Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Thanksgiving Dinner Table

The American holiday that would become known as Thanksgiving had its origins in Europe. Many towns and villages held celebrations to mark a plentiful harvest and blessings of the previous year. When the first Europeans came to America in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, they brought these harvest celebration traditions with them. Harvest celebrations and days of thanksgiving were held sporadically in the early colonies as no formal holiday existed. The First National Proclamation of Thanksgiving was issued by the Continental Congress from its temporary capitol in York, Pennsylvania in 1777. Thanksgiving has been celebrated as a national holiday since 1863 when it was designated by President Abraham Lincoln.

Over the years since the first celebrations were held, many types of table wares have held the Thanksgiving holiday meal. From deer and squash on wooden bowls and pewter dishes, to turkey and mashed potatoes on disposable plastic plates; the feast is served on the popular dishes of the day.

From the time of the first national Thanksgiving proclamation, the holiday meal would have been served on the fashionable table wares of the day including creamware and pearlware. Creamware and pearlware were fine earthenware ceramics manufactured in England from the mid-18th century through the 1840s. Creamware is a cream-colored porous ceramic that appears yellow or green where it pools in crevices. Pearlware appears white or slightly blue-tinted to the eye and pools blue in crevices. 

These ceramic types were produced in a large variety of vessel forms, sizes, decorative styles, and colors, and remain as highly popular today as they did in the decades around the turn of the 19th century. Creamware and pearlware are found on most archaeological sites of that time period and the State Museum of Pennsylvania collections hold many exceptional examples of these ceramic types.


A large variety of shell-edged pearlware vessels were recovered from Philadelphia Market Street Site 36Ph001 in the 1970s, including different sizes and shapes of food serving dishes and serving platters. Many of these pieces are decorated with a blue shell-edged rim pattern.



Blue Shell Edge Pearlware Serving Dishes and Platter

In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, holiday meals may have consisted of many courses of meats, wild game, and seafood with accompanying vegetable and side dishes. Sauces, creams, and gravies would have been provided to pour on top. Several blue shell-edged pearlware gravy or cream boats are part of this collection.


Blue Shell Edge Pearlware Gravy or Cream Boats

A table setting of the time would have consisted of numerous wine, liquor, and drinking glasses; individual place settings of up to 24 pieces; and different size plates and bowls for each course of food. These pearlware plates and bowls with green shell-edged rims were also recovered from site 36Ph001.


                                         Green Shell Edge Pearlware Plates and Bowl

Large creamware serving platters may have held meats such as turkey, chicken, fish, or pork. Creamware was available in several popular patterns. The serving platters pictured here have Feather edge and Royal edge rim patterns. 


Creamware Serving Platters: Feather Edge Pattern (left) and Royal Edge Pattern (right)

Creamware table settings were available in the Feather edge and Royal edge patterns, as well as in the Queens pattern, octagonal shaped rims, and several other patterns. Queen’s pattern or Queensware was named for its popularity with British Queen Charlotte.


 Creamware Bowl and Plate in Queen’s Pattern (top left and right) and Octagonal Plate (bottom)

Pearlware table wares with transfer-printed decorations became popular around the turn of the 19th century. Transfer printing involved transferring an inked design from a copper plate onto a ceramic vessel. Early transfer print pieces were available in blue, with later colors developing in black, brown, red, purple, and green. These pieces often exhibit oriental scenes, pastoral landscapes, or biblical and romantic motifs and were very popular at the time. The Head House and Commuter Tunnel sites in Philadelphia produced many beautiful ceramics including a number of transfer-printed pearlware vessels shown here.


Transfer-printed Pearlware Dishes in Blue and Black. Bottom Plate Motif is a Landscape Scene from Conway, New Hampshire

Creamware and pearlware vessels were also produced using many other decorative techniques including handpainting, dipping (annular, mocha, banded), sponging, luster glazing, enameling, embossing, and encrusting (gritted). The great popularity of creamware and pearlware ceramics finally began to die out in the mid-1800s, making way for whiteware and ironstone.

No matter how you choose to enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner – whether on grandma’s antique china or on Styrofoam plates – we in the Section of Archaeology wish you a terrific holiday! And should you decide you would like to set your table with some lovely creamware or pearlware, there are many websites where you can purchase these pieces , including this beautiful, 17-piece creamware set -  https://www.1stdibs.com/furniture/dining-entertaining/dinner-plates/english-pottery-creamware-blue-enamel-shell-edge-dessert-service/id-f_897887/.

