|Nearby creeks, such as the Yellow Breeches provide an escape from the rigors of the “new normal” and a chance to imagine the resources that attracted people to this area. (image: Melanie Mayhew)|
Sunday, October 18, 2020
Sunday, October 4, 2020
The fall season brings to mind The State Museum of Pennsylvania’s excavations over the years at Fort Hunter Mansion & Park, a Dauphin County historic property on the Susquehanna River north of Harrisburg.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with our work at Fort Hunter, The State Museum’s Section of Archaeology’s annual excavations during the month of September and part of October have focused on areas around the current Fort Hunter mansion in hopes of finding structural evidence of the French and Indian War period fort. In these years, we uncovered archaeological evidence that shows the Fort Hunter site was in use by humans for thousands of years, beginning as a seasonal hunting and fishing site for Native Americans. This site has also been used as a family home and from which its name is derived and as a supply fort during the French and Indian War.
To begin our Fort Hunter “flashback” we will look at a few of the artifacts dating back to the prehistoric period. These artifacts include a Palmer corner-notched projectile point made in chert, which dates between 9800 and 9200 years ago; a metarhyolite broadspear, which dates between 3200 BP and 4850 BP; and a jasper Jack’s Reef corner-notched point, which dates between 1500 BP and 950 Bp.
Note: While teleworking from home over the past six months, the staff of the Section of Archaeology has been working hard to move our various artifact catalogue lists to Argus, a collections management program for all of the artifacts in the museum’s collections and it includes photographs. In addition, as part of Argus, we are sharing artifacts, including those from Fort Hunter and they are available to the public via the internet accessible Argus platform.
Let’s take a look at some interesting examples of prehistoric period artifacts we’ve excavated at Fort Hunter since 2006:
Palmer Projectile Point made in chert
Jasper Jack’s Reef Projectile Point
Next, we will look at a few artifacts that date to the fort period.
One of these fort period artifacts is this three-inch iron cannonball, which was likely stored at Fort Hunter with the other supplies that were sent up the Susquehanna River to Fort Augusta at Northumberland, the major fort in the line of defense along the Susquehanna River.
Another fort period artifact is this brass star button, which may have belonged to one of the militiamen serving at Fort Hunter, although most of them did not have issued uniforms. The military didn’t designate regimental buttons until the Revolutionary War so there is no definitive way of determining if the button is a military issue. The button may have also belonged to a member of one of the families that owned the mansion after the war.
Brass Star Button
Additional possible fort period artifacts include gunflints. There are both English and French gunflints, which were held onto the gun by the “jaws” and when the trigger was pulled, the hammer came down causing a spark which ignited the gunpowder.
There have also been other, more decorative, gun parts found at Fort Hunter including the following brass thumb and side plates.
Brass gun decorative sideplate
Brass gun decorative thumb plate
Other interesting artifacts that have been found at Fort Hunter include a number of crucible fragments including the one below. These crucible fragments are most likely remnants from a blacksmith/gunsmith shop that was present on the property, used in the hot furnaces to melt down metals for gun repairs.
We have also found many personal items at Fort Hunter, which include these green glass cuff links set in pewter, this brass stock buckle and several kaolin smoking pipe fragments.
Green glass cufflinks
|Brass Buckle |
|Kaolin pipe fragments|
We hope you have enjoyed looking back at some of the interesting artifacts we have found at Fort Hunter through the years. For additional information on the Fort Hunter artifacts and other collection’s, please visit the State Museum’s Argus website:
We continue to do what we can to help preserve the past for our future during these tough times. We hope you explore all of the different sections of The State Museum and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission through Argus to learn more about what makes Pennsylvania what it is today.
Saturday, September 12, 2020
2020 Archaeology Month Poster. PDF available for download!
Online References for Further Reading
Official Site of the Delaware Tribe of Indians / About The Tribe, 2020.
Official site of the Delaware Nation/https://www.delawarenation-nsn.gov/
Pennsylvania Archaeology / Contact Period. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Archived September 10, 2015.
