HARTSHORN Archaeological Site
LOCATION: PLUMSTED TOWNSHIP, NJ
MARKET SECTOR: REAL ESTATE
Another cultural resource consultant previously identified two prehistoric areas and a 19th-century farmstead area on a parcel slated for residential development. They had recommended an additional investigation to determine whether these sites were significant. If the sites proved to be significant, larger-scale investigations and potentially lengthy regulatory review might be required. The developer chose PS&S to conduct the additional studies.
Evaluating the significance of an archaeological site requires answering several key questions. First among these is: Can the site provide valuable information about the past? The nature and quantity of buried artifacts are not always crucial considerations, especially when the integrity of the site is highly suspect. A site that has been substantially disturbed cannot supply important information because the evidence is jumbled together or incomplete and cannot be meaningfully interpreted.
THE PS&S SOLUTION
PS&S addressed this fundamental question. This was performed through meticulous data collection, geophysical survey, detailed mapping, and the analysis of the site’s geological layers (stratigraphy). The results made it clear that the two prehistoric loci had undergone extensive disturbance, as evidenced by the presence of plastic agricultural mesh in every level that contained prehistoric artifacts.
At the farmstead, the investigators found that although the farmhouse foundation remained, any artifacts deposited during the early occupation of the house were inextricably mixed with modern debris. PS&S also conducted extensive research into the history of the farmstead, proving that almost all of the seemingly very old features were actually constructed for a 20th-century dairy operation. The State Historic Preservation Office concurred with our finding of no significance and agreed that no additional review was necessary.