Thank you to our followers, volunteers and colleagues who help us in our efforts to preserve the past for the future.  We have much to be thankful for and hope you’ll continue to follow our blog and visit with us in the future. 

For further information, please see these sources:

History Channel
2017    History of Thanksgiving. History Channel website, at http://www.history.com/topics/thanksgiving/history-of-thanksgiving.

Maryland Archaeological Conservation Lab
2002    Diagnostic Artifacts in Maryland. Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum website, at https://www.jefpat.org/diagnostic/index.htm.

Pilgrim Hall Museum
2017    Pilgrim Hall Museum website, at http://www.pilgrimhallmuseum.org/index.html.     

The Cook’s Guide
2005    The Cooks Guide and Housekeeper’s & Butler’s Assistant website, at     http://www.thecooksguide.com/articles/dining-etiquette.html.                                                   



For more information, visit PAarchaeology.state.pa.us or the Hall of Anthropology and Archaeology at The State Museum of Pennsylvania .

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Workshops Wrap-Up

As many of you may know, we recently held or annual Workshops in Archaeology on October 28, 2017.  This year’s theme was Ethnicity in the Archaeological Record; and although attendance was a little lighter than usual, the papers presented and the discussions provoked were as interesting as ever.

The day began with the Director of The State Museum of Pennsylvania, Beth Hager, welcoming everyone to the museum and generally setting the stage for this year’s installment of our workshops program.  Dr. Kurt Carr briefly introduced the topic of the day and was followed by our first presenter, Keith Heinrich of Pennsylvania’s State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO). 


Keith suggested that in some cases (not all) place names can be an indicator of ethnicity.  He discussed two examples, Germantown in Philadelphia and Polish Hill in Pittsburgh.  Being an architectural historian, he was also able to describe structural clues to ethnicity. 



The second presentation of the morning was scheduled to be Brice Obermeyer of the Delaware Nation who unfortunately was unable to join us.  Nothing daunted, our own Janet Johnson was able to collaborate with Mr. Obermeyer and deliver an interesting paper identifying a Delaware village in Missouri.  Janet drew comparisons between Delaware sites in Pennsylvania using clues such as personal ornaments (silver adornments, glass beads, brass points & cones…) as well as structural similarities in log cabin construction.



Session three was delivered by Ken Basalik from Cultural Heritage Research Services, Inc. (CHRS).  Ken delivered a cautionary summation of several historic sites in Pennsylvania acknowledging the difficulty of defining an ethnic group through both time and space.  In some examples, physical alterations of structures through time were enough to disguise what could have been ethnic attributes.  In other instances, the artifacts recovered alluded to one group or another with varying degrees of accuracy.  Concluding with the idea that in some cases, structures and artifacts may offer clues but the best way of deciphering ethnicity was historical documentation and the personal accounts of those that lived there, if available.



The fourth session of the morning was presented by Hannah Harvey, Pennsylvania’s State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO).  Her research was devoted exclusively to the company housing associated with the early 20th century Columbia Plate Glass Company near Blairsville in Indiana county.  Using documentation, predominantly census records, she was successful in “mapping the social geography of the community”.  



Although she too found it difficult to corroborate ethnicity via excavation.



John P. McCarthy, Cultural Preservation Specialist with the Delaware Division of Parks and Recreation, delivered the fifth paper, a discussion of burial practices at two early 19th century African American cemeteries in Philadelphia.  In several of the burials common yet unusual grave goods were interred with the deceased; coins, a shoe and a plate.  He contends that these are vestiges of spiritual non-Christian beliefs about the afterlife that developed in Africa and were demonstrative of an “African based social identity” in the face of growing hostility in 19th century Philadelphia.



The next paper also dealt with African Americans in Philadelphia, this time in the late 18th century.  Jed Levin, Chief of the History Branch of the Independence National Historical Park, spoke of the excavations at the National Constitution Center and the President’s House over the past 15 years and detailed the contrasting stories of two African Americans in Revolutionary War era Philadelphia.   One, James Oronoco Dexter a free coachmen and Ona Judge, Martha Washington’s enslaved seamstress.  Using both historical documentation and the archaeology he was able to construct a forgotten piece of our collective national history.



Our former Senior Archaeology Curator Steve Warfel spoke about the German religious community at Ephrata Cloister during the mid-18th century.  Steve’s presentation discussed the groups strict, pious, religious beliefs and how they changed as a result of internal and external pressures.  Some of these changes are reflected in the historic documentation others are not, but are evident in the archaeological record.  For example, their rules and beliefs are written about in several sources so they are known from the written record.  One such rule of behavior was a belief in poverty, they thought personal property to be sinful, and yet redware dishes were recovered archaeologically that clearly had initials scratched into the base, marking it as belonging to someone.  



