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II. COLLECTION ANALYSIS: BACKGROUND CONTEXT

The sites present in the Kingston Public Library Local History Room collection can be characterized as representing collections made with a moderate degree of collector bias.  Lots of chipping debris is present, a large amount of faunal material and shellfish remains and an appreciable amount of pottery. There are also broken projectile points and biface fragments, so John Cram was not just looking for whole pieces.

 

It is believed that the collection from the Kingston Public Library Local History Room can be used to test the following hypothesis:

1) Certain lithic materials were preferred or more often used at certain periods than other materials

2) Comparison of the collections with those on file at the Massachusetts Historical Commission will help to determine if these collections fit in with the information provided by the site files or if they are at odds with it.

 

This report begins with a brief description of the prehistory of the Kingston area as it relates to New England prehistory including settlement trends, the common types of projectile points and artifacts recovered and the types of raw materials commonly used.  A description of each collection follows and then a tabulation and comparison of the Kingston collections with the MHC site files.

 A.        New England Pre-Contact Period

New England has a rich and extremely interesting Pre-Contact period. Archaeology has contributed a great deal to our understanding of the Native history of New England, without it our picture of the past would, unfortunately be only a sketch.  Unfortunately, archaeology can only give us only a bare bones look at the lives of the people who have lived in New England in the Pre-Contact  past.  We can never answer questions like what was a man thinking when he made a certain projectile point style, or what did a woman think about when she made a pot.  We can only theorize and guess at these sort of details.  But through archaeology, we have been able to learn when people first arrived in Southeastern Massachusetts and  how they made a living.


 Because archaeology relies on the material that is recovered from the soil, we are limited to how much we can ever really know about the most ancient people. So we must try to say something archaeologically meaningful from the scant bits of evidence that have survived.  Unfortunately, the farther back in time we travel, the more scarce our evidence becomes.  This is due to the fact that there were less people in the area in the past and some sites have been flooded by rising sea levels.  Bearing this in mind, the following is a sketch of what happened in the past, always being added to and never complete.

 

1.         Paleo Period  13,000-10,000 BP

Although there is new research being conducted all the time, the present theory is that the people who first settled in New England arrived in the New World during the end of the Wisconsin ice age, approximately 13,000 years ago.  Before this time, New England and much  of the northern half of the United States was covered by a mile and a half thick sheets of ice called glaciers. Ice ages are part of the Earth's natural warming and cooling cycle.  Approximately 60,000 years ago for some unknown reason, the temperature dropped on Earth just a few degrees, just enough to cause the glaciers and ice caps located at the north and south poles to begin removing water from the oceans and growing. By approximately 20,000 years ago the edges of the northern ice sheet had reached its maximum extent, present day Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket, and began to recede.  As the glaciers melted, they dropped millions of tons of sand, gravel and boulders that had accumulated during their journey southward.  All this material, the moraine and outwash soils,  became the sandy hills, the drumlins, eskers and kames,  and basically all the lower layers of soil that make up our landscape today. Mixed in with the moraine and outwash were glacial erratics, these are the large boulders, like Plymouth Rock, that dot our landscape today.

 


Following the retreat of the glaciers, the climate in southern New England was a southern tundra.  It was cold, windy and barren and covered with large areas of wetlands.  Scattered intermittently across the landscape were patches of grasses, shrubs such as sedge, alder and willow, and small stunted trees including spruce followed by birch and pine.   There was also a lot more landscape than there is today because the oceans were approximately 300-400' feet lower than they are today.  In New England, this meant that the coastline was up to 50 miles to the east of its present position.  This left exposed large portions of land, like George's Banks, that are today underwater.  The islands that we see today in many coastal harbors, were at this time hills on a barren landscape and many of the rivers that we know today were nothing more than springs or small streams.

 

Kingston is a coastal town located to the immediate north of Plymouth whose major drainage is the Jones River.  The Jones River was formed at the end of the last ice age, approximately 12,000 years before present, as a result of the draining of  Glacial Lake  Taunton.  Glacial Lake Taunton, at its height, covered a total area of 500 square miles and was centered in present day Taunton, Massachusetts with its shores extending almost as far east as Kingston, to Fall River in the south,  and as far north as Bridgewater (Skehan 2001:63). At the end of the ice age, the Cape Cod lobe of the glacier formed a dam at least as far south as the Jones River valley, effectively blocking the outflow (Skehan 2001: 64). Another dam blocked the southern edge at Fall River. The ice melt in the north occurred first, and opened the Jones River outlet.

 

The types of animals that were present at this time included some of the smaller species such as foxes and rabbits, but megafauna were also present. Megafauna is a term that describes the large breeds of animals that were present in New England after the last ice age.  These included the mammoth, which existed on the tundra, the mastodon, which lived in the early forests, the horse, which later became extinct and was reintroduced by the Spanish in the 1500s, bears like the large Kodiak variety, beavers up to 6' long, bison, elk, caribou and musk ox, which disappeared fairly early.

 


 In southeastern Massachusetts, sites that date to this period have been encountered in Plymouth on the Eel River and on the coast in Marshfield..  At these sites, the evidence of people living here after the last ice age has consisted predominantly of stone projectile points of a variety called the Paleo or fluted point. These points were generally made from exotic materials that were carried in by the inhabitants as they traveled from the west.  These materials predominantly very fine grained stones including cherts from New York and Maine and jaspers from Pennsylvania. Population densities have been estimated at approximately 5-12 people per 100 square kilometers. These people made their living by hunting and possibly scavenging the carcasses of the megafauna.  The also hunted smaller game such as rabbits and they may have fished on the coast.  The populations in New England at this time may have numbered no more than a few hundred.  These people lived in small groups and traveled seasonally.  They probably were not nomadic, but were following seasonally migrating herds.  Paleo sites are often located on hilltops overlooking plains or were high on the shores of glacial lakes.

 

By the end of the Paleo Period the environment in New England was stabilizing and life ways were becoming fairly distinct.  The megafauna were extinct by 10,000 years ago, probably due to a combination of hunting by the first settlers and climactic change.  the forests were beginning to change to more pine and nut bearing hardwoods which created new habitats for animals and new food sources for people.  While the Paleo Period can be seen as a time of initial colonization, the next period, the Early Archaic, can be viewed as a time of settling in and accommodation to life in New England.

 

No identifiable Paleo-Indian artifacts were identified in the Kingston Public Library Local History Room collection.

 

2.         Early Archaic 10,000-8,000 BP

The extinction of the megafauna and the changing climate led to a revamping of the Paleo-Native way of life around 10,000 years ago. The environment in the Early Archaic had warmed sightly and as a result, trees such as oaks, pitch pines, beeches and hazel began to flourish.  It was during this time that the major rivers that are around today began to form as well and into th3ese rivers anadromous fish species like salmon and herring began to run.  This would have provided another food source for the inhabitants of New England.  As New England began to become more forested, new mammalian species also would have moved into the area.  These species would have included black bear, deer and moose.

 


The Early Archaic is one of the little understood periods of New England prehistory.  Early Archaic sites tend to occur on a wide range of settings including hills sides with slopes over 15 degrees and hill tops.  Some sites are situated on the same locations as Paleo sites while others appear alone in the landscape.  Homes at this time have been theorized as being either of a longhouse shaped, as have been identified in Taunton, Massachusetts at the Titicut site, or as small pits dug into the sides of hills as have been identified in Connecticut and northern Massachusetts.  It is unknown if the two forms of houses occurred simultaneously, were seasonally determined or represent different building traditions by different populations.

 

Evidence of the Early Archaic peoples' process of "settling in" is evidenced in their use of local volcanic materials such as rhyolite and felsite for tools and projectile points and their possible use of quartz for quick, expendable tools. Hunting during this period may have taken the for of spear throwing with the use of the atl-atl, a weighted stick that was held in the hand onto which a long spears was placed and launched from. The atl-atl was basically an extension of the throwers arm and it effectively increased the distance, force and accuracy of the throw. 

 

Evidence for the Early Archaic has been recovered from Marshfield, Taunton and Carver, Massachusetts with an especially large concentration of sites in Taunton on the Taunton River.

 

No identifiable Early Archaic artifacts were identified in the Kingston Public Library Local History Room collection. One site with an Early Archaic component has been identified in Kingston.

 

3.         Middle Archaic 8,000-6,000 BP

While the Early Archaic was a time of transition from the paleoindian nomadic way of life to a more sedentary and permanent situation, the Middle Archaic can be seen as a time of more normality and permanency.  It still was a time of many changes though.  Oceans remained approximately 29 feet lower than they are today but the rate of rise had slowed enough for estuaries to begin forming.  the formation of estuaries led to the establishment and proliferation of shellfish beds.  Shellfish first settled in the warmer southern waters and eventually moved northward as the sea level rise slowed and waters warmed. 