This Week in Pennsylvania Archaeology / Delaware County. The State Museum of Pennsylvania, Section of Archaeology, July 27, 2012.
Wikipedia / Lenape / Delaware Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma/ Delaware Nation of Oklahoma/ Stockbridge-Munsee Community of Wisconsin, / Munsee-Delaware Nation of Ontario / Moraviantown of the Thames First Nation of Ontario / Delaware of the Six Nations, Ontario. 2020.
Wednesday, September 2, 2020
Charles L. Lucy was a talented amateur or avocational archaeologist interested in all aspects of archaeology, but he also conducted research and published his findings. Charles L. Lucy was a toolmaker Ingersoll-Rand in Athens, Pennsylvania, but also a talented avocational archaeologist for more than 60 years. He was born February 22, 1922 and died on June 29, 2003, at the age of 81. Charles, or Chuck as he was known to many, was mentored under Dr. Elise Murray of the Tioga Point Museum in Athens, PA (read more about Dr. Murray in our blog from January 2020 by clicking the link). He was a member of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and a regional representative of the Section of Archaeology, a member of the Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology, an editor for Eastern States Archaeological Federation, a member of the New York State Archaeology Association, and a member of the Tioga Point Museum. One of his most notable traits is that he was not only extremely interested in archaeology, but he also published his findings (see list of publications below), especially in the journal Pennsylvania Archaeologist, where you can read many of his articles.
|Charles Lucy excavating at the Kennedy Site with the Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology in 1983|
1950 Notes on a Small Andaste Burial Site and Andaste Archaeology. Pennsylvania
1959 Pottery Types of the Upper Susquehanna. Pennsylvania Archaeologist 29(1):28-37.
1971 Pottery Types of the Upper Susquehanna. In Foundations of Pennsylvania Prehistory,
edited by Barry C. Kent, Ira F. Smith, and Catherine McCann, pp. 381-392.
Anthropological Series, No. 1, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission,
1991a The Owasco Culture: An Update. Journal of Middle Atlantic Archaeology 7:147-168.
1991b The Tioga Point Farm Sites 36BR3 and 36BR52:1983 Excavations. Pennsylvania
Lucy, Charles L., and Catherine McCann
1983 The Wells Site, Asylum Township, Bradford County, Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania
Lucy, Charles L. & Richard J. McCracken
1985 Blackman Site (36BR83): A Proto-Susquehannock Village. Pennsylvania Archaeologist
Lucy, Charles L. and Leroy Vanderpoel
1979 The Tioga Point Farm Site. Pennsylvania Archaeologist 49(1-2):1-12
Sunday, August 16, 2020
During these recent pandemic months of living, working, and finding entertainment in our homes it is hard to imagine a time before the internet, television, and cell phones existed. Have you ever wondered what people from other eras did in their free time? Unlike us, peoples from other centuries had very little free time unless they were among the wealthy of society.
The Fort Hunter site (36Da159) in Harrisburg, Dauphin County, is one of the few places where we can get a more complete look into the types of entertainment enjoyed by people of another time. We can see this through a combination of historic documents and photographs and the objects we have recovered from the archaeological excavations at the property.
Fort Hunter Mansion
Many photographs show the Reilys enjoying time with their friends around the property, including several of them playing badminton in the side yard of the house. Some of you may recognize this area as the location that the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, the State Museum, has been exploring through archaeology for the past decade.
John and Helen Reily and guests (circa 1890s) playing badminton in the side yard of the house
During the Victorian (1837-1901) and Edwardian (1901-1910/1914) periods, games that could be played in the yard were popular. Badminton (or shuttlecock), lawn bowling, croquet, tennis, and other games were played by both men and women. An afternoon could easily be spent engaged in throwing horseshoes, many of which have been found in the yard. Meanwhile, children may have played with marbles, jacks, or dolls, or emulated their elders by playing many of the same yard games.
All of this exercise in the yard would have worked up the guests’ appetites. Many food and drink-related artifacts have been recovered from the yard area and the area around the outbuildings behind the mansion house. Dishes and utensils, drinking glasses, beer and ginger beer bottles, and food remains including large amounts of oyster and clam shell suggest the possibility of a party or picnic on a nice summer day.