Demonstrating the transformation of their self-view, self-identification being at the core of the definition of ethnicity.



The final presentation of the day was delivered by two speakers, Cristie Barry and Amanda Rasmussen both from McCormick Taylor.  They also discussed Germans, focusing on two German farmsteads in eastern Pennsylvania tracing their development through the 18th and 19th centuries.  Looking at the farm layout and the household artifacts as evidence of the frugal, self-sufficient nature of the German occupants.  They too found that without the historical documentation it would have been difficult to establish an ethnic link based just on the archaeological record.



At the conclusion of the presentations Jonathan Burns, Director of Juniata College’s Cultural Resource Institute, provided a closing summary to the day’s discussions.  Many of the paper’s resolved that without the accompanying historic documentation it can be difficult to establish ethnicity in the archaeological record.  The exception to this is finding a unique artifact or artifacts that are obvious ethnic calling cards.  While conducting excavations at Fort Shirley in Huntingdon county a medallion / charm was recovered inscribed in Arabic “No God but Allah”.  



A clear marker of Muslim ethnicity, but an extremely rare find. 


Along with the presentations Steve Nissly was in attendance demonstrating his Flintnapping skills.



Artifact were being identified by Doug McLearen and Kira Heinrich, both from the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO).  



Noël Strattan and Hannah Harvey, also from the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), explained the Cultural Resource Geographic Information System (CRGIS) and registered new sites.  In all it was another successful Workshops in Archaeology concluding of course with a reception in the Hall of Anthropology where participants and attendants could snack and chat less formally about the day.




Hopefully this glimpse of the Annual Workshops in Archaeology has been enough to entice you to join us in the future.  Next year’s date is yet to be announced but we will post it here as soon as it is scheduled so stay tuned!


For more information, visit PAarchaeology.state.pa.us or the Hall of Anthropology and Archaeology at The State Museum of Pennsylvania .

Friday, October 27, 2017

Lost Faces in Time

Anthropomorphic renditions in various media are well represented in the archaeological assemblages of the world, from Paleolithic times to the present. There is something about the appearance of the sculpted, modeled or carved human face on the collar of a pot, the bowl of a tobacco pipe or, perhaps, a pocket talisman, that conveys the phrase --- speak to me!
Figure 1. Pine Island “rock face”, Late Archaic period

Human face-like images have been recovered from archaeological contexts in Pennsylvania going back in time to the Late Archaic period. The “face rock” from Piney Island (Figure 1) may be 4000 years old as it was found between soil strata with radiocarbon dates of 3720 BP. and 4000 BP. (Kent 1996). In the Upper Delaware Valley, similar faces were apparently pecked onto the surfaces of small cobbles during the Late Woodland period. Stylized faces were also carved onto small pebbles and, the interior beam posts of the Oklahoma Delaware Big House or Xingwikaon. These carvings in bold relief may be Lenape renditions of the Mesingw or Masked Being. The Ohtas, or “Doll Beings” with remarkable powers (Figure 2), used in the Doll Dance by the Oklahoma Delaware were also carved from wood in precise detail (Kraft 2001).

Figure 2. Wooden Ohta doll, Delaware 19th century


The Munsee, who occupied a large part of the Delaware Valley from Port Jervis south to the Water Gap, decorated their cooking and storage pots with human-face-like features. Typically, three punch marks, made with a blunt stylus carved from wood or bone, formed the eyes and mouth and these were located at each rim castellation (Figure 3).
Figure 3. Munsee face pot, probably 17th century


Occasionally the potter chose to sculpt one face above the other. In the Lower Susquehanna Valley, these human face-like renditions became very common appliques to the collars of Susquehannock pottery by the first quarter of the 17th century (Figure 4). Susquehannock face pots were used for the storage and cooking of foods and as receptacles for burial offerings that held one last meal for the deceased.

Figure 4. Susquehannock face pot. Early 17th century

In both the Delaware and Susquehanna valleys, charm stones were made and carried by the Lenape and Susquehannock people. Principally made of soft stone such as steatite, serpentine, siltstone and by the middle of the 18th century, red pipestone (Figure 5), these effigies like the wooden Ohtas, were carved with great detail.