 


By 7000 years ago, forests with the same basic composition as today began to be established.  The use of heavy stone woodworking tools such as axes, adzes and gouges increased during this period, possibly indicating the construction of log canoes or at least an increase in woodworking.  Evidence for hunting using atl-atls first appears at this time as well.  In fact, the oldest burial in New England, 7500 years ago, was located in Carver, Massachusetts and contained two atl-atl weights of the whale-tail variety.

 

Sites from this period are fairly common, indicating that people had begun to spread out over larger areas.  It also indicates that there may have been more people in Massachusetts than before.

 

The Middle Archaic was represented by 18 points from the Cram collection and one from the Allerton site collection. The Cram collection points consist of five Neville points, one Neville-variant and 12 Stark points. One Neville Variant is present in the Allerton Site assemblage. In the Town of Kingston, two Middle Archaic sites have been identified.

 

4.         Late Archaic 6,000-3000 BP

The Late Archaic represents the period with the most identified and recorded archaeological sites in Massachusetts.  This has been interpreted by many as indicating a very large number of people living in our area during this period, although archaeologists are not sure why this happened.  The case may also be made that this proliferation of stone tools and sites may be more related to a wider variety of stone tools being manufactures for specific purposes and a wide variety of habitats being exploited as opposed to a population boom.  The Late Archaic is also a time of greater diversification and specialization than was evident in the earlier periods.  The tool kits of the people living on the south coast and its coastal forests differed from that of the people in Maine and further north.  this in turn was similar but distinct from the inhabitants of the strictly boreal forests such as those in New York and inland Massachusetts.

 


Along coastal Massachusetts, the combination of stabilizing sea levels and estuary formation led to significant runs of anadromous fish by the Late Archaic.  As a way of taking maximum advantage of these fish runs, Native people began using weirs in the rivers, streams and bays.  In fact, one of the largest weirs found anywhere in the world was encountered in what was once Boston harbor.  The Boylston Street fish weir was encountered when the foundation for an office building in Boston.  It is believed that the weir was constructed approximately 5000 years ago and cover4d several acres.  Weirs of a smaller scale were undoubtedly employed in most of the bays, rivers and larger streams in southeastern Massachusetts.

 

Another significant development in the Late Archaic was the use of bowls carved out of soapstone (steatite).  The actual carving of the bowls was probably not a significant development in itself, but what these bowls represented is.  The raw material for the bowls, soapstone, is found only in certain deposits Rhode Island and Massachusetts.  As a result, the recovery of soapstone fragments on the east coast indicates either that these items were being traded for, of that people were traveling fairly significant distances to quarry this stone.  From the east coast, the quarries could have been reached in approximately 2-3 days.  The stone would then have to be quarried, worked into shape and carried back to the homesite.  these bowls are not small affairs by any means, some weigh up to 60 pounds.  It is believed that the effort expended to acquire these bowls as well as their weightiness must mean that they were fairly important to the people.  Before these bowls were used, food was probably either roasted or boiled in skin lined pits in the ground through the used of hot stones.  The soapstone bowls allowed for cooking directly on the fire, an change in cooking technology which eventually led to the use of pottery in southern New England.  These appear to have been used only in the Late Archaic and do not appear in more recent periods.  These bowls were also special enough to have often been buried with people after being ceremonially killed with a hole in the base.

 

As the Late Archaic is the best represented period in the Mattapoisett Historical Society collections, a more in depth discussion of it is presented here.  Beginning with the end of the Late Archaic and continuing through the Late Woodland period, sites tend to appear more frequently on the coast and the banks of rivers, and especially near river estuaries. The Woodland period is marked by basic technological and economic changes, notably the production and use of pottery and a gradual shift to food production (maize, beans, squash, sunflower and other vegetables). The Late Archaic to Early Woodland periods will be discussed in more detail under the section on research design.


Small Stemmed and Squibnocket Triangle points have often been considered to be temporally diagnostic of the Late Archaic period in New England prehistory.  The earliest dates for the presence of Small Stemmed points have been pushed back into the second or third millennium before present by work in the 1980s (PAL 1982 a, 1982b, 1983).  Small Stemmed points have been characterized by four varieties (Small Stemmed I-IV) which can be lumped together into two categories- squared to rectangular stems and rounded stems.  The first category includes Small Stemmed I and II.  These are characterized by narrow isosceles triangular blades, a steeply angled cross section with hard hammer percussion flaking, a short roughly rectangular to square stem that is wide in relation to the maximum blade width (1:1.5) and length to width ratios of 1.5:1 to 3:1 (MHC 1984: 86-91). These generally date from 6000-3000 B.P.  The second category includes Small Stemmed III and IV.  These are characterized by narrow isosceles triangular blades, a steeply angled cross section with hard hammer percussion flaking, a bluntly pointed to rounded base that may be thinned, ground or rubbed and length to width ratios of 2.5:1 to 4:1 (MHC 1984: 92-95).  These have been roughly dated from 5000-3000 years B.P.  The predominant raw material used to produce these points is locally available quartz gathered in cobble form from the coast, river edges and glacial drift.  The second most common material is argillite either originating in the Taunton River drainage or from glacial drift cobbles. A wider variety of materials was utilized to the north and west of the Boston Basin where rhyolite and argillites were the predominate local materials.

 

Some researchers see Small Stemmed points as a backwards extension of the Orient and Susquehanna Broad spear traditions into early 5th millennium  essentially making them an early intrusive element of this tradition (Hoffman 1985: 59; Ritchie 1969:214; Snow 1980:228).  Ritchie sees this as "unquestionably happening" as he believed this quartz pebble-based technology  move into New England from somewhere to the south, probably the Mid-Atlantic, along coastal plains and via large river valleys.  Snow states that this tradition may have been intrusive from the lower Susquehanna into southern and eastern New York, New Jersey and New England.  Dincauze feels that this may have happened but favors an indigenous development in southern New England that evolved out of the Neville/ Stark/ Merrimack sequence (Dincauze 1975, 1976). The later may be likely as the Small Stemmed of the points appear to generally resemble these antecedent forms.

 

The earliest dates for Small Stemmed Points are from the Bear Swamp 1 site (4600-4500 BP) located on the Taunton River estuary and the  Kirby Brook site (4400-4000 BP) located in middle Shepaug (Hoffman 1985:59).  Many sites in southeastern Massachusetts have a higher number of these points  than anywhere else in the state which has lead Dincauze to speculate that the Narragansett drainage basin was an important focus for this tradition (Dincauze 1975). These points remained very popular  and widespread in the Late Archaic, eventually declining in occurrence from 3800 BP forward.  The most recent most recent dates for them are  955 +/- 155 BP  from the Black Bear site (PAL 1982b) and 850 +/-205 BP from the G. B. Crane site Taunton (PAL 1983).  Current research indicates that these points continued in use after the Late Archaic and well into the Early Woodland and possibly Middle Woodland (Mahlstedt 1986:9; Moffet 1957; McBride 1983; PAL 1982a, 1982b, 1983 (American Antiquity Current Research 1981: 696).

 

Also occurring with Small Stemmed points are small cordiform triangular points generally called Small Triangles or more commonly  Squibnocket Triangles. Squibnocket Triangles have bases that are usually concave but occasionally strait with and equilateral to isosceles triangle blade.  Width ranges from 1.3-2.5 centimeters and length ranges from 2-4 centimeters with a length to width ration of 1:1 to 2.5:1 (MHC 1984: 98-99). The temporal range for these points is generally the same as the second category of Small Stemmed points, 5000-3000 years B.P. The most common  materials for these points is the same as for Small Stemmed, quartz and argillite with some quartzite and volcanics being used.

 

Other tools utilized by this culture were  rough and ground stone choppers, plummets, unpitted hammerstones, plano-convex adzes, shallow-groove adzes, polished splinter awls, barbed antler harpoon heads and graphite and hematite paint stones but apparently not many scrapers, drills or knives (Ritchie 1969:215). Pestles and weirs also appear in the tool kits for the first time. These tools indicate that the Small Stemmed (or Mast Forest tradition as Snow (1980) identified them) utilized a wide variety of resources. In fact, sites associated with the Small Stemmed Tradition occur in micro-environments that show great diversity in their hunting and gathering strategies.  Coastal shell middens, estuarine fish weirs, estuarine shore sites, and sites on lakes, ponds, springs, streams, brooks, river shores and quarries all show how wide their procurement strategies reached. Fishing was accomplished by hand with hooks, lines and stone plummets as well as weirs such as the Boylston Street Fish weir(s) which has been directly associated with the Small Stemmed Tradition (Dincauze 1974: 48). It has been found that the inhabitants of southern New England at this time utilized more of the lower links on the food chain at this time as well such as shellfish, seeds, nuts, and small game, all resources that were not used to the same extent by their predecessors (Dincauze 1974: 48).  This may have been a response to an increased population in the area at this time.  As a way of coping with a higher population, a wider variety of more marginal resources had to be exploited to feed the greater number of people.  This led to a well-balanced adaptation by a people who were very familiar with their surroundings.

