Ephraim Sprague House Archaeological Site

A Time Capsule from the 18th Century


artifact is any human-made or modified object or fragment of an object, such as a pottery sherd, gunflint, or nail.
Barlow jacknife: a type of folding knife with a large iron bolster, named after a family of English cutlers named Barlow, who are believed to have produced a knife of this type.
Ballast: heavy materials that were put in the hold of a ship to lower its center of gravity, thereby countering the rolling forces produced by the sails.
Calcined bone  has been incinerated by fire and is typically small, brittle, white and chalky.
Came: a strip of grooved lead used to hold window panes together.
Carbonization: the burning or scorching of organic materials, particularly plant remains such as seeds or grains, in conditions of insufficient oxygen for full combustion. This results in their long-term preservation in a fairly stable state.
Cross-passage houses are long and narrow houses that originated in Britain before colonization of America began. They had a large cross-passage or hall that perpendicularly bisected the house. Rooms usually included a pantry, kitchen, hall and parlor. Cross-passage houses were related to “longhouses,” which kept the family’s cattle in a large room at one end of the house called a byre.
Chowder: a thick soup or stew
Dressed stone: stone that has been shaped by chipping and breaking it with a hammer.
Ecofacts are organic materials associated with human activity, such as corn.
Features are manmade creations that are not portable, such as cellars, post holes, and foundation walls.
Foodways are those activities and artifacts that are associated with the growing, storage, preparation, and consumption of food.
Foundation-on-ground was a house construction technique whereby the house sills were laid on a fieldstone foundation that rested directly on the ground surface.
Flintlock: a type of gun ignition system in which a gunflint strikes a steel, producing sparks that ignite priming gunpowder, causing the gun to discharge.
Fire steel: a handheld device made from steel used to create sparks when struck against a strike-a-light. They were typically “C”-, oval-, or “J”-shaped.
Home lot: the area around a house, where domestic chores such as clothes-washing and soap-making were carried out; the well would also be included. 
Hall: a large room used for eating, working and sleeping.
Homespun: simple and rustic items made in the house, usually for family use. It often referred to cloth made on a home loom. 
Loom: an apparatus used for weaving cloth.
Milk pan: were wide and shallow basins that held the milk during the process of separating the cream, which floated to the top of the pans. The cream was then skimmed off and converted into cheese and butter, important staples.
Pottage: a thick soup made of various vegetables, and sometimes meat. From the Old French word potage, “soup.”
Quill wheel: a small wheel used to wind yarn from the swift to shuttle bobbins.
Sauce pit: a food-storage pit used in Colonial New England to store root vegetables, or “sauce,” through the winter. Sauce pits were dug into cellar floors or outside of the house and were typically 2-3 feet in diameter in plan, shaped like an inverted bell and basin-shaped on the bottom.
Sherd: an archaeological term for a piece of broken pottery.
Splitting feathers: small iron wedges with a head, a flat and a convex side, and a point used in stone-working. Pairs were placed in drilled holes and a third wedge was pounded between them; the force caused the rock to split.
Strike-a-light: a hard stone, such as flint, that creates sparks when struck against a fire steel. Strike-a-lights were commonly made from broken flint cobbles or gunflints.
Swift: a device for holding a skein of spun yarn.

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