Figure 5. Pipestone maskette. Conestoga Indian site. Mid-18th century


Human face-like images adorned the bowls of tobacco pipes of the different Native American cultures. Certain clay pipes of the Wyoming Valley Complex (Smith 1973) are characterized by pronounced eye and mouth features indicative of some northern Iroquoian false face masks (Figure 6).
Figure 6. Wyoming Valley clay face pipe. Early 15 century

 Some of these mimic Onondaga and Mohawk pipe styles attributed to the Early Iroquois Chance phase  dates to approximately 1375-1425 A.D. Our Pennsylvania examples appear to be confined to the North Branch of the Susquehanna River from Nanticoke to the New York State line. Several pipe styles from southern Ontario suggest contact between the Wendat and Susquehannocks in the early to mid-17th century. Examples of the pinched face or plague pipe, a late 16th to early 17th century form, are rare in Susquehannock material culture but common in southern Ontario (Figure 7).

Figure 7. Pinch face clay pipe. Huron/Susquehannock Early 17th century

   These pipes which depict the gaunt forlorn image of a human are so-named for the illnesses brought by Europeans that ravaged North American native societies.
Figure 8. Face pipe of stone. Warren County, Pennsylvania. Age unknown

Moving our discussion westward we note the vasiform-shaped pipe of fine grained siltstone from a Seneca site in the Upper Allegheny valley. With a pronounced blowing or whistling mouth, boldly shaped brows and deep-set eyes, the image mimics the “Blower” category of false face masks used by the Iroquois or Haudenosaunee in their Mid-Winter ceremony (Figure 8). Another, stone face though much less expressionless, is from a site on the Sinnemahoning drainage in west-central Pennsylvania. Carved from fireclay, a soft indurated clay stone, the image has neither eyes nor mouth giving the object an expressionless appearance suggesting that it is an unfinished piece that was lost or discarded by its owner (Figure 9).

Figure 9. Stone maskette. Sinnemahoning Valley. Age unknown

Anthropomorphic images whether modeled or carved, onto pots, pipes or rocks take Native American material expression to its highest level that only the artisans who made these objects might truly understand their meanings --- speak to me!  
  
Bibliography:

Harrington, Mark R.
1921      Religion and Ceremonies of the Lenape.Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation Indian Notes and Monographs 19.

Kent, Barry C.
1996      Piney Island and the Archaic of Southeastern Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Archaeologist 66(2); 1-42.

Kraft, Herbert C.
2001       The Lenape-Delaware Indian Heritage: 10,000 BC to AD 2000. Lenape Books.

Smith, Ira F.
1973       The Parker Site: A Manifestation of the Wyoming Valley Culture. Pennsylvania Archaeologist 43(3-4): 1-56.

Speck, Frank G.

1931       A Study of the Delaware Big House Ceremony. Publications of the Pennsylvania Historical Commission, Volume II, Harrisburg.


For more information, visit PAarchaeology.state.pa.us or the Hall of Anthropology and Archaeology at The State Museum of Pennsylvania .

Friday, October 13, 2017

Fort Hunter Wrap Up

Fort Hunter Day 2017

In the remaining two weeks of fieldwork at Fort Hunter since our last post, our crew continued to excavate in their respective areas to the east and west of the milk house behind the mansion. Never a day went by without the archaeologists answering questions from the curious and inquisitive visitors to the park. How do you know where to dig? What are you finding? Did you have to go to school for that?

In the vicinity of the smokehouse foundation, artifacts were few and far between, suggesting that undisturbed soils with the potential to contain historic, and more optimistically fort period artifacts, had been all but exhausted through previous years’ work in this area. Careful troweling of the remaining soil did yield a handful of glazed redware sherds, very small fragments of tin-glazed earthenware and scratch blue salt-glazed stoneware. With disassembly of the smokehouse foundation completed and samples of visually distinct stones set aside for thin sectioning and sourcing analysis, the excavation block east of the milk house has closed and is ready to be backfilled. 

East block closing shot

Notable discoveries in the excavation units to the west of the milk house were predominantly prehistoric in age and included native pottery sherds, a few Late Archaic projectile points and a wide scattering of fire cracked rock.

Late Archaic projectile points (the asymmetry of the top specimen suggest it may have functioned as a knife) 

Most of these artifacts were found in a thin band of soil roughly 2 feet below the ground that was once the original land surface, referred to as a buried A horizon, and the first several inches of soil directly underlying it, the subsoil, also called the B horizon.