 

Possibly, at this time, people were living in small open communities of only a few families on or near the sea coast  in the spring to fall, moving to more permanent lakeside communities which formed the core of their territorial identity in the fall and winter (Ritchie 1969:219; Dincauze 1974: 48.) They may have  had a river basin territoriality with a focus that thus would have constrained their communication and trade networks by being so watershed focused. This interpretation is similar to Snow's and Pagoulatos' who see the Small Stemmed traditions resource utilization system as a central based wandering one with winter camps in the back country or uplands and summer camps on the coast.  Sites in this sort of system would not be large but they would be  numerous and occurring in a wide variety of settings with a broad range of fish, mammals, birds, plants and mast producing trees being exploited (Snow 1980:230; Pagoulatos 1988).  Pagoulatos sees the Small Stemmed Tradition, called the Tinkam Phase in Connecticut, as having a resource systems like the Micmac that was essentially mobile.  He sees them as always moving to specific resource zones at specific times of year.  This results in a high number of residential camps and locations and few task camps.  Residential camps are found away from the Connecticut River in areas of high wetland potential such as the interior swamps, marshes and lakes (Pagoulatos 1988: 85). This interpretation appears somewhat different than that for southeastern Massachusetts where Small Stemmed populations appear to have exploited the coast and inlands. It is also interesting to note that it was at this time that shellfish were first exploited in much of the northeast.  Ritchie viewed the initial exploitation of quahog and oysters over soft shell clams in the Late Archaic as evidence of immigrants moving into an area, being unfamiliar with shellfishing and basically collecting what they could see, the oysters and quahogs, and not what lay below the mud, the clams (Snow 1980:229).

 

It appears that by 3700 B.P. the cultural system of the people who were using Small Stemmed points in southern New England had begun to change.  This period, from 3700-2700 B.P, has variously been called the Terminal or Transitional Archaic.  During this time there appears to have been an immigration into southern New England of people using tools of the Broad spear or Susquehanna tradition.  Projectile points of the Susquehanna style characterize the early part of this period while those of the Orient Fishtail style, a possible merging of indigenous Small Stemmed and Susquehanna styles, dominate the latter half (Snow 1980:237; Dincauze 1975: 27). The Orient point tradition appears to have remained in New England and eventually evolved into the Rossville and Lagoon points of the Early Woodland Period.

 

Points of the Susquehanna/ Broad spear  style include the Susquehanna Broad, Wayland Notched and Atlantic points.  Susquehanna Broad points are a corner notched point what has diamond-shaped blade and shoulders with obtuse shoulder angles and generally strait or concave bases with a basal width less than the maximum blade width.  The bases often show basal grinding or rubbing and the cross section is flat with soft hammer percussion flaking evident.  These points can range from 2.5 to 20 centimeters long, making them a generally large point with a length to width ration of 2:1 to 3:1 (MHC 1984:108-109).  These points were produced from 4000-3500 years B.P.  Unlike the Small Stemmed points, these are often made of exotic cherts and local volcanics with quartz, quartzite and argillite rarely used.  

 

Atlantic points are triangular bladed stemmed points  with strait-bottomed parallel-sided squared bases whose basal width is greater than or equal to 1.5 cm.  The shoulders are well defined and approach a 90-degree angle with the stem the junction of which is formed by indirect percussion with a punch. These points can range from 5 to 15 centimeters long, making them another large point with a length to width ration of 1.5:1 to 2:1 (MHC 1984:106-107).  These points were produced from 4100-3600 years B.P.  Local volcanics are common as raw materials with quartzites, argillites and cherts also used.  Quartz is a raw material for Atlantic points, again, like the Susquehanna Broad, showing a sharp break in technology from the Small Stemmed Tradition.

 

Wayland Notched points are a side-notched point that has a triangular shaped blade with a strait to slightly concave base that is often less than the maximum blade width.  The bases often show basal grinding or rubbing and the cross section is flat with soft hammer percussion flaking evident.  These points can range from 3.5 to 11 centimeters long, making them a medium-sized point with a length to width ration of 2:1 to 3:1 (MHC 1984:110-111).  These points were produced from 3600-3000 years B.P.  Local volcanics are common with chert and argillite also used.

 

Orient Fishtail points are a side-notched point with a narrow lanceolate blade shape reminiscent of Small Stemmed points (Figure 10).  The stem is expanding and the base is usually strait to concave and occasionally angled with a basal width less than or equal to the maximum blade width. The shoulders are rounded and often poorly defined with an obtuse shoulder angle.  In cross-section these points range from flat to steeply angled and evidence of soft to hard hammer percussion is present. These points range from 2.5 to 10 centimeters long  with a length to width ratio of 2.5:1 to 4:1 (MHC 1984: 112-113).  These points were produced from 3000-2000 years B.P.  Common raw materials include local volcanics quartz and quartzite.  The blade shape, poorly defined shoulders and raw material choice hints that these points are a blending of Susquehanna and Small Stemmed traditions.

 

The Susquehanna Tradition created a sharp change in the archaeological continuity of the Small Stemmed Tradition as far north as Maine (Dincauze 1975:27).  This is probably the result of an infiltration or migration of peoples from the southwest.  There appears to be a distinct difference in cultural and industrial traditions from the indigenous populations but no evidence of assimilation of populations.  Various researchers have attempted to determine if  there was a large migration of people associated with the Susquehanna Tradition or if it was merely a small influx with a new specialized tool, the Broad spear, that was adapted as an adaptation by local populations to exploit marine fish resources (Turnbaugh 1975: 57).

 

David Sanger  used six criteria to examine the Susquehanna Tradition and determine if it met these criteria for migration.  The criteria were 1) identify the migrating people as an intrusive unit in the region it has penetrated, 2) trace this unit back to a homeland, 3) determine that all occurrences of this unit are contemporaneous, 4) establish the existence of favorable conditions for migration, 5) demonstrate that some other hypothesis, such as independent invention or diffusion of traits, does not better fit the facts of the situation, 6) establish the presence of all cultural subsystems and not an isolated one such as  the mortuary subsystem (Snow 1980:245).  Sanger concluded that all of these criteria were met in Northern New England, thus lending support to an immigration hypothesis.  Work by Pagoulatos (1988) reached much the same conclusion about the Susquehanna in the Connecticut River Valley.  He looked at the chronological setting, site types and settlement patterns and determined that the users of the Susquehanna tools represented a complete cultural system focused on the riverine areas that displaced the local Small Stemmed populations (Pagoulatos 1988: 85).  Small Stemmed populations practiced different subsistence and procurement strategies than the Susquehanna users and thus allowed two different cultural systems to coexist.

 

Susquehanna populations in the Connecticut River Valley had relatively stable residences that allowed the exploitation of specific resource zones throughout much of the year.  Organized task groups left a central base camp to establish temporary fishing and hunting camps, thus they moved less frequently, had a lower number of large residential camps and a high number of field camps (Pagoulatos 1988:86-89).  Susquehanna populations appear to have practiced a resource procurement strategy similar to what Binford found for stable hunter-gatherer groups.  In Binford's work he found that communities were situated along the river courses for much of the year with the organized task groups leaving the camp to procure and process mammal resources by setting up temporary field camps.  In this case aggregation would be expected on the riverine and terrace locations with smaller field camps in the uplands.  The few larger residential camps found within a territory would show high intra-site and low inter-site variability (Binford 1980:18)  Basically many of the tasks, stone knapping, skin processing, cooking, plant processing, etc.,  would be done at this central residential base camp  and the structure and evidence of activities would not vary much between different residential camps.