Beer bottles, dishes and utensils, drinking glasses, and remains of food have been found in the yard area
Clay pigeon pieces and brass shell casing
We also know that the Reilys had a cabin on their property north of the main farm in the area now covered by the Harrisburg Country Club. Accounts indicate that they spent time there, likely hunting in the woods and fishing from the creek.
The Reilys also enjoyed taking care of their farm animals and their beloved house pets, of which they had many over the years. During their time at Fort Hunter, Helen and John had numerous dogs of all shapes and sizes, a parrot, and a macaque (an Old-World monkey), as well as a very large hog, dairy cows, poultry, and prize horses. Not only do we have the photographs that show these animals but we also have proof from the ground itself. Excavations near the house have produced several Dauphin County dog tags and the skeletons of two dogs were recovered behind some of the outbuildings in the yard.
1920s Dauphin County dog tag recovered from excavations at Fort Hunter
A gathering at Fort Hunter with one of the Reily’s pet dogs
Many other pictures and descriptions of the Reilys with their animals show the amount of time they spent taking care of them and enjoying their company. Horses were especially important to both Helen and John, as Helen became an accomplished rider as a young girl and John showed off his driving skills in an expensive carriage with a matched team. As noted above, horseshoes have been found in the yard around the house.
Hopefully this blog illustrates the importance of matching historic archaeological finds with research. Although what comes out of the ground is important in itself, sometimes finding that photograph or first-hand account can give you a bigger picture of the site and assist in the understanding of the events that took place there. A unique connection to the past and the individual who left the tangible evidence of their activities is felt when you locate a photograph showing an object that you have pulled from the ground.
Learn more about the Reilys and their time at Fort Hunter or take a tour of the mansion house. Inside the mansion you will find a great assortment of furniture, clothing, children’s toys, and other vestiges of their lives at Fort Hunter. As well, their archives contain hundreds of photographs, documents, and artifacts that document the lives of generations of people who lived and worked at Fort Hunter. To learn more about our excavations and findings at Fort Hunter, search this blog. S
Please continue to follow us through these weeks as we continue to work from home and stay safe! Remember to visit our on-line collections to view some of the artifacts recovered from Fort Hunter and learn more about their connection to the occupants of this site.
Thursday, August 6, 2020
This Week in Pennsylvania Archaeology comes to you from archaeologist Robert Bodnar with help from geologist Robert C. Smith II and archaeologist Hettie L. Ballweber. Mr. Bodnar and colleagues have been investigating metarhyolite quarries in the South Mountain area of Adams and Franklin Counties of south-central Pennsylvania for many years. The following is a preliminary report on their recent work at one quarry location.
By way of background, metarhyolite (commonly listed as rhyolite in the older literature) is a metamorphosed volcanic rock found in different colors, most commonly dark blue or banded but this quarry is located in the less common, purple variety. The material flakes well and is good for stone tool manufacture. Native Americans began using it at least 10,000 years ago and beginning 4000 years ago, it was intensively used and traded in the Susquehanna, Delaware and Chesapeake Bay drainages. The research presented below is the initial step in understanding how groups of Native Americans used these quarries and how this material was distributed throughout the Middle Atlantic region.
Mr. Bodnar can be contacted at email@example.com with any questions you might have. We hope you enjoy this presentation.
Seeing Purple: Archaeological Investigations of a Prehistoric Metarhyolite Quarry on South Mountain in Adams County, Pennsylvania.
On June 16, 1994 an article was published in the Gettysburg Times titled: County’s First Industry: Rhyolite Richness. It was written by the late Dr. Louis S. Morgan of Wichita, Kansas. Morgan grew up on a farm in Adams County, Pennsylvania and attended high school in Gettysburg. It was during his childhood that he was expected to follow behind his family’s horse-drawn plow. During this arduous task, he had fun collecting the prehistoric artifacts (he notes sometimes made from purple rhyolite - aka metarhyolite) that the plow would turn up.