West trench excavation of buried A horizon (photo credit: Don Giles)

A few fragments of the pottery recovered are sections of the rim of a vessel.  Often decorated with varying patterns of incised lines and/or geometric shapes rim sherds are typically the most diagnostic portion of pre-contact ceramics. Seen below, the cord-marked horizontal and oblique lines on this sherd are indicative of the Owasco ceramic tradition which dates to c. 1000 to 1300 AD (Ritchie 1965). The ultimate in 3D jigsaw puzzles, there may be enough fragments to reconstruct upwards of half of this early fired clay container.

close up of cord marked rim sherd

One unique find this season is what appears to be a medial fragment, or middle section, of the stem portion of a native ceramic smoking pipe. The fragment is also split lengthwise, providing an interesting cross-section of the bore hole through the stem. The clay pipe fragment also exhibits shell tempering which is a characteristic of ceramics from the Late Woodland Period.

interior view of pipe stem fragment 

Despite its underwhelming context of recovery (modern utility trench fill) this artifact retains some significance in that of the tens of thousands of artifacts collected over the course of 11 field seasons, this is the only one in the assemblage to represent prehistoric tobacco use. In whole form, the pipe may have looked similar to this example below from the Strickler site.

complete ceramic pipe from the Strickler site

What does any of that have to do with the French and Indian War one might ask. Admittedly, not much, with one important exception, that it does drive home the point that this area was a strategic position on the landscape for not just hundreds, but thousands of years. There were, however, a few artifacts recovered this season that do seem to hint at echoes from the fort period.

 musket balls

gun flint

 late 18th and 19th C. brass and pewter buttons 

 tin glaze earthenware (left), and scratch blue salt glazed stoneware (right) 

These types of artifacts are intriguing, as they bare the signature of the fort period, and of the time before and shortly after, but unfortunately, due in part to the high level or earth moving activities in this particular section of the property, none were found in discrete contexts free from 19th and 20th Century material.

Susquehanna River looking upstream towards the Dauphin Narrows

It’s been said before, and it’s worth repeating, our volunteers are awesome! They are pleasant to be around, helpful with any number of tasks, and sometimes bring food to share. The amount of work accomplished this season simply would not have happened were it not for our dedicated volunteers.  A tip of the hat also goes to Dauphin County Parks and Recreation for their continuing cooperation and support. THANK YOU, to all who contributed in our efforts to uncover the past!

And a final reminder the Workshops in Archaeology program is just a short two weeks away:


The Archaeology Section of The State Museum of Pennsylvania invites you to attend the annual Workshops in Archaeology on Saturday, October28, 2017.  This program is designed to provide the public with an overview of archaeological discoveries and research being conducted in the region.  Papers presented at these sessions will focus on Ethnicity in the Archaeological Record as it can be identified at farmsteads, industrial sites, religious sites and other locations in Pennsylvania.  By recognizing cultural markers of preceding populations in Pennsylvania, archaeologists are better equipped to under-stand the fluid cultural landscape of our country.

References:

Ritchie, William A.
(1965) The Archaeology of New York State
            The Natural History Press, Garden City, New York


For more information, visit PAarchaeology.state.pa.us or the Hall of Anthropology and Archaeology at The State Museum of Pennsylvania .

Friday, September 29, 2017

If Rocks Could Talk; Unraveling the History of Fort Hunter


It’s September and our followers know that means we are at Fort Hunter Mansion and Park continuing our investigation of this complex archaeological site.  Our mission remains the same, discover the remnants of the French & Indian War fort (1755-1762) but in the process, we have uncovered a lot more relating to the activities and occupations of those both before and after the war.


Our current excavation units are located to the rear of the mansion on either side of the milk house.  On the west side, closest to the corner of the yard and at the confluence of Fishing Creek and the Susquehanna River, archaeologists are uncovering historic and prehistoric activities.  The construction activities are modern (post-1900) water and sewer pipes that bisect the units through two distinct levels. This construction disturbed the soils, but a corner of our westernmost unit was spared.  Digging through the layers of soil and time, this unit has produced pre-historic pottery approximately 1100 years old, a fire-cracked rock feature (cooking hearth), and two Late Archaic points.   Once again, the landscape is reminding us that this was an important spot for peoples for thousands of years and continues to attract visitors to the park.  