 

The later half of the Terminal Archaic was dominated by people who used the Orient Fishtail Point Tradition.  This appears to have been a time of great change in New England with new technologies appearing and by 3000 years B.P. an interrelated series of climatic, environmental, cultural and social changes that is seen as dismantling the "finely balanced Archaic adaptive systems" (Dincauze 1974).  Environmental changes included climate cooling with a possible regression of marine shorelines, a cessation of marine transgression, a change in the forest composition from oak and hickory to chestnut and by 2000 years B.P. a breakdown of reliable trade networks (Ritchie 1969:164; Dincauze 1974: 49). Work on the I-495 corridor in the by the Public Archaeology Laboratory, Inc. in the 1980s suggests that favorable habitats were reduced at this time due to a lower availability of open water.  As a result, the margins of the largest and deepest wetlands were extensively used as well as an intensification of the use of riparian locations (PAL 1982, 1982a).  Orient Tradition sites are thus often found near the seashore or on major rivers, an occurrence that Dincauze attributes partially at least to the dissolution of trade networks, usually in locations that are protected from the prevailing winds possibly with a move to interior camps in the winter, although again, Dincauze sees year round coastal settlement by Orient Tradition peoples (Dincauze 1974:49).  Interior sites along major wetland margins, such as those identified by the I-495 work may represent these winter quarters or were the locations of special purpose resource procurement locations. Funk (1976) proposed that camps located on bluffs were occupied in the winter while riverside sites probably represent spring to fall fishing sites where anadromous species such as alewife, herring and shad were collected through the use of weirs.  There appears to be a clear separation of activities by season and site location, possibly a result of a change in settlement and procurement strategies similar to what Pagoulatos (1988) found in the Connecticut River Valley. By the end of the Orient phase, the elaborate burial ceremonialism that characterized the Susquehanna phase also appears to have come to an end (Dincauze 1974:49).  The ultimate cause of all these changes and the general terminal Archaic cultural re-adaptation are unknown or unrecognized but it may be related to the climatic deterioration and the changing forest composition that could have led to a lessening of the reliance on inland sites (Dincauze 1974: 49).

 

The Orient Tradition is characterized by resurgence in the acquisition and use of non-local cherts and jaspers from New York and Pennsylvania (Ritchie and Leveilee 1982) as well as the use of steatite for bowls.  The pattern of long-distance exchange suggests a reestablishment of expanded exchange system that contrasts with the earlier Late Archaic system (MHC 1982: 25). The Orient Tradition was first identified by Ritchie on Long Island close to Orient New York and was initially characterized by the burial of dead upon high knolls. This led some to speculate that the Orient Tradition was nothing but a mortuary cult for from New England (Ritchie 1963: 196).  This was later proved not be the case as habitation sites were identified.

 

Foods used by Orient Tradition users appear to possibly include an appreciable amount of shellfish and fish as well as deer, turtle, turkey and duck species, and small mammals such as woodchuck, gray fox, and mink. Features associated with the processing of these resources include earth ovens where foods were baked, stone platforms for roasting and the use of boiling stones. The tool kit of the Orient Tradition is characterized by the Orient Fishtail point, which make up about 88% of the point type used, and many of the same tools used earlier in the period such as atl-atl weights, full-grooved axes, rectangular celts, plano-convex  and grooved back adzes, small gouges, ovate and triangular knives, strait, stemmed and fishtail point drills of quartz and chert with few scrapers and anvil stones (Ritchie 1969:170).  Also included in this inventory are  ellipsoidal and rectanguloid stone gorgets, lots of graphite and hematite paint stones and steatite bowls and some of the earliest occurrences of locally made pottery.

 

Steatite (a.k.a. soapstone) vessels have come to be one of the hallmarks of the later half of the Terminal Archaic in New England. These vessels are oval, rectangular or nearly circular or trough-like, generally with rounded corners, rims and bases with slightly out sloping to vertical walls and squarish lobate lugs on the exterior.  The range in size from 14 to 46 centimeters long and 5 to 8 centimeters high and are sometimes found smoke stained and soot encrusted, possibly indicating direct use on fires for cooking.  Their general shape suggests that they were originally modeled on wooden bowl prototypes.  This technology does not seem to represent an independent invention in New England, but appears to have spread north from the as far south as the Virginia to North Carolina Piedmont area, eventually splitting with one northern production center being in Pennsylvania (possibly associated with the Broadpoint/ Susquehanna Tradition) and another in New England (possibly associated with the Small Stemmed Tradition)(Ritchie 1963: 170). Few sources appear to have been exploited for soapstone bowls in New England with the known ones being in Rhode Island, Connecticut and central Massachusetts.  Soapstone bowls are generally found at camp sites along major streams and not in remote inland sites where the lack of canoe transport made moving the heavy objects more difficult (Snow 1980:240). Alternately, Funk (1976) sees the presence of steatite more often on the coast as a result of seasonality.

 

Steatite vessels represent the first imperishable vessel form in the northeast.  It does not appear in New England before 4000 years B.P. with earliest date reported by Hoffman  being 3655 +/- 85 years B.P. (Hoffman 1998:48). Steatite may have been found at the Wapanucket 6 site in association with Squibnocket Triangles and radiocarbon dated at 4355+/- 185 years B.P. possibly making this the earliest occurrence in Be England (Fiedel 2001:104).  Steatite achieved its chief popularity between 3000-2500 years B.P. and disappeared after 2500 years B.P.  There does not seem to have been a clear transgression from steatite to clay pottery and their occurrences appear to overlap at some sites.  This may indicate separate but complimentary uses for these vessels.

 

The original reason why any sort of imperishable vessel was made or used in New England may lay in the social changes occurring in the Terminal Archaic. These reasons include an indigenous response to the increasing population densities in floodplain environs with durable vessels being a way to process resources more efficiently (Pagoulatos 1988: 85-91).  These resources may have included chenopodium and wetland grass seeds. The environmental changes that were occurring at the time that may have changed the available resources and led to an increase in reliance on anadromous fish (Turnbaugh 1975).  Finally a diffusion or migration of peoples or ideas from the southeast (Snow 1980: 242; Tuck 1978).

 

Steatite may have had a more ceremonial place in Terminal Archaic culture as well.  The makers of the steatite vessels are assumed to have been men, possibly ones who were engaged in ceremonial exchange with the steatite being the exchanged item (Snow 1980: 250).  This may account for more centralized distribution of steatite and the mortuary associations of it.  Sites where steatite occur may be  central ceremonial sites where males gathered for inter and intra regional trade or to participate in mortuary ceremonies (Hoffman 1998: 52). This may be related to the use recorded ethnographically from the southeast of large vessels by males for the consumption of ritual "black drink" (Sassaman 1993:170, Stewart 1997; Klein 1997: 146).  This ceremony may have been similar to that recorded in southeastern Massachusetts where young men undergoing ritual purification in preparation to become pneiseuk consumed a drink of white hellabore.  Edward Winslow, prominent Plymouth Colony settler, described the pnieseuk as

"men of great courage and wisdom, and to these also the Devil appeareth more familiarly then to others, and as we conceive maketh covenant with them to preserve them from death, by wounds, with arrows, knives, hatchets, etc. or at least both themselves and especially the people think themselves to be freed from the same. And though against their batters all of them by painting disfigure themselves, yet they are known by their cottage and boldness, by reason whereof one of them will chase almost an hundred men, for they account it death for whomsoever stand in their way. These are highly esteemed of all sorts of people, and are of the Sachems Council, without whom they will not war or undertake any weighty business. In war their Sachems for their more safety go in the midst of them. They are commonly men of the greatest stature and strength, and such as will endure most hardness, and yet are more discreet, courteous, and humane in their carriages then any amongst them scorning theft, lying, and the like base dealings, and stand as much upon their reputation as any men.

 

And to the end they may have store of these, they train up the most forward and likeliest boys from their childhood in great hardness, and make them abstain from dainty meat, observing divers orders prescribed, to the end that when they are of age the Devil may appear to them, causing to drink the juice of Sentry and other bitter herbs till they cast, which they must disgorge into the platter, and drink again, and again, till at length through extraordinary oppressing of nature it will seem to be all blood, and this the boys will do with eagerness at the first, and so continue till by reason of faintness they can scarce stand on their legs, and then must go forth into the cold: also they beat their shins with sticks, and cause them to run through bushes, stumps, and brambles, to make them hardy and acceptable to the Devil, that in time he may appear unto them. " (Italics mine) (Young 1974: 340)

 

This ceremony that helped to create the pniese may be a descended from an earlier one in the Terminal Archaic that utilized the steatite vessels. The rise of the elite fighting class of the pniese may have been a response to increased population pressure in the area and a need to defend resources. If steatite bowls were associated with males and male ceremonies, one would expect to find them in male graves as opposed to female ones.  Unfortunately, the majority of the graves of he Terminal Archaic consist of cremation burials that have produced bone that was in such a fragmented and calcined state that assignment of sex was impossible. One Terminal Archaic burial and two possible burial caches from Jamestown, Rhode Island again could not be assigned to sex, but the items  included may point towards male having been interred in the grave that contained steatite bowls and the other internments being assignable to male tool kits.  In the single grave that contained calcined bone as well as steatite, other objects interred with the individual included a small grooved axe blade, a perforated black pebble, a clutch of graphite pebbles, a slate drill blade, a chert flake, six projectile points including one of Pennsylvania Jasper, lumps of red ocher a red pigment stone and a 35.5 cm long pestle, a perforated and incised steatite pendant, a flat incised stone "tablet" and an incised quahog shell fragment (Simmons 1970: 17-27).  The caches containing steatite also had graphite pebbles, a rhyolite drill, two side-notched points of slate, a chert Orient Fishtail point, two "crude" pebble choppers a side-notched rhyolite point and two small quartz pebbles (Simmons 1970:27-32). Unfortunately it is difficult to assign sex of a burial based on grave goods alone due to the fact that grave contents may not reflect items actually used by the person interred there.  They may be items placed in the grave by friends and relatives of either sex as gifts to them and thus a mixture of male items may be in a female grave or female items in a male grave.  This could be a topic that needs to be researched more in the future. 

