How did Lamoka Lake get its name?

Lamoka is a word that you don’t see used much other than for the lake itself, and the prehistoric archaeological culture found along its shores. Does anyone know where its name came from?

On early maps, including the 1829 Atlas of New York and the 1869 New Map of the State of New York, Lamoka is named Mud Lake, and Waneta Lake to the north is called Little Lake. By 1874, in an atlas of Schuyler County, Lamoka Lake appears on the map, although Little Lake is still used for Waneta. In the 1879 book History of Tioga, Chemung, Tompkins and Schuyler Counties, New York, “Lamoka” is used repeatedly, and Little Lake has become “Wanetta.”

1874 Map of Schuyler County.

I’m not surprised they changed the name – there are at least 30 other Mud lakes in New York, and Lamoka has a nice sound to it—but I’d like to know where they got the name from.

If anybody knows, or has any clues, please leave a comment!

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.

Back to the Bones

It’s been a while since we’ve written anything about the actual archaeology of the Lamoka Lake site, but that’s about to change. I’m starting the identification of a large assemblage of animal bones from the site that hasn’t been studied before. The first step is to get out the bone binders with photocopied and hand-drawn reference material. These are in need of some new binders.

Zooarchaeology Binders

The bone identification guides are also getting pulled out of the bookshelves. Yes, I know there are some duplicates.

Zooarchaeology Identification Guides

 

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.