Just across a narrow road from the Ted Stiles Preserve, the Fiddler’s Creek Preserve includes a large open area of former farmland and a wooded ravine.
The South Riverwalk Park, or Deck Park, was built on top of the Route 29 Tunnel along the Delaware River in Trenton, New Jersey. The design of the park was informed by the archaeological and historical research conducted prior to construction of the tunnel. A series of arches made of different materials (Steel, iron, brick, wood) represent each century of historic occupation of Trenton. The first arch evokes the construction techniques used by Native Americans for thousands of years before Europeans arrived. Plaques inset into the ground record the many milestones of local history. The south end borders Riverview Cemetery; at the North end, steps lead down to Waterfront Park, the home of the Trenton Thunder, the AA affiliate of the New York Yankees.
Newspapers from 1836 to 1922 will be digitized and made available through the Library of Congress thanks to a grant from the NEH:
Before eminent archaeologist John Cotter passed away in 1999, he donated much of his personal library to his colleague Anthony Boldurian and the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg. As they sorted through the books, file folders, and papers, they found something completely unexpected: a plastic sandwich bag with two neatly wrapped Clovis fluted points inside.
Cotter is best known as one of the pioneers of American historical archaeology, but he began his career studying Paleoindian archaeology, earning his M.A. in 1935. He had originally planned to write his dissertation on the Clovis material from Blackwater Draw, but by the time he returned to graduate studies at Penn in the 1950s, he had switched his subject to the excavations he had done at historic Jamestown, Virginia with the National Park Service. Yet he always maintained an interest in Paleoindian archaeology, and in fact his final publication, with Boldurian, was titled Clovis Revisited.
One of the points was labeled with his name and the location “Western Kentucky 1939.” At that time, Cotter was the state supervisor of the Archaeological Survey of Kentucky, and much of his time was spent examining the multiple excavations underway and ferrying supplies and artifacts to and from the laboratory, but there is no other contextual information for this point.
The second point is unlabeled, but made from a type of chert (Vera Cruz jasper) found in eastern Pennsylvania. The authors don’t say how difficult it was to figure this one out, but they matched this point to a photo of a fluted point found in New Jersey and published in one of the early articles on Paleoindian stone tools, Edgar B. Howard’s 1934 “Grooved Spearpoints.” That New Jersey point was in the collections of the University Museum at the University of Pennsylvania, where Cotter became a professor and curator. The authors found a drawing of the same Clovis point in the appendix of Cotter’s 1935 thesis.
The projectile point is part of the Newbold collection, accumulated by a New Jersey gentleman farmer in the second half of the nineteenth century. Michael Newbold would pay his workers as much as five cents for artifacts they found on his farm in Burlington County. After his death, the then-new University Museum acquired his collection – decades before anyone knew how old those fluted points were.
How did they end up among the paperwork? It seems likely Cotter was working with the specimens (he was particularly interested in a specific diagnostic characteristic, called basal polish or basal edge grinding, that both points have) in his office and at some point –perhaps even after his death– the bag holding them got bundled up with related articles and filed away in a bookshelf. It’s a nice example of lost artifacts being found again.
Boldurian, Anthony T., Justin D. McKeel, and Mason G. Pickel
2012 Gifts from an archaeologist’s bookcase: John L. Cotter’s library. North American Archaeologist 33(2):193-237.
The MSU Campus Archaeology site has a new post by Katy Meyers Emery about a Frozen Charlotte doll found in one of their digs.
The name comes from a poem, and later a song, about a young woman who, not wanting to cover up her pretty dress, refused to dress warmly for a long sleigh ride with her beau. When they arrived at the party, he discovered, to his horror, that Charlotte had frozen to death.
The small, inexpensive dolls do not have moving limbs – i.e., they look frozen. They were quite common in the mid to late 1800s, and may also have been easily lost or broken, as they turn up not infrequently on historical archaeological sites.
The photos below show some of the Charlottes (as well as other toys and trinkets) excavated from house sites in a former late nineteenth century working class neighborhood in Jersey City, New Jersey.
Howson, Jean, and Leonard G. Bianchi
2014 Covert-Larch: Archaeology of a Jersey City Neighborhood. Data Recovery for the Route 1&9T (25) St. Paul’s Viaduct Replacement Project Jersey City, Hudson County, NJ. Cultural Resource Unit, The RBA Group, Inc.
The original post is at MSU Campus Archaeology
This artifact display/birdbath was made by a private collector in New Jersey. It was documented by the WPA-funded Indian Site Survey in 1937. Learn more at newjerseyarchaeology.wordpress.com.