have identified a trail likely used by Native American people.
“We don’t know if there is anything there yet,” Doperalski said.
The Durham field school is coordinated in conjunction with the Great Bay Archaeological Survey and will be held at the Burnham family estate from June 3 to 28. From July 1 to 12, sessions will be held at the meetinghouse historic site.
The Livermore Hollow session will run from July 8 to 19 and the Pillsbury State Park session is scheduled for July 22 to Aug. 2.
For more information and to register, visit www.nh.gov/nhdhr/SCRAP.htm.