BLOG: Digging History at the Montclair Historical Society

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One year ago, as Montclair State University Archeology Professor Christopher Matthews and I walked the land that would become the Montclair Community Farm at the Montclair Historical Society, we looked down and saw a piece of 19th century porcelain and an old hand-blown bottle neck.  The field was ripe for exploration.

Six months later, Dr. Matthews and his class in MSU’s Center for Heritage and Archaeological Studies conducted a shovel test survey at 108 Orange. The goal was to see what they could discover below ground level about the history of Montclair and the old Crane farmstead that stood on this property.crane house dig

The students spent the first half of their semester researching the property at the Montclair Public Library, the Montclair Historical Society’s library, and the Newark Hall of Records. They then spent 3 days layout out a grid and excavating more than 23 shovel test pits. They found more that 2500 artifacts that tell the stories of the people who lived on this land for hundreds of years.

Jaclyn Lynyak, a student in the Archeology in Montclair class, said parlayed her experience working at the site into a summer fieldwork experience in Hawaii. “My experience at the Montclair Historical Society was enlightening, and is what helped me get that internship,” she says. Jaclyn has put together an exhibit of the artifacts they collected, which is on display at the Israel Crane House.

Dr. Matthews will share the results of the dig this Sunday at 3 pm at the Montclair Historical Society, 108 Orange Road, Montclair. All are welcome. A voluntary donation of $5 is suggested, which benefits the ongoing education and restoration efforts of the Montclair Historical Society.

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