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Results from Archeological Investigation at Institute for Advanced Study Released

Five Musket Balls and Five Pieces of Grapeshot Found at Site

Activity for Construction of Housing Project `About to Begin’

A consultant has prepared an interim report on the archeological investigation of Maxwell’s Field on the campus of the Institute for Advanced Study, the seven-acre site where the Institute is planning to build 15 houses for faculty adjacent to the Princeton Battlefield State Park.

Consultants from the Ottery Group describe Maxwell’s Field is a significant archeological site and historic landscape associated with the Battle of Princeton, which took place in January of 1777 and represents a pivotal point in the Revolutionary War.

Because of the site’s history, the housing project has faced several legal battles over the years. The Princeton Planning Board approved the project last year after.

The Ottery Group report presents the results of the field investigations and provides a discussion of ongoing aspects of the investigation.

“The interim report is intended to encourage continued research and dialogue among the professional archeological community and members of the public that have an interest in the archeology associated with this historic landscape,” the report reads.

Of the 663 artifacts collected by the Ottery Group, ten relate to the Battle of Princeton — five musket balls and five pieces of grapeshot.

The report explains the analysis of the artifacts that will take place in the project’s next phase, which includes curating the materials previously collected from the site before their transfer to the State of New Jersey.

“When the Institute for Advanced Study received the approval of the Princeton Planning Board for its Faculty Housing project, it offered to carry out a third archaeological survey at the site in advance of construction. The fieldwork for that pre-construction survey, conducted by the archeological firm the Ottery Group in stages over the past year, has now been completed, as documented in an interim report prepared by Ottery,” a spokesperson for the Institute said in a written statement about the report.

“Designed to be as comprehensive as reasonably possible, the survey methodology incorporated a variety of technologies, included geophysical survey, 122 shovel test pits, three test excavations and two complete metal detection surveys. Suggestions by the Princeton Battlefield Society and others were taken into account in the final research design,” reads the statement.

The statement said the faculty housing project activity is “about to begin” and that “the Institute’s archaeological protocol provides that an archaeologist will be on site to monitor construction activity that might encounter additional artifacts.”

“It also looks forward to receiving the final archeological report, and to working with others on the overall enhancement of the Princeton Battlefield State Park,” reads the statement.

Previously, Hunter Research was successful at identifying 41 Revolutionary War artifacts  from
surface soils within the faculty housing area. Their finds included 15 lead balls in various sizes and conditions of deformity, 14 grapeshot, lead flint wraps, a short bayonet fragment, a brass ramrod holder, a portion  of a cartridge box, and other military artifacts. The combined assemblage from all fieldwork undertaken by Hunter consists of 395 artifacts, including some Native American materials, and other 18th, 19th and 20th century artifacts.

Metal detecting by Louis Berger Group in 2004-05 yielded 327 artifacts. The number includes
non-metal artifacts recovered during unearthing of metal detector targets, including clay tobacco pipe fragments, historic ceramics, and Native American artifacts. The majority of artifacts recovered appeared to post-date the Battle of Princeton or be non-military artifacts from the same era.

“A considerable amount of archeological fieldwork has been completed at the IAS faculty housing  project area, yet these studies only represent a starting point towards developing the archeological  research potential of the Princeton Battlefield,” reads the Ottery Group report. “Recovery of lead balls and grapeshot from the Princeton Battlefield State Park and from the faculty housing project area on Institute for Advanced Study property supports the association between these lands and the violence of the battle. Ongoing analysis of the combined  artifact assemblages from previous studies on Institute for Advanced Study land will contribute to future research.”

“A final report will be prepared by The Ottery Group that addresses the outcome of archeological monitoring, and also presents results following the completion of ongoing aspects of this study. It is  anticipated that the review of the interim report by professionals, regulatory agencies, and the  interested public will enhance the contribution of the final report to the knowledge of the Battle of  Princeton,” reads the report.

battlefield Institute Princeton

Krystal Knapp

Krystal Knapp is the founding editor of Planet Princeton. She can be reached via email at editor AT planetprinceton.com. Send all letters to the editor and press releases to that email address.

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