Frost Town Archaeology is an archaeological field school, local to the Finger Lakes Region and the College at Brockport – SUNY. Directed by Dr. Alexander J. Smith, the project works in cooperation with the Cumming Nature Center of the Rochester Museum and Science Center. Frost Town, as it is known today, was located in and around the current property of the Cumming Nature Center. Also referred to as West Bristol, the area known as Frost Town and the Frost Hill Road is located just a few miles northwest of Naples, NY.
Frost Town has been the subject of excavations since at least 2012 and the subject of historical studies since the 1970’s when the Cumming Nature Center was first built. Dr. Smith started working with the nature center in 2017 to help with their annual Family Archaeology Weekend. From at least 2012, excavations had been carried out at the site in a piecemeal fashion as part of these public archaeology events.
Frost Town Archaeology officially started as a standalone, comprehensive project in 2019, with our inaugural field school season. This new chapter in archaeology at the Cumming Nature Center focuses on combining all the known historical, ethnographic, archaeological, and museological resources surrounding the site into one comprehensive, interdisciplinary, and multi-year project. We plan to utilize various remote sensing techniques, ethnographic studies, historical analyses, environmental analyses, standard field archaeology, and public outreach methods. We hope to create an accessible dig for students in the area, an accessible resource for local families and scholars alike, as well as a lasting record of the Finger Lakes Region’s evolution over the past 200 years.
Our fieldwork began in 2019 with what we call the Hall Residence, named after the earliest discernible inhabitant of a stone foundation. This site had been excavated a number of times before the 2019 season, though much of the site remains undisturbed. See the link below for information on our previous seasons.
At the core of Frost Town Archaeology is an emphasis on public practice and public archaeology. We continue to hold public outreach events for families every September through the Cumming Nature Center (for more information, click here) and every year Dr. Smith and the Frost Town team help run the Rochester Museum and Science Center’s summer archaeology camps. In fact, these camps form part of our field school structure, as students are taught to do archaeology and then to teach archaeology to the public, in this case children ranging from 10-15 years old.
Finally, Frost Town Archaeology is devoted to its students of all levels. We hold a biannual field school for any undergraduate student to attend, especially those who are interested in a local affordable option in the Finger Lakes Region. We actively work with the Cumming Nature Center to involve students from their Forest School with research and excavation. If you want to do archaeology, we want to help you. Frost Town is about creating scholarly opportunities for students in our own backyard, and Dr. Smith and the Frost Town team actively publish and present data together at conferences and in scholarly publications. See below for more details on current presentations, exhibits, and publications.