Ed Curtin has posted a brief summary of some of the papers presented at the recent NYSAA meeting on his Fieldnotes blog.
The journal Assemblage has just published the Proceedings of the Postgraduate Zooarchaeology Forum held at the University of Sheffield in 2012. All eight papers can be freely downloaded at the Assemblage website.
All but one of the papers deal with Old World assemblages. The exception is Sofia Tecce’s analysis of animal bones from Estancia Pueyrredón 2 in Argentina. This hunter-gatherer site dates to between 4,900-3,500 BP (yes, roughly the same time period as the Lamoka Lake site). The faunal assemblage is dominated by guanaco (although there are also a lot of unidentified rodents) and Tecce present a pretty comprehensive taphonomic analysis of the guanaco bones.
Publication of these papers is notable for another reason. As the editors, Lizzie Wright and Angela Trentacoste point out, the organizers
…had no funding for this conference, but charged our participants just £10, in the knowledge that many postgraduates are limited by financial constraints. The Sheffield Zooarchaeology team hosted (sometimes multiple) participants in their homes. It is worth mentioning the real lack of opportunities for funding an event such as this – postgraduate conference funding was cut by the Arts and Humanties Research Council in recent years, and The University of Sheffield had no appropriate money that we could apply for. This is a real problem when postgraduates often have little funding themselves.
Mauricio Anton’s artwork of the Olduvai Gorge landscape, not quite two million years ago:
Around the same time native Americans were living at the Lamoka Lake site, Celts in Ireland were building a trackway, or wooden road, over the bogs near Galway Bay. That’s based on an estimated date between 3,500 and 4,500 years ago; it appears no radiocarbon dating has been conducted yet.
Discoverer Alan Keogh “had heard about the drowned forest and recognised the significance of what appeared to be a ‘symmetrical structure’ below a line of peat.”
According to Geologist Mike Williams “It could have been built during the late Neolithic or early Bronze age era, and may have been ceremonial or may have been built across wetland which was decaying forest, forming into bog.”
Another wooden artifact, the Bearna canoe, was found in the same part of Ireland several years ago and has been dated to 4,740 years ago.
“The canoe was freshwater, and these people used them for fishing and as a form of transport – like our stand-up paddle-boards.”
Discovered another Trowelblazers post with a Lamoka connection, which led me into the interesting and complex family history of Arthur Parker.
Bertha “Birdie” Parker Pallan Thurston Cody was the daughter of Beulah Tahamont Parker and Arthur Parker, New York State Archaeologist and Rochester Museum director. She had an interesting and complicated life of her own, working as an archaeologist/anthropologist at the Southwest Museum in Los Angeles, California for many years. That was only part of her life, however.
A Jack’s Reef point was found at the Lamoka Lake site during the Buffalo Museum of Science excavations. These pentagonal or corner-notched pentagonal points date to the Kipp Island Phase (beginning around A.D. 500) of the Middle Woodland in New York State. Farther south, they are associated with the equivalent Webb Phase.
Darrin Lowery recently looked at Jack’s Reef in the Delmarva Peninsula (i.e., parts of Delaware, Maryland, and a little bit of Virginia). Important sites include Island Field in Delaware, which had over 100 human burials, bone tools, shell beads, shark teeth, and more, and the Riverton Site (18WC5) in Maryland, another burial site (unfortunately not professionally excavated), which had stone platform pipes, a Ramah chert knife, and stone celts and adzes.
Jack’s Reef sites can be found eroding out of the shore line, such as at the Oxford (18TA3) and Wheatley’s Point (18DO371) sites in Maryland. One major find at the latter site was a cache of fossil shark teeth. Lowery found and excavated the Upper Ridge Site (44NH440) in Virginia, which had an midden with food remains, including a large number of fish bones. VA. The lithic evidence at Upper Ridge documents the entire sequence of manufacturing Jack’s Reef points, from core to flake to finished product.
Lowery, Darrin L.
2013 Jack’s Reef in in the Chesapeake and Delmarva Region: Research into the Coastal Archaeology of the Era Between circa Cal A.D. 480 and Cal A.D. 900. Archaeology of Eastern North America 41:5-30.
Mike Toner, in the Spring 2014 issue of American Archaeology, writes about the threats to American archaeological sites posed by extreme weather. Forest fires in the southwest, Drought from Texas to California, melting glaciers in Alaska, and sea level rise along the coasts are exposing previously unknown artifacts but also destroying them.
Some of the facts and figures are astounding: over 100 prehistoric wooden dugout canoes were uncovered around one shrinking lake in Florida. Entire historic towns, once covered by reservoirs, are now exposed. Wooden arrows, complete with fletching, have been found melting out of ice patches. With so many archaeological resources, and so little time and money to properly identify and preserve them before they are destroyed by nature or looters, archaeologists are forced to practice triage. One of the sadder quotes comes from a National Park Service official: “There are going to be some situations where we will have to learn to say goodbye to resources we can’t protect.”
Mike Toner, “The threat of climate change”. American Archaeology, Spring 2014, pp. 12-19.
To read the whole article, you have to get it from your local newsstand, but see one of the dugout canoes at the Archaeological Conservancy.
The archaeology of the Northeast has not been characterized by any spectacular breakthroughs in the study of prehistoric social or political organization.
Bruce Trigger 1981
Spray paint and bullets were used to deface Hidden Cave, a major archaeological site on BLM land in Nevada. A $1,000 reward is being offered, and public tours of the site have been suspended while officials investigate. According to the official press release, this is the first incidence of vandalism at the site.
Hidden Cave was most extensively excavated by David Hurst Thomas and the American Museum of Natural History and provided valuable information on Late Archaic hunter-gatherers. The Museum has a nice post on the history of the cave, (conditions in the cave during excavation sound horrid) and they also make the full site report freely available.
There’s a Lamoka connection, too: Mark R. Harrington, the first archaeologist to explore Hidden Cave, was married to the sister of Arthur Parker, head of the Rochester Museum while Lamoka Lake was being excavated in the 1920s.
Artifacts from the early Spanish site in St. Augustine, Florida (associated with Pedro Menendez de Aviles, not Ponce de Leon) are being donated to the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida. U. Florida archaeologists have been excavating the site, and storing the artifacts, for many years, so it appears this will make the curatorial arrangement permanent, and perhaps provide a tax break for the owners of the site.