The metarhyolite stone artifacts (spear points, etc.) that Dr. Morgan happily collected were the finished products of an industrial process that began at one of the prehistoric metarhyolite quarries that dot the landscape on South Mountain in Adams and Franklin Counties in Pennsylvania.
Based on the analysis thus far, it is postulated that a Middle Woodland, Selby Bay phase (dating 1800 to 1100 years ago), single component quarry site was discovered. Thomas Mayr (1972) first defined the Selby Bay phase characterized by Selby Bay points. Henry Wright (1973) recorded some variants of the Selby Bay point (stemmed, lanceolate, and side-notched) among other things. With respect to the quarry under investigation, Curry and Kavanagh (1991) as well as Mayr (1972) note that one of the most common Selby Bay traits is their almost exclusive use of metarhyolite for their flaking material. The Selby Bay quarrymen traveled from the coastal plain areas to the distant Catoctin and South Mountains for their desired metarhyolite, although some trading cannot be ruled out. A radiocarbon date of A.D. 410 +/- 30 was obtained from Trench 1 in 2019. The dated charcoal sample was removed from a burning event located near the bedrock at 93 centimetres in depth. This date fits well within the Selby Bay Cultural Complex A.D. 300 – 700 (Wright 1973) and A.D. 200 – 900 (Inashima 2008). In addition to the radiocarbon date, five Selby Bay related artifacts have been recovered from the two trenches.
Based on the evidence gathered thus far, the Selby Bay quarrymen were likely following an industrial quarry site procedure consisting of: material extraction, reduction and removal of low grade material, and rough-out/preform production (Sullivan and Rozen 1985). Some limited final tool production also took place. The target “ore” here seems to be an aphanitic phase of the circa 564 million year old Catoctin Metarhyolite (Aleinikoff et al., 1995). This formation began as a near surface volcanic flow that was later metamorphosed forming metarhyolite. The matrix appears to be a dusky purple and the interstitial igneous flow breccia with various, more reddish hues (personal communication Smith II, 2020). In Trench 1 the target ore was dusky purple in the form of buried float slabs near the bedrock interface. In Trench 2 the target ore seems to be a dusky purple with more reddish hues occurring as float.
Heavily worked float boulder protruding from the northern wall of Trench 2. The photo scale is one meter.
When interpreting the extraction process that took place, research from Hatch (1993) lends some guidance. His quarry development model proposes three stages of extraction which seem to fit, with modification, the evidence that is being uncovered at the current quarry site.
Stage one involves the quarrymen detaching a suitable piece of material from an exposed bedrock source or simply selecting useable surface material. Cresson (2015 personal communication) states that the quarrying of exposed surface material is common during the Middle Woodland period (2100 to 1100 years ago). To aid in the detachment process, large hand held hammerstones were most likely employed. Hammerstones are the principle quarry tool being found at the site. Ritchie (1929) states that “the hammer is the tool of tools. No single implement was more indispensable to primitive man”. The quarry site hammerstones were made predominantly from diabase, but metarhyolite, quartz, metabasalt, and quartzite were also observed in decreasing amounts. Most of the hammerstones are broken and many are very fragmented. Two types of diabase hammerstones were used. The most common type was medium-grained York Haven Diabase, and the second type was a fine-grained Rossville Diabase (personal communication Smith II, 2020). Interestingly, the nearest diabase source is many miles distant and some of the fragments weigh up to 19 pounds. Tremendous effort was put forth by the quarrymen just to get the diabase hammerstones to the site.
|Diabase hammerstones: 19 pound medium-grained quarry boulder left, smaller Rossville Diabase pictured|
Stage two of Hatch’s quarry development model would involve the quarrymen digging around a near surface exposure in order to get at the targeted ore. Two hoe-like metarhyolite digging tools were recovered from the quarry excavation which would help with this task. Hatch states that stage two can be a progression into stage three. That would depend on the surface exposure’s size, and whether targeted ore was encountered as bedrock.
Finally, stage three, as Hatch describes, would be a progression to larger, deeper, and more labor-intensive quarry pits.