 

After steatite bowls ceased to be present in the archaeological record, other vessels such as wood may have taken the place of the stone vessels.  The use of a wooden vessel as opposed to a pottery one may have continued the association of a male created vessel used for a strictly male ceremony. Steatite bowls exclusively used by males may also have been replaced by chlorite and later steatite and pottery smoking pipes and pipe ceremony that went along with them.  This too seemed to have been an almost exclusively male pursuit with some ritual significance. Pipes first make their appearance after steatite bowls ceased to be found archaeologically in New England.  Like the association of steatite with male graves, the decline of the steatite bowl industry and rise of the smoking pipe and smoking ceremony is another avenue of future research.

 

Other research questions related to steatite were proposed by Sassaman (1999).  These include the following:  Did soapstone vessel production and exchange in southern New England emerge in the context of the expanding broadpoint cultural front as one of several means of alliance building with central New York groups? Did successful ties with such groups efficiently preclude or thwart assimilation between indigenous and immigrant populations in southern New England? Was the burial ceremonialism of southern New England a context of mediating ethnic distinctions between indigenous and immigrant populations as suggested by Dincauze (1975b:31)? Did the growing technological contrasts in the third millennium B.P.-notably the exclusive use of Vinette I by Meadowood groups of New York and the coexistence of both soapstone and pottery in Orient contexts of southern New England and Long Island-signify an end to traditional alliances?

 

Most researchers see the use of steatite as being antecedent to the use of clay pottery, although Hoffman has attempted to make the case for pottery having been used prior to the introduction of steatite (Hoffman 1998). The shift from steatite to pottery probably occurred gradually over time with both technologies being in use for at the same time. Funk (1976) sees the coeval existence of pottery and steatite and their relative occurrence in inland and coastal sites as being a result of seasonality.  In this situation, steatite was used on the coast in the spring to early fall and pottery was used at inland winter sites. Pottery dates as far back as 3600 years B.P. in southeastern New England and 3300 to 3100 years B.P. in southern New Hampshire (Sassaman 1999: 75).  The eventual usurping of  pottery over steatite may be related to a decreasing need in the Terminal Archaic for far-flung alliances (Fiedel 2001:106). Early pottery has been termed Vinette I and it is generally believed that at least the gross technological ideas of pottery production spread to the north from the south, possibly from the same general areas as steatite bowl production. This pottery type has been recovered in Connecticut in association with  Susquehanna points (Levin 1984:15; McBride 1984:123; Pfeiffer 1984;79). The earliest pots were straight sided with pointed, concoidal bases and some archaeologists believe that these resemble basket styles common in these earlier periods (Braun 1994:63).  This type was first identified in New York State but it is not confined to there.  Vinette I pottery has been recovered from all of New England, New York and New Jersey.  This type of pottery can be identified by its thick, strait wall and the use of abundant grit and grit as a tempering medium.  Walls of Vinette I pottery range from .6-1.1 cm (Luedtke 240).  The exterior and interior of Transitional Archaic to Early Woodland ceramics were commonly cord marked, a possible decorative technique resulting from the patting of the vessel with a cord wrapped paddle to help bond the coils together. Some smooth surfaces may also occur in some vessels either intentionally or accidentally.

 

Vinette I pottery has been found to be heavily tempered with grit composed of coarse, poorly-sorted crushed-rock and sands with a general decrease in the size of the grit over time (Bunker 208; Luedtke 229). Native pottery may also be shell tempered and although this is generally believed to be a temper used in the Middle Woodland to Contact periods, Lavin, in her work on Cape Cod ceramics postulates that the type of temper may not be temporally related but may be more closely linked to where the vessel was made.  Temper type on coastal sites may more often be shell tempered while those on inland sites may be more often grit tempered.  This has to do with the temper resources available to Native potters. Rim shapes for Vinette I ceramics are round, with some decoration consisting of incised lines possibly being present (Luedtke 244).  Decoration of the vessel it self takes the form of the cord marking, which was applied in a horizontal direction on interior and multiple directions on exterior and some incised lines (Bunker 208). The similarity of Vinette I pottery throughout the Northeast suggests a local center of invention or adoption from which the technology spread out. Ozker sees this similarity in form and structure as reflecting a similarity in function.  He sees these vessels as only being used in a fall context and were not in daily use (Ozker 1982: 210).

 

The Late and Transitional Archaic were the most common periods represented in the Cram Collection.  A total of 79 points are present in the collection, 59 Late Archaic and 20 Transitional Archaic.  Late Archaic points are best represented by Brewerton Corner Notched (n=12), Small Stemmed (n=17), Squibnocket Triangle (n=19) and Orient Fishtail (n=points. Other Late and Transitional Archaic points in the Cram collection are Otter Creek (n=1), Genessee (n=2), Atlantic (n=8), Susquahannah Broad (n=6), and Meadowood (n=1). Also present in the collection are 41 fragments from several steatite bowls.  One steatite gorget was recovered from the Allerton site.

 

Late and Transitional Archaic sites represent the most common types of sites that have been identified in Kingston with 17 sites having been identified to date.

 

5.         Early Woodland 3000-2000 BP


Following the Terminal Archaic is an ill-defined time labeled the Early Woodland by New England archaeologists.  In the face of the date for the start of pottery production being back into the Late to Terminal Archaic and the absence of horticulture possibly until after 1000 A.D, some archaeologists, like Snow, do not view the designation of Early Woodland as a valid one (1980).  They see no real change occurring that could be used to differentiate the Terminal Archaic and the next 1000 years.  They merely see a continuation of tumultuous times that began after 3000 to 4000 years ago. In the words of Filios "... the chronological picture (for the Early Woodland) is more murky than previously suspected. ...the horizon markers (of this period) need to be reevaluated." (Filios 1989:87). Traditional horizon markers for the Early Woodland have included Vinette I pottery, which has been shown to have been produced before the Early Woodland, an absence of Small Stemmed points, which have been shown to have continued in use into the Early Woodland, and increased sedentism, which appears to have begun before the Early Woodland, and horticulture, which in New England was not intensively practiced until after 1000 A.D.

 

Some of the trends identified above, the decreased population and fragmentation, are based on the small number of Early Woodland sites that have been identified.  This may be more a product of the criteria used to identify the sites, such as the presence of pottery and absence of Small Stemmed points, and number of Early Woodland sites may not be as small as thought.  If one includes sites yielding Small Stemmed points but no pottery, as these may represent special purpose floral or faunal resource procurement task camps and not residential locations, the number of sites possibly attributable to the Early Woodland increases.  Due to the increasingly long temporal use range for Small Stemmed points, their presence or absence can no longer be used as valid "datable" criteria to assign the site to one period or another.  What is needed is more radiocarbon dates associated with specific materials.  Until this occurs the Early Woodland will remain obscure and ill defined.

 

A dramatic population collapse has traditionally been one of the defining characteristics of the Early Woodland and while Hoffman (1985) does not see evidence of any break.  Filios (1989) came to a similar conclusion although her data shows a break in radiocarbon dates from 2700-2400 years B.P. possibly showing a population decline after 3800 years B.P. and a greater decline after 2800 years B.P. (Fiedel 2001: 117).  If there was in fact a population collapse, reasons for it have included climatic and environmental change, epidemics, the effects of plant and animal die-offs and socio-cultural factors (Fiedel 2001: 118). One of the main causes may have been if nut bearing trees, already in decline in the Terminal Archaic, were hit hard by plant disease or environmental change, then this may have caused a population reliant on this resource to die off.  This would account for the drop in inland sites in the period.  Alternately the populations living on the coast that focused their procurement strategies on river valley, estuarine and inshore resources may have remained relatively unscathed.  These would be the Rossville and Lagoon point users, point styles that show a high concentration in coastal areas especially Cape Cod.

 

Eight Early Woodland points are present in the Cram Collection, six Rossvilles and two Adena-like points. The production of  Small Stemmed and Squibnocket Triangles also continued into the Early Woodland, but have been included in the Late and Transitional Archaic section of this report. Five sites with Early Woodland components have been identified in Kingston.

