The Tariffville Project History
Early in March of 2005 I received an Email via this website, mudandmuck.com. A woman (Donna) claimed she had found a bunch of Native American artifacts in a basement and thought I should check it out. I wasn't sure what to think, but I contacted her immediately and what came to be was truly an amazing discovery. The Tariffville House was built in 1861, right in the heart of Tobacco Country in Connecticut. It was part of a plantation in its earliest days, one of many that filled the fertile Connecticut River Valley. True to its time, it has a field stone foundation which is mostly still in place. It is our general belief, that at some point in the past, a previous owner had stored a lifetimes collection of Indian artifacts found in the nearby fields in the basement. At the time, the basement was probably dry. But being fieldstone, this basement began to chronically leak and fill with water and silt. Very little remained of any storage means. Some fragments of wooden crates and only deteriorated newspaper found in one spot on the outskirts. I found two dates in the late seventies, but I did not find the fragments wrapped around artifacts. These arrowheads and stone tools had become part of the floor itself. The artifacts were against two walls joining in one corner. Groups of types and materials were found as they were being removed. Ninety percent of the pieces were buried within six inches of solid mud. The largest stone tools seemed to be everywhere but I had not seen the basement before digging had begun. The present owner purchased the house nine years ago. He described the scene as dirt and mud with the larger stone tools near the center almost in a circle. Perhaps the remnant of a pile. He began to find an arrowhead or two on the surface and even let neighborhood kids scrape around and find one. No one was sure why or what was going on. Even burial theories where bantered, a sacred spot. Well, time had come to sell the house and it was suggested that a little more exploration be done, so they began to dig. They immediately began to come up with handfuls of arrowheads and artifacts. When it was done, more than two thousand artifacts had been recovered. Mostly points and knifes, but including a wide array of other objects. We as a club were privileged to catch the end of the exhumation and had a great time. Our final day we removed all the dirt and mud and screened it with a hose. It worked great. What fun to see the gleaming worked artifacts appear from the mud and muck! Among the objects recovered where drills, mushroom knifes, chipped axes and hoes. Pestles, adzes, Celts, and polished stones. One Paleo base was found. Two bifurcates, and many very fine points. Virtually no chipping debris was found. There are many whole pieces and many broken ones. It is my personal belief that this collection was acquired many more than thirty years ago. I find it hard to believe that in thirty years alone, all of the storage means would have so completely deteriorated. Collecting artifacts started to become big in the fifties but I know there have been collectors during all of our countries history. Many of the best places to find artifacts have either been picked over for years or simply don't exist anymore because of construction. The overall extent of the collection suggests that this individual(s) had found very prolific areas, perhaps fields being turned at or near their first time of use. There's no way I could amass a collection of this scope in my lifetime without being dedicated full time, and finding brand new areas, a rare event these days. How or who, we may never know. There will hopefully be some research continued on these matters. For now we have major portion of the collection in frames by type and have begun the long process of cataloguing them. Before the holidays we invited Dr. Nick Bellentoni, our Connecticut State Archaeologist, to come and observe our progress. He was most impressed with the entire collection and the work that has been done thus far. He gives his blessings.
Please feel free to email any questions and I will do my best to answer.
- Steve, Recordkeeper.    srg1031@sbcglobal.net


Pictures from the Tariffville Project

(Click image to enlarge)

TariffvilleBasement.JPGTariffvilleBasement TariffvilleBasement2.JPGTariffvilleBasement2
TariffvilleFindsPrelim1.JPGTariffvilleFindsPrelim1 TariffvilleFindsPrelim2.JPGTariffvilleFindsPrelim2
TariffvilleFindsPrelim3.JPGTariffvilleFindsPrelim3 TariffvilleFindsPrelim4.JPGTariffvilleFindsPrelim4
TariffvilleFindsPrelim5.JPGTariffvilleFindsPrelim5 TariffvilleFindsPrelim6.JPGTariffvilleFindsPrelim6
TariffvilleHouseFront.JPGTariffvilleHouseFront TariffvilleScreens1.JPGTariffvilleScreens1
Tariffvillescreens2.JPGTariffvilleScreens2

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