modern waterline cutting through unit N75 W35

Recovery of  Koens-Crispin broadspear







A beautiful jasper broadspear


On the east side of the milk house, we continue to investigate a foundation identified as Archibald McAllister’s smokehouse  which still is not yielding many artifacts.  Documentation indicates that this was an octagonal, wooden structure approximately 16 feet in diameter. It also indicates that it was set a foot or more above the ground.  Our examination of the foundation has yielded little in the way of artifacts that would aid in dating the construction of this building, but it has provided insight into the construction methods employed.   The stone foundation that appeared “a foot or more above the ground” was actually set on a rubble stone foundation below ground at approximately the same depth.  This foundation of laid stone consists of sandstone and diabase rock of varying sizes with the largest (10-12”) boulder type at the base with medium and small stones fitted around this base layer.  Intermittent fill of soils mixed with small pebbles and wedge or cut rock complete the foundation.  This random rubble construction consists of stone that are not uniform in shape nor size but were arranged to distribute the weight of the building.  The bottom of the builders’ trench has proven to be consistently level, allowing for a solid foundation for the smokehouse structure.  
Feature 99, smokehouse foundation during removal


The description of McAllister’s octagonal smokehouse doesn’t provide a height dimension for the structure but Carl Lounsbury, architectural historian at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation states that a sharply pitched roof is essential for containing heat and smoke.  He goes on to state that the more intricate the roofing timbers, the more places to hang meat.  Meats were hung in a variety of ways with pegs, nails, hooks and chains.  Smokehouses from the 18th century don’t seem to follow a prescribed design as some are rectangular, square, round, and our octagonal shape at Fort Hunter.  Building materials vary from brick, stone and wood and there seems to be no set height- other than the need for a pitch sufficient for hanging the meats.  Preparation of meats for smoking requires salting which in turn affects the construction materials.  In wood, the cells of timber become infused with salt which weakens the wood cell structure and causes the surface of the wood to soften.  Brick smokehouses show signs of degradation on the bricks and mortar and the surfaces become friable from salt intrusions.  The smokehouse that was constructed without sufficient ventilation had humidity problems which led to molds and potentially harmful meats.  To repel insects- the cured meat was either coated with pepper or hickory ash.  


The following recipe for curing hams is dated December 6, 1841 from the files of John Newberry, Columbia, NC

To 12 hams of common size
take  8 lbs. brown shugar, 1 ½ lbs. christalised salt petre, 5 lbs. fine salt

Rub them with this and let them lie in a cask with the skins downward. Then make pickle with the strongest coarse salt that will bear an egg. Add about two or three quarts of lie refined by boiling and skimming. When cold, cover hams with it and keep them down with a stone and let them lie three or four weeks according to their size. Then hang then up in the smoke house and after 24 hours smoke them with good sound hickory wood and repeat it every morning till that are sufficiently smoked. If dipped in ashes when first taken from the pickle it is useful in preserving them from the fly.


Colonial Williamsburg smokes meats as part of their programming and indicates that smoking usually lasts about two weeks but that hams, shoulders and bacons age inside a smokehouse for at least two years and may be exposed to multiple rounds of smoke curing.  This agrees with the references cited for the McAllister smokehouse that the meats were hung there year- round. It is curious as to why such a large smokehouse was used at the McAllister farm when most of the family were gone by the time of the 1828 visit.  Was this meat consumed at the tavern or sold in the nearby communities?  Research we will pursue this winter after our field season ends. 


The location of an external stove referenced in the documentation is a source for research as well since there is no indicator as to its size, shape or location only that smoke is “conveyed through a tube from the outside”.  The stones to the north of our circular foundation have been removed and we found little evidence of burning or heated surfaces.  Unfortunately, the artifacts were unable to provide a date of placement for these rocks and excavation didn’t reveal their purpose.  Additional soil tests planned for later this year may aid in identifying the method and heat source for the interior of the smokehouse. 
Rocks to the north of smokehouse foundation

The media coverage this season has been great with Fox 43 , and ABC 27 both featuring Kurt Carr, Senior Curator of Archaeology and our crew leader. PennLive interviewed Kurt and posted some great excavation shots.  This media coverage has brought lots of folks to the site and we’ve enjoyed meeting everyone and sharing the significance of archaeology and our rich local heritage.  The school groups who have helped us to excavate and screen dirt and all of the volunteers are amazing.  We only have one more week, excavations close on October 5th and we will be cleaning up and closing the site on the sixth.  

We hope you can join us at Fort Hunter as part of our Archaeology Month in Pennsylvania activities, but if you aren’t able to visit us here- perhaps you can check out other programs offered by the Pennsylvania archaeological community.  On October 28th be sure to join us for the annual Workshops in Archaeology program. This year’s theme is Ethnicity in the Archaeological Record and once again we have a terrific group of presenters scheduled for the day.   

