Beneath the frozen earth and seven feet down, artifacts, from more than 12,000 years ago, were discovered in Avon last January.
The archeological findings were discovered while the state Department of Transportation crews excavated a site for a bridge replacement at the intersection of Route 10 and Old Farms Road.
“We knew, going into the work, during the design phases, that there was the potential to run into something archaeologically,” said Kevin Nursick, DOT spokesperson.
Archeologists and historians around the state are celebrating what is considered a major discovery.
“The significance is, this is the oldest known Paleoindian archeology site in southern New England,” said Terri Wilson, president of the Avon Historical Society.
Wilson and others credited the late Brian Jones for the discovery. The former state archeologist, who died this past July, advised the DOT and forecasted potential findings.
“He had noted several years ago, during some core sample digs on a site that was 5,000 years old, nearby that the alluvious soils in the core samples might have some significance,” said Wilson.
In accordance with state and federal law, the DOT worked directly with archeologists during the early phases of construction, to ensure any findings were preserved.
“We have a responsibility to science and to the understanding of who and what was here before us on this little piece of earth,” explained Nursick.
Senior Archeologist David Leslie has worked with the DOT and coordinated the dig. He said they’ve uncovered about 15,000 artifacts. Included among them, 27 “Cultural Features” Leslie said are extremely rare.
Avon’s Historical Society added perspective.
“This is a human contact site. Not a human remains site. So there’s no remains of humans. This is where they lived and worked,” said Wilson.
As for the construction, the DOT originally projected cost of the project around $14 million, with 80% federal and 20% state funding. An estimated $500,000 was added to ensure a thorough processing of the archeological site.
“The entire footprint that we’ve touched there has been categorized and scientifically analyzed so that there’s nothing left for them to look at in our footprint,” added Nursick.
The DOT said because they knew this was a possibility, they staged their work accordingly and expect the project to be completed by the Fall of 2020.