 

6.         Middle Woodland 1700-1200 BP

This period is marked by a decrease in the number of exotic finished goods indicative of long-distance trade, and by changes in mortuary practice (increase in secondary interments, less use of ocher, fewer grave goods, more variation in preparation of the dead). While the roots of ceramic and lithic variability are found in the preceding periods, more rapid variation in sequence through time and more regional variation characterize this period. Ceramics vary more in decoration and form. Lithic projectile points are less important in the tool kit, and bone and antler tools are preserved at some sites where matrix conditions are appropriate (Shaw 1996b:84-87). By the end of the period there is evidence of maize horticulture (Thorbahn 1982).

 

Fox Creek and Steubenville bifaces characterize this part of the period (Moore 1997). There is some overlap in time between the Fox Creek and Jack's Reef points during this part of the Middle Woodland. Jack's Reef points continue to be used into the Late Woodland. Exotic lithic materials increase in the Middle Woodland, except in the Champlain drainage. Jack's Reef points are often made of non-local chert (Shaw 1996b:92-93). Some lithic tool types, such as Rossville (Shaw 1996b:90) and Small Stemmed (Hasenstab et al. 1990) continue into the Middle Woodland.

 

The Middle Woodland is well represented in the Cram Collection with a total of 26 points being present in the Cram Collection. The majority of these points appear to be Greenes (n=14), with Fox Creek Stemmed (n=6) and Jack's Reef Pentagonal (n=6) also being present. Several pieces of pottery with dentate stamping were also present in the Cram Collection.  Many of thee fragments came from one vessel, possibly the complete pot that was recovered from the child's grave by Cram. Three sites with Middle Woodland components have been identified in Kingston.

 

7.         The Late Woodland Period 1000-500 BP

This is the period just prior to European contact and as a result, many of the historical reports written by the early explorers to New England (Verrazanno, Gosnold, Pring, Smith) present one way of understanding the late Late Woodland period.  Some of their observations may be able to be extrapolated back into the Pre-Contact past through the use of ethnographic analogy.  These analogies can be created with more confidence as pertaining to the culture of the Late Woodland period than any earlier one. 

 

The ceramics of the Late Woodland period are often shell-tempered or made with fine grit temper and have thinner bodies and a more globular form than the earlier ceramics. The diagnostic projectile point of the Late woodland period is the triangular Levanna points and occasionally the Madison. This period is marked by an increasing importance in food production (maize, beans, squash, sunflower and other vegetables) in coastal or riverine zones, which begins by ca. 1100 BP on Martha's Vineyard (Ritchie 1969).

 

These decrease in projectile point styles and the increase in the reliance on horticultural crops, may be attributed to increasing numbers and densities of population at larger sites. While the occurrence of the "village" in southeastern Massachusetts continues to be debated, the affect of an increased reliance on corn, beans, squash and to a lesser degree gourds, sunflowers and tobacco, definitely led to a degree of sedentism not seen prior to this time (Hasenstab 1999; Kerber 1988).

 

Ceramics are often shell-tempered or made with fine grit temper and thinner bodied; there is a shift to globular forms, and the addition of collars, sometimes decorated with human faces. Elaborate collars similar to those of Iroquois ceramics are found in the Merrimack and Champlain drainages. Triangular projectile points (smaller Madison points or larger Levanna points) are diagnostic for this period. This period is marked by an increasing importance in food production (maize, beans, squash, sunflower and other vegetables) in coastal or riverine zones, which begins by ca. 1100 BP on Martha's Vineyard (Ritchie 1969).


These changes in assemblage, and by implication, adaptation, are attributed to increasing numbers and densities of population at larger sites. Research issues include the extent of permanency in Late Woodland settlements, the nature of such settlements (i.e., whether such settlements were villages; see Hasenstab 1999; Kerber 1988), the identification of horticulture with non-native plants and definition of the effects on humans. In addition, researchers might ask about the use of different ecozones, the reality of population growth, and whether or not climate change (e.g., the Little Ice Age), affected settlement and subsistence. There is some evidence of the development of long-distance exchange again, and some workers have suggested that a native beaver trade was developed before Contact. Regional differences are visible. In Vermont, there are fewer late Late Woodland sites than early Late Woodland. This may be a response to Iroquois settlement changes. In southern New England, horticulture did not replace existing gathering and hunting strategies, and large settlements did not replace small seasonal sites. Differential dependence on horticulture is likely to have affected society and politics. Cultural differentiation of the Iroquois from the Algonquin also presents research opportunities (Shaw 1996c).

 

Fifty-seven Late Woodland Levanna points were present in the Cram Collection and three were present in the Allerton collection. Five Late Woodland sites have been identified in Kingston.

 

8.         Contact Period

The Contact period was a time a dramatic social, political and personal upheaval for southeastern Massachusetts Native populations.  This period began with amiable trade relations with European explorers such as Verrazanno (1524)  and Gosnold (1602), followed by a growing distrust of Europeans and an increase in hostility between the two, especially on Cape Cod (Pring 1603, Champlain 1605).  This hostility was due primarily to the kidnaping of Native men by Europeans desirous of returning home with informants or curiosities from the New World (Weymouth 1607, Hunt under Smith 1614).  By the time of the settling of  the English at Plymouth, 1620, Natives in southeastern Massachusetts had been decimated by a European epidemic, 1616-1619, with mortality rates possibly reaching 100% in some communities.


The first recorded trading encounter in New England occurred in 1524 and involved the Florentine sailor Giovanni da Verrazano who was sailing for France.  Verrazanno arrived in Narragansett Bay in April of 1524 and traded with the natives (Parker1968f:14).  He stated that the people were apparently unfamiliar with  Europeans and were very willing to trade and host the visitors. The natives were first enticed to trade by tossing  "some little bells, and glasses and many toys" (Parker1968f:14) to them as they came to Verrazano's ship in their own boats.  The Europeans remained in the harbor until early May and Verrazanno stated that of all of the goods they traded to the natives "...they prized most highly the bells, azure (blue) crystals, and other toys to hang in their ears and about their necks; they do not value or care to have silk or gold stuffs, or other kinds of cloth, nor implements of steel or iron." (Parker 1968f: 16).  It was also noted that the natives here possessed ornaments of wrought copper which they prized greater than gold. The copper may have come indirectly through trade with natives to the north who traded them from European fishermen or it may have been native copper from the Great Lakes or Bay of Fundy regions.

 

The next explorer known to have visited southeastern Massachusetts was Bartholomew Gosnold who arrived at the Elizabeth Islands off Martha's Vineyard in May of 1602.  There he traded with the first natives he encountered, giving them  "certain trifles, as knives, points, and such like, which they much esteemed." (Parker1968b:38).  Gosnold's crew, in return for the "trifles" received many different types of fur from animals such as beavers, luzernes, martens, otters, wild-cats, black foxes, conie (rabbit) skins, deer and seals as well as  cedar and sassafras, the later which was prized as a cure-all in Europe.  Of particular note is his description of the great store of copper artifacts which he saw people wearing and using. He said that all of them had

" chaines, earrings or collars of this metall; they head some of their

              arrows here with (it), much like our broad arrowheads, very

  workmanly made.  Their chaines are many hollow pieces semented

  together, ech piece of the bignesse of one of our reeds, a finger in

  length, ten or twelve of them together on a string, which they wear

  about their necks; their collars they weare about their bodies like

  bandoliers a handful broad, all hollow pieces, like the other but

  shorter, foure hundred pieces in a collar, very fine and evenly set

  together. Besides these they have large drinking cups, made like

  sculles, and other thinne plates of copper, made much like our boar

  head speares, all of which they little esteem, as they offered their

  fairest collars or chjaines for a knife or trifle....I was desirous to

  understand where they had such store of this metall, and made signes

  to one of them....who taking a piece of copper in his hand, made a hole with his finger in the ground, and withall, pointed to the maine from  whence they came." (Parker1968b:44). 

The native informant asked by Gosnold as to where they received the copper from was probably either signing that it came from the mainland, possibly he meant through trade with natives or Europeans or he may have been referring to a native historical tale as to the origin of the copper.  What is interesting is the great store of copper possessed by the natives and the desire that was present to trade for metal knives. It would appear that between 1524 and 1602 they had begun to see a value in steel knives and they had expanded their use of copper to create beads and arrowheads, whereas in 1524 they were noted as having only breastplates of copper.

 

The presence of so much copper and the desire by the Natives to trade with the Europeans highlights the early relations.  Natives saw European goods as being different, special, in some ways technologically superior and spiritually empowering. Unfortunately, the power that the Natives felt could help them cope  with the sometimes disturbing new relationship with these strangers could not preserve them from their diseases.  Sometime around 1616, an epidemic swept south from Maine among the Native people.  Various authors since the seventeenth century have sought to identify what this disease was with the most likely candidate being infectious hepatitis.