References
Smokehouses, Foursquare and Stolid, These Buildings Were a Hardworking Adornment to the Colonial Backyard, Michael Olmert. CW Journal: Winter 2004-05. 

The Cultivator: A Monthly Publication, devoted to Agriculture- each No. 16 pages. Albany, June 1835.




For more information, visit PAarchaeology.state.pa.us or the Hall of Anthropology and Archaeology at The State Museum of Pennsylvania.

Friday, September 15, 2017

A 2fer: Triangles and Archaeology



The Triangular Shaped Projectile Points
and
The First Week of Archaeology at Fort Hunter

The main topic for this week’s blog is a very common artifact in Pennsylvania, the triangular projectile point. It is especially oriented to the projectile point nerds in our audience - those readers who are fascinated with the shapes of projectile points and how they are grouped into types. To our readers who are interested in artifacts – their age, function and how they were made – this blog is for you.

Triangular projectile points or arrow heads are associated with the Late Woodland period - dating from 900 AD to 1550 AD. Archaeologists have long recognized that there seems to be two different shapes or types of triangles in the Northeast. The slightly larger form was named the Levanna type by William Ritchie (1961). This type is approximately as wide as it is long, like an equilateral triangle, and usually with a concave base. According to Ritchie (1961) they average 3.1 cm to 4.5 cm in length; they are usually well flaked and date between 900 AD and 1350 AD. It is assumed they were used as arrow points. In Pennsylvania, this type is associated with Clemson Island and Owasco pottery types. 
Levanna Points
 
The second type, first described by Scully (1951), is the Madison type. It averages 2.5 cm long and is more commonly isosceles in shape or longer than wide. Although the two types clearly overlap in time, Madison triangles are generally thought to date after the Levanna type from 1300 AD to 1600 AD. In the Ohio Valley of Pennsylvania, these are sometimes referred to as Mississippian or Fort Ancient points and they are associate with the Monongahela culture. A sample of 50 Shenks Ferry triangular points from the Quarry site in Lancaster County (36La1100) dating to approximately 1500 AD, averaged 2.1 cm in length. Interestingly, a study conducted by Graybill et al. found that there was a reduction in the width of these points between early Shenks Ferry and late Shenks Ferry.

Madisson Triangles from the Quarry site
   Although some archaeologists have argued that not all triangles could be pigeonholed into the Levanna or Madison type, it was believed that all triangular projectile points dated to the Late Woodland period and functioned as arrow points. However, in New England and New York, other types of triangular projectile point types have been found in Archaic contexts. The Beekman triangle is described by Ritchie (1971) as being associated with Late Archaic, Vosburg points in New York State dating to 4700 BP. He described these as equilateral in shape with excurvate or straight edges, and with moderate grinding of the base. On Martha’s Vineyard, Ritchie (1971) identified Squibnocket triangles in Late Archaic contexts, dating to 4200 BP. These were shaped like equilateral or isosceles triangles but with no grinding on the base. Hunterbrook triangles (Wingerson and Wingerson 1976) were defined based on the Hunter Brook Rockshelter along the Hudson River as equilateral in shape with excurvate edges and a ground and thinned base. However, Archaic triangles were rare and limited to New York and New England. For some archaeologists, there was a lingering question as to whether these were really Archaic in age or were they Late Woodland points that had washed into Archaic strata.
    Beginning in the 1990’s, the chronological interpretation of these points began to change with the excavation of a large number of triangles from stratified Archaic sites at the Abbott Farm Complex along the Delaware River in New Jersey. This was unequivocal evidence that triangular points were being made and used during the Archaic period.  The radiocarbon dates from the Area D site (28Me1-D) at Abbott Farm extended the age of these points back to 6500 BP. Since that time, a number of other sites in Pennsylvania, such as Memorial Park (36Cn164), West Water Street (36Cn175), East Bank (36Nb16), Mifflinville (36Co17), Raker (36Nb58), P-11(36Pe60) and the Wallis site (36Pe16) have produced dates on Beekman or Hunterbrook triangles ranging from 6500 BP to 3600 BP.