Initial data from Trench 2 indicates that the quarrymen began digging at an exposure (stage two) and then followed the targeted ore vertically and horizontally. As the quarry workers exposed, extracted, and reduced the targeted ore, they discarded their waste behind them leaving a larger deeper pit (stage three) filled with the debris of their labor.
Two different reduction technologies (tool making strategies) were likely being employed at the site: discoidal core reduction (Terradas 2003) and staged bifacial reduction (Callahan 1979). During the Selby Bay Middle Woodland Period both technologies were used (Stewart 1992 and Cresson n.d.). Evidence of discoidal core reduction at the site included numerous discoidal cores, trihedral platform flakes, and flake preforms.
Basically, this reduction method is straight forward: hit then flip, hit then flip in a circular fashion. When the core is flipped, the flake scar on the reverse side becomes the next striking platform (Clarchaeology 2013).
Example of flake preform (personal communication Nissly, 2020).
Exhausted discoidal cores were numerous at the site. Sizes varied from large 11+” in diameter to smaller 2.5” in diameter.
Evidence of the staged bifacial reduction technology from the site.
Dr. Morgan ended his article in the Gettysburg Times with a hope that his donation of thousands of artifacts (some purple) might someday be beneficial to a person wanting to learn more about the great rhyolite industry that drew a distant people, like the Selby Bay, to a place now called Adams County, Pennsylvania.
Aleinikoff, J.N., Zartman, R.E., Walter, M, Rankin, D.W., Lyttle, P.T., and W.C. Burton
1995 U-Pb ages of metarhyolites of the Catoctin and Mount Rogers Formations, central and southern Appalachians: Evidence for two pulses of Lapetan Rifting, American Journal of Science, v. 295, p. 428-454.
1979 The Basics of Biface Knapping in the Eastern Fluted Point Tradition: A Manual for Flintknappers and Lithic Analysts. Archaeology of Eastern North America 7(1):1-180.
2013 August, 24 Discoidal Core Reduction (with commentary) by Dr. Chris Clarkson.
Crabtree, Don, and John D. Speth
1985 Experiments in Flintworking Vol. II. Special Publication # 10. Experiments in Replicating Hohokam Points. Vol. 16: 1 (1974) Reprinted From Tebiwa.
N.D. Fox Creek Reduction Strategies. Ms. available through the author, Moorestown, New Jersey.
Curry, Dennis C., and Maureen Kavanagh
1991 The Middle to Late Woodland Transition in Maryland. North American Archaeologist 12(1): 3-28.
Hatch, James W.
1993 Research into the Prehistoric Jasper Quarries of Bucks, Lehigh and Berks Counties, Pennsylvania, Report submitted to the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, PA.
Inashima, Paul Y.
2008 Establishing a Radiocarbon Data Based Framework for Northeastern Virginia Archaeology. Quarterly Bulletin of the Archaeological Society of Virginia 63(4): 251
1972 Selby Bay in Retrospect. Maryland Archaeology 8(1):2-5.
2004 Lithic Analysis. New York: Springer.
1929 ‘Hammerstones, Anvils, and Certain Pitted Stones’. In L. H. Morgan Research and Transactions of the New York State Archaeological Association VII, 2.
Stewart, R. Michael
1992 Observations on the Middle Woodland Period of Virginia: A Middle Atlantic Region Perspective. In Middle and Late Woodland Research in Virginia: A Synthesis, edited by Theodore R. Reinhart and Mary Ellen N. Hodges, pp. 1-38. Archaeological Society of Virginia, Special Publication No. 29.
Sullivan, A. P., III and K. C. Rozen
1985 Debitage Analysis and Archaeological Interpretation. American Antiquity 50:755-779.
2003 Discoid flaking method: Conception and technological variability. In M. Peresani (ed.), Discoid Lithic Technology: Advances and Implications, pp. 19-31. BAR International Series 1120. Oxford: Archaeopress.
Wright, Henry T.
1973 An Archeological Sequence in the Middle Chesapeake Region, Maryland. Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Maryland Geological Survey, Archeological Studies No. 1.