The Lamoka Power Corporation

Local historian Vinnie Nykiel gave a talk on hydroelectric power in the Lamoka Valley on June 17. 

In the early twentieth century, there was an ambitious plan to dam the entire valley (which would have flooded a vast area, including the Lamoka Lake archaeological site). 

A preview of his talk to the Town of Wayne History Group is at the Corning Leader

Maintaining the Lamoka Lake Site

Protecting archaeological sites that have been preserved by the Archaeological Conservancy requires regular inspection and maintenance. The Lamoka Lake site is still mowed seasonally, as it has been for years. See their website for more on how they maintain their other New York sites.

Lamoka Lake site being mowed. Summer 2015. Source: The Archaeological Conservancy

Argillite Point from Lamoka Lake

The first interesting find isn’t an animal bone. This argillite projectile point was mistakenly put in with the animal bones in the field. It’s unusual to find argillite tools at the Lamoka Lake site – most of the Lamoka points at the site are made from Onondaga chert. In the original excavations in the 1920s, however, William Ritchie did identify a single biface made from argillite which, he said, was identical to the argillite found in New Jersey.

Argillite Point from Lamoka Lake. LL.1990.93.1
Argillite Point from Lamoka Lake.
LL.1990.93.1

This point is similar to Lackawaxen points found in the northeast, especially in Pennsylvania, that also date to the Late Archaic period. Compare it with these Lackawaxen points excavated from a CRM project in Philadelphia.

Have Deer Gotten Smaller Since the Archaic?

A white-tailed deer in the Adirondacks of New York.  Late Archaic deer were larger than modern New York deer.
A white-tailed deer in the Adirondacks of New York. Deer in the Adirondacks tend to be smaller than those found in Central New York. Late Archaic deer were larger than modern New York deer. Source: Mwanner. Creative Commons license CC-BY-SA 3.0 Wikimedia Commons.

The average white-tailed deer killed during the Late Archaic at Lamoka Lake weighed 77 kg, or 170 pounds.

That’s the estimate derived from measuring the astragalus, a bone in the lower leg of white-tailed deer.  By the Late Woodland to Protohistoric Period in New York, deer found at the Engelbert Site averaged 64.5 kg, or 142 pounds.

How big was the largest identified deer at Lamoka Lake? Over 155 kg, or  342 pounds.

To learn how these weight estimates were derived, and learn more about deer body size, get the paper:

Preliminary Archaeological Evidence for a Decrease in White-Tailed Deer Body Size in New York during the Holocene.

 

 

More Details of the Lamoka Diorama

Lamoka diorama interiorHere’s a photo showing part of the interior of the house in the Lamoka diorama at the New York State Museum. The lodge itself is based on Ritchie’s interpretation of the numerous post molds and features he described as floors at the site, as detailed in his book The Archaeology of New York State. The contents of the interior of the lodge are more speculative. Some items are based on actual artifacts found at the site, like the antlers seen hanging from one of the wooden supports. Others are undoubtedly inferred from more recent Native Americans, ethnographic hunter-gatherers, and other archaeological evidence. The textiles in particular are beautifully done.

Especially interesting is the bow seen hanging on the left side of the photo. Most archaeologists would probably doubt that bows and arrows were used during the Late Archaic in New York. Instead, atlatls (spear throwers) are considered the primary projectile weapon of the time (although bannerstones/atlatl weights are rare to nonexistent at Lamoka). The issue is unresolved however, and several archaeologists have argued for the presence of bows and arrows by this time period (see, for example, Evidence for Bow and Arrow Use in the Small Point Late Archaic of Southwestern Ontario
by Kristen Snarey and Christopher Ellis).

Recreating Lamoka at the New York State Museum

Lamoka Diorama at NYSMAlways love seeing the life-size diorama of the Lamoka Lake site, representing the Archaic Period, at the New York State Museum in Albany. Based, of course, on Ritchie’s excavations at the site, the man in the center is wearing one of the enigmatic antler pendants from the site as, yes, a pendant. He also has a bone-handled knife at his waist, is carrying a fishing net with netsinkers, and wears a shell bead necklace (Ritchie actually thought the shell beads found at the site were associated with the later Woodland occupation). In the background, you can see a fish weir across the narrow channel between the two lakes (there is no direct evidence for weirs at the site) and fish drying racks (some post molds from the site were interpreted this way).