The team located the vendor booths by uncovering stacked stones and other features consistent with human, and not natural, activity. “I think we are all relatively aware that things did not go as planned when nearly half a million people showed up instead of the estimated 50,000,” said O’Donovan in an email to Gizmodo. “In the Bindy Bazaar area, we were able to locate traces of the original vendor’s booths, which consisted of lines of rock that formed the base for relatively ephemeral booths of wood, tarps, and so on.
Interestingly, however, the booths were arranged in a discernibly ad hoc manner—one inconsistent with the maps. “Our research demonstrated that the reality of what occurred at Woodstock was not captured by the preliminary plans,” said O’Donovan. “Archaeologists located 24 potential vendor booths concentrated on one side of the Bindy Bazaar area and not distributed as on the 1969 plans.
In the words of Maria O’Donovan, the project director and an archaeologist at Binghamton University, the Bindy Bazaar was “a meeting place where transactions—which included trading and bartering, in addition to selling—and cultural interactions took place. ” For O’Donovan, it exemplified “the informal, free-wheeling spirit of the counterculture,” she said in a press release.
In preparation for the 50th anniversary of the festival, a research team from Binghamton University, the Museum at Bethel Woods, and Bethel Woods Center for the Arts conducted a series of ground surveys at the site.
The 50th anniversary of the Woodstock music festival is fast approaching, and though the iconic cultural event still resides within living memory, the site is now the subject of archaeological inquiry.
That the Woodstock organizers were caught a bit off guard wasn’t much of a revelation, but O’Donovan was surprised by what her team did not find. “This may seem a bit counter-intuitive given the reputation of Woodstock, but we found very little evidence of drug related paraphernalia,” she said. “This may just be due to the fact that we used several methods, such as surface survey, that did not entail digging, and the small sample size we have.