 

Contact Period settlement is believed to have been potentially substantial, with Native settlements and farms located along the Jones River and its tributaries.  the principle Native trails became the Plantation and Colonial period roads throughout the town.  These routes included the main coastal pathway from Plymouth to the Pembroke Ponds, present day Route 3A, Crescent Street, Landing Road, Howland Lane, Route 27, School,  Brookdale and Evergreen streets, Route 106 and Route 80 (MHC 1984: 1). Two Contact Period sites have been identified in Kingston.

 

Seventeenth century artifacts were present in both the Cram and Allerton collections. The Cram Collection contained one artifact clearly identifiable to the seventeenth century, a fragment of a Border ware pipkin.

 

B.        History of Kingston 1620-1900

Kingston began as the North Precinct of Plymouth.  Settlement occurred here at least by the early 1630s when it is known that several of the original Old Comers amongst the settlers at Plymouth spent at least the summers here. The Town of Kingston was incorporated in 1726 and the nook, a.k.a. Adeneh, was annexed from Duxbury in 1857.

 

The Plantation Period (1620-1675) saw expansion from Plymouth Plantation into the North Precinct/ Jones River area by the late 1620s and definitely by the early 1630s.  Families that had at least summer residences near their planting grounds included Jenny and later Howland at Rocky Nook, Cook, Fuller along Smelt Brook, Allerton at the end of today's Elder Spring Street, Pratt, Bradford and Abraham Pierce. A ferry operated by Joseph Rogers may have briefly operated across the Jones River to Duxbury in 1636. Settlement concentrated along the Jones River from Rocky Nook to the west.  The Jones River also was the early center of mill activities with a saw mill being located at the junction of the Jones River and Elm Street and a fulling mill at the junction of the Jones River and Wapping Road (MHC 1984:2).

 


The Colonial Period (1675-1775) saw the establishment of a formal town center with the construction of a meeting house in 1720 on the corner of Main and Green streets. Ferry service across the Jones River was discontinued at some point during the eighteenth century (MHC 1984: 3). Native and African American populations remained an important element of the population in Kingston throughout this period, numbering enough to have galleries built in the meetinghouse in 1752 for the Christian Natives (MHC 1984:3). Native populations were likely pushed further to the west of the main settlements to inland, less desirable areas such as the southern uplands and the area around Piegan Hill, where a documented site exists (MHC 1984: 4). Natives and Africans were likely involved in the sea trades as well as possibly being hired as laborers and servants. The European element of the population remained dominant, numbering 48 families by 1717, 550 persons by 1726 and 759 persons by 1765 (MHC 1984: 3). The economic base of Kingston during the Colonial Period included mills, sawmills, forges, gristmills, shovel works and dyewood manufactory,  on very major stream and a growing shipbuilding industry on the Jones River (MHC 1984: 4). Throughout the eighteenth century Kingston's wharves along Landing Road and Rocky Nook served as important import and export trade centers with goods arriving and being shipped to Boston, Salem, the West Indies and Great Britain. Tryworks were erected north of the Landing Road wharves in association with a soap factory, both of which serviced whalers who left Rocky Nook from the mid eighteenth century on (MHC 1984: 4).

 

The Federal Period (1775-1830) saw slow growth in Kingston's population and an expansion of Kingston's fishing fleet.  Industry remained strong along the river and brooks with iron and nail manufacturing as well as shoemaking growing in prominence (MHC 1984: 5). 

 

The Early Industrial Period (1830-1870) saw Kingston reach its peak of manufacturing with many people employed in the shipyards or one of the 24 mills present by the 1830s in the town (MHC 1984: 6). Shipbuilding did see a decline as the period went on, eventually leading to a cessation of this activity in 1887 (MHC 1984: 7).

 

The Late Industrial Period (1870-1900) saw a fairly steady growth in population with an influx of foreign born immigrants working in te tack, brad, rivet and nail companies in town (MHC 1984: 8). The railroad reached Kingston in 1879 with the construction of the Duxbury Branch Railroad, which brought wealth and Tourists from the boston area (MHC 1984: 8).

 

C.        Kingston Archaeological Sites


In the Massachusetts Historical Commission sites files,  a total of 51 pre-Contact and Contact Period sites have been identified by both professional and avocational archaeologists in Kingston.  Of these 51 sites, only 19 or 37% had temporally identifiable components.  The remainder of the sites are identified generally only information stating that artifacts had been recovered but with no identified materials being listed.  Of the 19 identified sites, nine were single component and ten were multi-component. From the 19 sites where temporally identified components were present,  a total of 35 components were present. The most common type of site in were of Late Archaic age, a situation typical of southeastern Massachusetts towns.

 

 

When the unknown sites are removed from discussion, the remaining components show a truer distribution of sites from the various time periods (Table 1).

 

Table1: Components identified (Total sites, unknown excluded)

 

 

 

Kingston

 

Paleoindian

 

0

 

Early Archaic

 

1/ 2.9%

 

Middle Archaic

 

2/ 5.7%

 

Late Archaic

 

17/ 48.6%

 

Early Woodland

 

5/ 14.3%

 

Middle Woodland

 

3/ 8.6%

 

Late Woodland

 

5/ 14.3%

 

Contact

 

2/ 5.7%

 

Total

 

35

 

The most common types of sites in Kingston date from the Late and Transitional Archaic Periods with Early and Late Woodland sites being the second most common. The locations of the sites can help to form predictive models of where sites are expected to be found in the future (Table 2).

 

Table 2. Kingston sites on file at the MHC

 

Site Location

 

Component

 

# of Components

 

# of Sites

 

Ratio

 

Pond/ Lake

 

 

 

11

 

11

 

1:1

 

 

 

Shell heap

 

1

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

Quarry

 

1

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

Unknown

 

6

 

6

 

 

 

 

 

LA

 

3

 

 

 

 

 

Upland

 

 

 

6

 

6

 

1:1

 

 

 

Unknown

 

6

 

6

 

 

 

River

 

 

 

20

 

16

 

1.25:1

 

 

 

Unknown

 

9

 

9

 

 

 

 

 

Shell Heap

 

1

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

LA

 

4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EW

 

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MW

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LW

 

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contact

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

Brooks

 

 

 

32

 

18

 

1.8:1

 

 

 

Unknown

 

11

 

11

 

 

 

 

 

Shellheap

 

2

 

2

 

 

 

 

 

EA

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MA

 

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LA

 

5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EW

 

3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MW

 

3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LW

 

4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contact

 

1

 

 

 

 

 


Pre-contact and Contact period sites in Kingston occur in four general locations: pond or lake shores, rivers, brooks and in upland locations. The majority of the sites identified to date have been located along the edges of the Jones River (n=20) and the Halls, Smelt and Second brooks (n=32). Table 2 shows the distribution of sites and components in each of these contexts.  It can be seen that upland locations contained sites of unknown type, generally indicating short term activity not directly associated with any particular water source. Based on similar sites from other towns, these likely represent Late Archaic occupation and utilization of upland resources for brief periods of time. Pond and lake sites represent a variety of activities such as quarrying and shellfish consumption as well as lithic reduction with all of the sites with components dating to the Late Archaic. Sites along the Jones River were found to date to from the Late Archaic to Contact periods. The ratio of components to sites along the Jones River was 1.25 : 1.  Sites along the brooks in Kingston had the widest range of datable components and the earliest components as well.  All of the Early and Middle Archaic sites were located along Hall and Second brooks as well as the majority of the Middle and Late Woodland sites.  The ratio of components to sites was found to be 1.8 : 1.  When compared to riverine locations, brook side sites saw longer periods of occupation as well as more multi-component sites.  Multi-component site identification indicates that the site location contained certain environmental variables that people thousands of years apart found favorable.  This indicates that brook side locations may have had more resources available or had resources that were accessible for more of the year.

 

One site that is very similar in many aspects is the Powers shell heap. This site  is located on the sheltered eastern side of Russell's and Foundry Pond in Kingston. It was excavated by the Massasoit Chapter of the Massachusetts Archaeological Society.  their work identified several stone-lined hearths, many shellfish and faunal remains, many sherds of Vinette 1 pottery and a lug-handled steatite bowl handle (Sherman 1960: 18). Numerous pieces of worked bone were also recovered including items such as awls, fish hooks, arrow points, and  "bodkins" or "daggers" made from deer ulna (Sherman 1960:18). Two steatite pipe bowl fragments, three section of white clay pipe stems, one iron chest key, two cast bronze buckles, one large iron fish hook,  one bone lice comb and several rolled copper beads,  one copper "axe",  and pistol or gunflints all of which point to either Contact Period occupation or later European occupation of this area (Sherman 1948:75; 1960: 8).

 

D.        Material Types

Below, brief descriptions of the common types of materials that were identified in the Kingston Public Library Local History Room collections, are given.