Archaic Triangles from the Abbott Farm Complex (Custer 2001)
 
   There has been an effort to physically distinguish Archaic triangles from later Woodland triangles at the Abbott Farm Complex. Stewart (1998) states that a “healthy percentage” of Archaic triangles can be distinguished from Late Woodland triangles by “1) a patterned approach to the pressure flaking of bases, and 2) the asymmetrical aspect of the basal edge angle.” In addition, they exhibit “finer workmanship, symmetry and thinness than later types” (Wall et al. 1996: 10). Katz (2000) on the other hand, presents data that suggest that Archaic through Early Woodland triangles are difficult to distinguish from Late Woodland triangles.
   There is one final lingering question. How were Archaic triangles used? Archaic triangles are indistinguishable from Late Woodland triangles so, logically, we might conclude that they also functioned as arrow points.
 
     Triangular points such as the Madison and Levanna types are practically synonymous with the Late Woodland period, the introduction of the bow and arrow, well-made pottery, the introduction of farming; and village life. The received wisdom is that Indian populations were increasing; they began growing corn to feed the additional people; the bow and arrow was a more efficient for hunting compared to the atlatl; and it was also a more effective weapon in warfare. However, it is now clear that this scenario is rather simplistic and the appearance of the bow and arrow occurred much earlier.


Opening Excavations for the 2017 Season at Fort Hunter
The excavations at the Fort Hunter site (36Da159) were opened on September 7th, delayed one day by rain. The main areas for this year’s work are the smokehouse and the western trench. The backfill was removed from the western trench and the walls were cut and the floor troweled in the smokehouse block. The western trench is situated directly north of the mansion. It was first opened in 2008 and subsequently expanded in 2016. It is an area that contains multiple layers of late 18th, early 19th century occupations over a series of prehistoric occupations. The area probably relates to either the fort period (1756-1763) or the early to middle McAllister period (1787-1830).
West block
 

In the smokehouse block, several suspected features from last year were more easily defined. These will be further investigated to better define the smokehouse structure and to determine if this was also the site of an earlier smokehouse. Towards the end of this season, the smokehouse foundation will be removed to recover artifacts that may more exactly determine the date of this structure.
Smokehouse block
We had a very interesting interview with Marcus Schneck of Pennlive that will be aired the week of September 18th.
Marcus Schneck Interview
 
This is going to be an exciting excavation season, so please join us. The site is open to the public from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm weekdays, weather permitting. Friday the 15th  (TONIGHT), we are celebrating 3rd in the Burg so the site will be opened until 6:00 pm.  This coming Sunday, September 17th is Fort Hunter Day and we will be open for public visitation and will be excavating from 10:00 am until 5:00 pm.
 
We hope to see you there!
 
References
Custer, Jay F.
2001    Classification Guide for Arrowheads and Spearpoints of Eastern Pennsylvania and the Central Middle Atlantic, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg.
 
Graybill, Jeffrey R., James T. Herbstritt, Andrea J. Carr and Melanie R.Wing
2014    Shenks Ferry Triangles, Seriation and Dating. Pennsylvania Archaeologist 84(2): 36-41.
 
Katz, Gregory
2000    Archaic Period Triangular Projectile Points in the Middle Atlantic Region. Paper  
            presented at the 65th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology,
            Philadelphia.
 
Ritchie, William A
1961    A Typology and Nomenclature for New York Projectile Points. New York State Museum
            Science Service, Bulletin No. 384, Albany.
 
1971    A Typology and Nomenclature for New York Projectile Points. New York State Museum and Science Service Bulletin No. 384. Albany, New York.
 
Scully, Edward
1951    Some Central Mississippi Valley Projectile Point Types. Museum of Anthropology, University of Michigan
 
Stewart, R. Michael
1998    Archaic Triangles at the Abbott Farm National Landmark: Typological Implications
            For Prehistoric Studies in the Middle Atlantic Region. Paper accompanying an
            exhibit of Archaic-Age Bifaces at the Annual Meeting of the Middle Atlantic
            Archaeological Conference, Cape May, New Jersey. Sponsored by the Archaeological
            Society of New Jersey and the New Jersey Department of Transportation.
 
Wall, Robert D., R. Michael Stewart, and John Cavallo
1996    The Lithic Technology of the Trenton Complex. Trenton Complex Archaeology: Report 13. Prepared for the Federal Highway Administration and the New Jersey Department of Transportation by the Cultural Resource Group, Louis Berger & Associates, Inc., East Orange, New Jersey.
 
Wingerson, Roberta and Richard Wingerson
1976    The Hunter Brook Rockshelter.  Bulletin of the New York State Archaeological Association 68:19-28. 
 

 
 

For more information, visit PAarchaeology.state.pa.us or the Hall of Anthropology and Archaeology at The State Museum of Pennsylvania .