The First Dig at Frontenac Island

Bone Deer Head Effigy from Frontenac Island. Source: Cadzow 1925

Bone effigy deer’s head found on Frontenac Island, NY. Source: Cadzow 1925, Figure 33.

The Frontenac Island site in Cayuga Lake, New York, was excavated by William Ritchie in 1939-1940, and then again several years later. The first professional excavations on the island, however, were conducted by Donald Cadzow for the Museum of the American Indian around the same time Ritchie was beginning to excavate the Lamoka Lake site.

“For many years Cayuga county, New York, has been a happy hunting-ground for commercial pothunters and local diggers,” Cadzow wrote,  but Frontenac Island had “been protected for many years by public-spirited citizens living nearby.” (p. 56, 58) Cadzow received permission from the island’s owners (the village of Union Springs) to dig on the island, beginning in late July 1924. Excavations were limited, but finds included pottery and human burials. Included with one of the burials were four stone plummets, one winged bannerstone, a bone animal effigy interpreted as a deer’s head, three beaver incisors, one notched point, three antler flakers, two bone “arrowpoints” (one looks harpoon-like) and the left humerus of a swan, which had been cut and polished and perforated.

Frontenac Island Bone Points. Source: Cadzow 1925

Bone “arrowpoints’ from Frontenac Island, NY. Source: Cadzow 1925, Figure 35.

Frontenac Island. Source: Cadzow 1925

Frontenac Island. Source: Cadzow 1925.

Reference:

Cadzow, Donald

1925  Prehistoric Algonkian Burial Site in Cayuga County, New York. Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation Indian Notes 2(1):56-63.

 

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