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Avon archaeological dig among oldest sites in New England

Updated: Feb 3, 2022

• Avon Bridge Project Unearths History-Making Site

Area residents are invited to attend the first public presentation of a history-making archaeological dig — the recently uncovered Brian D. Jones Paleoindian Site — sponsored by the Avon Historical Society, in partnership with the Town of Avon and the Avon Free Public Library.

Senior Archaeologists David Leslie and Sarah Sportman of Archaeological and Historical Services in Storrs, Conn., will present the dig's background and their team’s preliminary findings, along with an understanding of those findings within the broader context of the Paleoindian period.

The presentation will feature visuals, including drone photographs of the site and photographs of the artifacts.

According to radiocarbon dating, this dig is the oldest human occupation site that has been found to date in southern New England. There is no comparative site in the region, according to Archaeological and Historical Services.

“This is an exciting story about the early human experience," says Avon Historical Society President Terri Wilson. "It’s not only a story about Avon, but a story of the early people of our entire Western Hemisphere. It is a story of the formation of our local geology after the Ice Age, and it is a story of the Farmington River."

The Connecticut Department of Transportation began a state project in December 2018 to construct a new Old Farms Road Bridge over the Farmington River and complete related intersection improvements to Waterville Road (Route 10).

Aerial view of the archaeological site in Avon. — courtesy photo

As a component of the project’s permit requirements, an archaeological survey was required in the location of the proposed bridge abutment located on the western bank of the river.

Conducted between January and April 2019, the survey uncovered a Paleoindian period site located 6 feet below ground surface level, including the remnants of suspected hearth features and over 15,000 associated artifacts, many of which were characteristic of the Early and Middle Paleoindian periods of roughly 12,500 years ago, or 10,000 B.C.

Artifacts from the Avon archaeological site. — courtesy photo

"The CTDOT has been instrumental in summarizing and sharing the significance of this site,” Wilson says.

It will take several years before the findings of Archaeological and Historical Services are ready for detailed publication in scientific narratives and journal articles. The Storrs firm continues to process and study the artifacts.

However, it is anticipated that these findings — in conjunction with data from other Paleoindian sites in New England — will provide scholars with important new information about the earliest inhabitants of this region of North America.

“It is hard to believe that something so historically significant was found in our own backyard," says Avon Town Council Chairperson Heather Maguire. "The Town Council is incredibly pleased that Avon is able to actively participate in this project and collaborate with other stakeholders to bring this discovery into the public eye. I, for one, am excited to learn more about our local history!”

Archaeologists uncovered a variety of artifacts plus evidence of structures. — courtesy photo

Both the Avon Historical Society and the Town of Avon have followed the progress of this project with great interest since the excavation was completed almost one year ago, and have been eager to work closely with other organizations in order to share this discovery with the public.

To that end, in July 2019 the town, the Federal Highway Administration, the Connecticut State Historic Preservation Office, the CTDOT, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, the Mohegan Tribe and the Office of the Connecticut State Archaeologist entered into a memorandum of agreement regarding the housing and display of the artifacts, as well as the creation of educational exhibits for a variety of audiences.

The Avon Historical Society is pleased to partner with the town, Archaeological and Historical Services, and the Avon Free Public Library in order to develop these resources.

EVENT — First Public Presentation of Paleoindian Site

WHEN — Saturday, February 15 • 5:00 p.m. • Doors open: 4:15 p.m.

(snow date: Saturday, February 29)

WHERE — Avon Senior Center • 635 West Avon Road


Terri Wilson • (860) 678-7621 •

Source — Avon Historical Society

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