Archaeology Magazine Archive

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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Digging Old Brooklyn Volume 51 Number 5, September/October 1998
by Mark Rose

[image] Foundations of the Lott house stone kitchen (C. Ricciardi) [LARGER IMAGE]

Excavation of a historic house in the Flatlands section of southeastern Brooklyn is yielding new information about the transition of early farming communities from rural villages to urban neighborhoods. The area was settled in the mid-seventeenth century by immigrants from the Low Countries who farmed and herded cattle in the marshy land around Jamaica Bay. Little is known of the everyday life of these people, who lived in relative isolation from the nearby city that would become New York.

The Brooklyn College Archaeological Research Center has begun digging at the Hendrick I. Lott homestead, one of the area's last remaining farmstead sites. The 1800 house incorporates the 1720 home of Lott's grandfather, and it is the only Dutch-American farmhouse in Brooklyn still on its original property. The site is likely to have intact deposits in wells and privies, as well as remains of outbuildings.

Directed by H. Arthur Bankoff, Frederick A. Winter, and Christopher Ricciardi, the excavations have focused on a nineteenth-century stone kitchen, exposing foundations of walls and a hearth. Artifacts recovered from within the structure include mid-eighteenth- and mid-nineteenth-century ceramics. Tortoise-shell hair clips, children's toys, and bone and shell buttons were also found, as well as a few sherds of an Asian ginger jar. To the north of the structure was a dump, containing oyster and clam shells, cow and pig bones, and discarded ceramics.

The finds suggest that in the course of the nineteenth century these isolated farmers became more closely linked to the economy of the growing city, buying more goods either made there or imported from abroad.

© 1998 by the Archaeological Institute of America