Astor House archaeology dig finds fragments of building’s past

Golden’s historic Astor Residence is on the verge of a new chapter as the Foothills Art Center is moving ahead with turning the aged hotel and boardinghouse into a gallery and group art room.

But very first, a group of archaeologists and volunteers are achieving further more into the house’s past by turning their interest to a area with prospective insights that have primarily long gone unexamined: the sprawling Astor Property lawn.

On June 22, a group of archaeologists and fascinated volunteers descended on the yard for a 16-working day archaeological dig.

Area archaeologist Nathan Boyless, who is on the Foothills Art Middle board, approached Michele Koons, an archaeologist with the Denver Museum of Mother nature & Science, about collaborating on the undertaking. Boyless felt the time was appropriate to see what type of artifacts could be unearthed from the property now in advance of operate commences on a rear addition that will choose up a important part of the property.

“I considered it sounded wonderful,” claimed Koons. “I love neighborhood archaeology and I believe it is a really excellent option to get men and women connected to the historical past of their town.”

To start out the project, Foothills brought in an professional named Jennie Sturm to use ground-penetrating radar to map the lawn. Sturm said that radar system was capable to select up on sections of the property that may well have been disturbed by folks in some way and contain substance or artifacts that might add new perception into the house’s past.

“It’s a really effective way to do archaeology due to the fact you are concentrating on areas more particularly relatively than randomly digging and just with any luck , hitting something,” she reported.

Based on the maps, a group of archaeologists then set about the process of excavating the two sections of the lawn that appeared to keep the most promise. That course of action included digging down about 10 centimeters at a time, mapping and documenting just about every layer and then excavating any artifacts that were being found on that layer.

“It’s like draining a bathtub with toys in it,” said Amy Gillaspie, a volunteer archaeologist with the museum, who co-led the task with Koons. “As the water receives decreased and lower you get started to see the toys occur up.”

Gillaspie claimed the radar strategy experienced verified to be a thriving a single as the group experienced unearthed a selection of artifacts, such as rib and rib-eye bones that ended up probable discarded from the kitchen and a nickel courting back to 1867.

Also discovered were being several items of ceramic with maker’s marks on them that can be dated again to the late 1800s in England as perfectly as the previous nails and pieces of brick a person would be expecting to find on an archaeological dig of this kind.

Quite a few of the most intriguing artifacts, such as the nickel, will go to the Golden Historical Museum and Park, which will increase them into its selection.

Having said that, there are other items, these types of as broken glass fragments, that wouldn’t be of much use to the museum and are alternatively slated for a further intent.

“We’re actually donating those people to Foothills Artwork Heart and they are speaking about incorporating them into a foreseeable future artwork piece that will be part of the building,” she claimed.

The archaeologists are also in the course of action of generating a report outlining their results for History Colorado. That report, to be produced available to the general public sometime next yr, is significant mainly because it will also include information and facts about insights obtained from examining the existence of diverse rock and dust levels.

Those include things like foundations that recommend the existence of a fireplace pit and foundations of a wood framework Gillaspie described as a “kitchen lean-to.”

In general, Gillaspie stated she felt the dig experienced been “a superb task.”

“We’re not essentially locating treasure or everything mad interesting but we are obtaining things that will tell an intriguing tale,” she said. “Such as what was cooked below and things like that. And it’s super rare that we have the prospect for distinct research organizations and universities and their pupils appear in and do the job alongside one another, so it’s been tremendous one of a kind in that regard.”