This month as I drive down narrow country roads on my way to work, the sunlight shines at low angles through the tree canopies ahead, reminding me of an earlier time when I walked through October light in Albany, New York’s Washington Park on my way to the State Museum. It was the late 1970s, and I had come to Albany from Binghamton to study with State Archaeologist Bob Funk, supported by a SUNY pre-doctoral research fellowship.
Numbers 83-84 of the journal Northeast Anthropology is a single, integrated, guest-edited volume titled Archaeological Landscapes: Scale, Technology and Emerging Approaches. It is guest-edited by Nina M. Versaggi, Laurie E. Miroff, and Edward V. Curtin.
I was saddened this morning to learn of the passing of Dena Dincauze, one of the most prominent archaeologists ever in Northeastern United States archaeology (and indeed, American archaeology).
Because history gives meaning to places, I have looked closely at reconstructing the history of Frontenac Island. This appears to be a very long and eventful history.
If history is the process of human life experienced, symbolized, and remembered, then Frontenac Island must be one of the oldest and most significant historic places in New York State.
We have been energized and excited by the circulation of our recent Facebook post, a meme asking for a little kind consideration for archaeologists who have to work outdoors in cold, winter weather. We know this job well, we of the Northeastern U.S. Chapped Hands Archaeology Tradition.
Arthur Parker had long suspected that New York State’s prehistoric past featured a very ancient era before the invention of pottery and agriculture. By the early 1920s, he referred to this poorly-documented period as the Archaic Algonkian (Parker 1922). He also recognized another early culture that he called Eskimo-like due to the presence in artifact assemblages of polished stone (especially slate) items similar to those used historically by Inuit people. The Eskimo-like artifacts included ground and polished ulus (a.k.a. semi-lunar knives) and projectile points or knife blades, which in some places were found with other polished stone types such as plummets and gouges (these later were grouped together as diagnostic types of Laurentian Archaic assemblages; Ritchie 1944). Parker (1922) was not sure which was earlier, the Archaic Algonkian or Eskimo-like culture.
Last week the radiocarbon dating firm Beta-Analytic, Inc. provided a radiocarbon date for an archaeological feature excavated by Curtin Archaeological in the Town of Wilton, Saratoga County, New York. The date is 8760 +/- 40 years before present (BP), which when calibrated to the actual range of calendar time (with near-100% certainty) is 7610-7950 BC. This age falls within the poorly understood period that archaeologists in eastern North America refer to as the Early Archaic (8,000-10,000 radiocarbon years BP), and it is one of only a small number of radiocarbon dates of similar age associated with archaeological sites in New York State.
The “Missing 2000 Years” refers to the period 8,000-10,000 years before present (BP). The former New York State Archaeologist Robert E. Funk (2004:130) used this concept to refer to the poorly known Early Archaic period.