SHOWN ABOVE: Hearth at the Structure 13 site.
IAC provides cultural resource management services for Eversource Energy as the company works to maintain and upgrade its vast transmission system. IAC has conducted archaeological surveys along nearly 20 transmission corridors across New Hampshire, an ongoing effort that spans multiple years and includes all investigative phases. The initial Phase IA sensitivity assessment included delineating areas of Pre-Contact Native American and Post-Contact Euroamerican archaeological sensitivity within the various right-of-ways (ROWs), followed by Phase IB investigations where Eversource proposed ground-disturbing impacts. Phase IB testing resulted in the identification of 19 newly documented archaeological sites that include 12 Pre-Contact cultural resources and seven Post-Contact sites. The previously unrecorded Post-Contact resources consist of Euroamerican homesteads, quarries and mills, while the Pre-Contact sites range from short-term lithic workshops to long-term campsites with chronologically distinct occupation phases. Subsequent Phase II and targeted data recoveries (Phase III) produced sufficient data for IAC to recommend eight of the Pre-Contact sites as eligible for the National Register of Historic Places under Criterion D.
Two of the eligible Pre-Contact sites included particularly interesting cultural deposits, the Structure 13 site in Nashua and the Reeds Brook site in Hudson (both towns in Hillsborough County), New Hampshire. The Structure 13 site is a Pre-Contact camp situated along the Merrimack River in an area of dense Post-Contact development. Archaeological testing exposed several cultural features, including an intact stone-lined hearth dated to 3,240 +/- 30 years B.P. during the Late Archaic period, along with associated artifact deposits that indicate Pre-Contact groups established a short-term camp where occupants processed, cooked and consumed faunal species collected from the immediate area. Although Late Archaic campsites are not uncommon in New Hampshire, the Structure 13 site highlights the potential for well preserved Pre-Contact cultural deposits even within areas of prolonged and widespread modern development.
The Reeds Brook site similarly occupies a high terrace along the Merrimack River, however, unlike the Structure 13 site, Post-Contact development is minimal and the majority of the site appears undisturbed. IAC documented a wide range of features that include post hole alignments, hearths and storage pits, and collected an assemblage of both lithic and ceramic artifacts. Testholes exposed three temporally distinct occupation horizons with thermal features radiocarbon dated to the Early Woodland (3,000-2,000 B.P.) and Middle Woodland (2,000-1,000 B.P.) periods. The site assemblage includes Vinette I ceramics, the earliest ceramic type produced in New Hampshire, along with lithic tools to suggest on-site processing of floral and/or faunal consumables. The Reeds Brook site encompasses a multi-component cultural deposit indicative of a camp and processing site visited again and again by Pre-Contact peoples across over 1,000 years of intermittent use.