An archaeological dig at a Colonial military site in the southern Adirondacks of New York has turned up thousands of artifacts, from butchered animal bones to uniform buttons, along with a lime kiln used to make mortar for a British fort that was never completed.
The six-week project that ended Friday at the Lake George Battlefield Park also uncovered a section of a stone foundation and brick floor of a small building likely constructed alongside a barracks in 1759, during the French and Indian War.
"That's the sort of clear-cut structure archaeologists love to see," said David Starbuck, leader of the State University of New York at Adirondack's annual archaeology field school.
Starbuck said the majority of the artifacts found were bones from butchered cattle and pigs, the main food sources for the American provincial soldiers and redcoats manning the wilderness outpost in the 18th century. But the team of some two dozen volunteers and college students conducting the first dig at the park since 2001 also turned up numerous uniform buttons, musket balls, gun flints and pottery shards.
Lake George was the scene of heavy military activity over a 25-year span beginning with the start of the French and Indian War in 1755 and running through the end of the American Revolution. Thousands of American and British soldiers and American Indian warriors passed through the forts built along the lake's southern end, and many of them left stuff behind, either lost or discarded in trash heaps at their encampments.
University of Vermont student Emilee Conroe of Ballston Spa, didn't expect to find much during her two-week stint digging for college credit. She wound up uncovering piles of animal bones and a set of cufflinks that likely belonged to an officer.
"I really came in to just learn about archaeology," said the 19-year-old sophomore. "I expected to find one or two items."
Starbuck said the lime kiln was found next to the ruins of Fort George, located in the park. The British abandoned the fort in mid-construction at the end of the French and Indian War.
Many of the artifacts were found in shallow pits excavated just yards from a road that runs through the state-owned park and connects to another busy road. Clearly visible from both, the excavations drew thousands of visitors from among the throngs that descend on this popular tourist destination every summer, Starbuck said.
Many left with a better understanding of the site's significance in American history, he said.
"One of our goals was to make it a public education project, and we definitely had that," Starbuck said.