 

1.         Argillite

Argillites are fine grained sedimentary rocks (like mudstone and slate) that have been metamorphosed to varying degrees.  As a result, these stones are harder than their original sedimentary rock and thus suitable for limited stone knapping to produce tools.  Unfortunately, argillites still maintain a degree of sedimentary platyness and have a tendency to flake in layers, making them somewhat difficult to work. Types of argillite include Black (originating in the Delaware River Valley of New Jersey and Pennsylvania), Maroon (originating from the Chicopee shales in western Massachusetts), Blue-Grey, Tan, Grey (all originating from either the Cambridge slates in the Boston basin or Barrington, Rhode Island), Green Platy (originating in Barrington, Rhode Island and also occurring in glacial drift deposits in the Taunton River Basin), Banded (originating in the Cambridge slates in the Boston basin) and Coarse grained green (Originating in Hull, Massachusetts).   Argillites are common in glacial drift deposits in many locals in eastern Massachusetts and occur predominantly in the Late Archaic, although they were also used to a lesser degree in other time periods.

 

One oval green grey biface, one green grey lenticular biface, two drills( one grey and one green grey),  one grey Otter Creek, two green grey Susquahannah Broad, one tan grey Neville, and one grey Atlantic points were recovered.  The majority of the recovered points were from the Late and Transitional Archaic Periods, indicating that argillite was most commonly used during this period, with some use during the Middle Archaic.

 

One argillite Small stemmed point was recovered from site 19-PL-817, which was located on Second Brook.

 

2.         Cryptocrystalline Silicates

These sedimentary rocks are extremely fine-grained and as a result, are the perfect type of stone for flint knapping.  There are few fractures running through them and due to their tight molecular crystalline structure, the flake with sharp strait edges.  None of the cryptocrystalline silicates found archaeologically are known to occur as outcrops in Massachusetts and when recovered from a site are generally believed to have arrived through trade or were carried there by the past inhabitants. This class of lithic includes chalcedonies and cherts.  Chalcedonies include Grey, such as Ramah chalcedony  (originating in northern Labrador) and White (originating from Flint Ridge, Ohio). Cherts include Green, such as Coxsackie and Deepkill, (outcropping in the Hudson Valley), Grey (outcropping in the Western Onondaga formation, New York), Grey and Brown Mottled, commonly associated with Meadowood points (outcropping in the Western Onondaga formation, New York), Scoracious or pitted (outcropping at Fort Ann, New York), Banded, commonly associated with Paleoindian sites, Black (outcropping at Normanskill, Fort Ann, Helderberg and Munsungen Lake, New York), Dark Brown (occurring in the Normanskill and Central Onondaga formations, New York), White, a weathered variety of black or brown chert, and Fossiliferous, or those containing fossils.

 

Two chalcedony flakes are present in the Cram Collection, one grey piece with a tan core and one tan flake that has the shape of a possible Paleo-Indian channel flake. One rectangular biface, one triangular biface, one oval biface, one parallel sided drill, one T-shaped biface, two Brewerton eared points, one Small Stemmed point with a rounded base, one Atlantic point, and one Genessee point.  The chert artifacts from the Cram Collection were all greys and dark greys, likely from the Onondaga or Normanskill formations in New York.

 

Chert has been recovered from three sites in Kingston, 19-PL-476, 786 and 818. At 19-PL-476, which was located on the Jones River, a black chert Gennessee point was recovered and one flake was recovered from both sites 19-PL-786 and 818, respectively located on Smelt and Second brooks.

 

3.         Felsites/ Rhyolite

The term felsite and rhyolite are used interchangeably by archaeologists, leading to heated discussions about which is the correct one.  Both terms can be used to describe the same lithic type, basically intrusive volcanics formed by the rapid cooling of  granite magma. Felsite/ rhyolites are fine grained with dark or light crystals (phenocrysts), essentially bits of volcanic crystals, imbedded within the matrix.  They can have no visible phenocrysts (aphenytic felsite/ rhyolite) or have large, prominent ones (porphyritic felsite/ rhyolite).  The phenocrysts may be large or small and banding may also be present.  Felsite/ rhyolites commonly occur in glacial drift deposits and are often encountered as rounded cobbles on beaches.  The original parent source of these stones appears to have been in the northeastern quarter of Massachusetts.

 

Felsite/ Rhyolites include Black with white phenocrysts (originating in the Newbury Volcanic Complex), Green Fine-Grained, a dark green felsite lacking visible phenocrysts (originating in the Lynn Vocanic Complex in Melrose, Massachusetts), Maroon/ Purple/ Red (originating in the Lynn Vocanic Complex in Marble head, Massachusetts), Grey with dark small phenocrysts (originating in the many volcanic complexes), Blue-Grey with dark phenocrysts (originating in the Blue Hills Complex in Braintree, Massachusetts), Cream and Rust Stained coarse grained grey green to tan with pyrite crystals (originating in the Mattapan Vocanic Complex in the Sally Rock Quarry in Hyde Park), Red Banded with dark red to pink fine banding or swirls on a light red, tan or cream matrix, also called Mattapan Red Felsite (originating in the Mattapan Volcanic Complex on the Neponset River), Red to Maroon Porphyritic with dark red or white phenocrysts (outcropping in Hingham, Massachusetts), Green porphyritic visible dark glassy and white phenocrysts (outcropping at Mount Kineo on Moosehead lake in Maine), Red light red to pink with a coarse texture phenocrysts may or may not be visible but are pink or tan feldspar or translucent silica glass, banding may occur in same composition as phenocrysts, also known as Attleboro Red Felsite (outcropping in Attleboro, Massachusetts), Banded and Other Porphyritic.

 

Two hundred and nineteen pieces of rhyolite chipping debris are present in the Cram Collection, along with six cores, 87 rhyolite bifaces, one uniface, one drill, three hammerstones, one abrader, one full-grooved axe, and 104 rhyolite projectile points.  The bifaces included one blocky, one round, 28 square or rectangular, three stemmed, 12 triangular, 17 oval, 15 lenticular, 6 amorphous shaped, two tear-drop shaped, one T-shaped, one curved, one drill, and one uniface.  Projectile points included 28 Levannas, five Squibnocket Triangles, seven Brewerton eared, one Meadowood, three Small Stemmed, ten Greene, four Fox Creek, four Jack's Reef,  three Rossville, two Adena-like, one Genessee-like, 13 Orient Fishtail, five Atlantic, four Susquahannah Broad, ten Starks, four Nevilles, and one Neville-variant. The raw material rhyolite likely came from cobbles collected on beaches or generally from glacial outwash deposits.  Rhyolite was utilized for a wide variety of tools, especially as bifaces and projectile points.  It was also a favored raw material in all the periods represented in the collection.


Rhyolite has been recovered at most of the sites that have been identified in Kingston.

 

4.         Volcanics

Volcanics is a sort of catch all classification encompassing several classes of material.  Hornfels are dark grey to black metamorphosed lithics formed by the baking of sedimentary deposits by cooling bodies of magma and are found in quarries in the Blue Hills outside of Boston.  Rhyolitic Tuff is orange to tan with a coarse sandy texture and no phenocrysts (originating in the New bury Volcanic Complex).  Brown Jasper is  a brown to yellow fine grained cryptocrystalline silicate aslo known as Pennsylvania Jasper.  It originates in Pennsylvania but may also be found in Conklin, Rhode Island.  Red to Maroon Jasper is also called Saugus Jasper and is an igneous rock (originating in the Lynn Volcanic Complex).  It is a fine grained, glassy and aphenytic varying in color from maroon to light pink with yellow to tan banding.  Igneous is a term used to identify any lithic types that do not fall within the other classifications.

 

Two hornfels bifaces, one rectangular and one fragment, are present in the Cram Collection, as well as one adze, one Brewerton eared, one Greene, one Fox Creek, one Jack's Reef and five Levannas.  Hornfels, which was likely traded from the Boston area, appears to have been initially used to a limited degree in the Late Archaic and Middle Woodland Periods and had its peak in use during the Late Woodland. One possible hornfels scraper was recovered from site 19-PL-559 located at the junction of the Jones River and Silver Lake.

 

Few pieces of Saugus Jasper are present in the Cram Collection. Three flakes were recovered as well as one Brewerton Eared point.  It appears that Saugus Jasper saw limited use during the Late Archaic.

 

Pennsylvania Jasper is present in the Cram Collection in the form of one point tip, one biface fragment, one piece of chipping debris and one Jack's Reef Pentagonal point.  Pennsylvania Jasper appears to have had limited utilization during the Middle Woodland Period. One untyped  Pennsylvania Jasper point was recovered from site 19-PL-556 at the junction of the Jones River and Silver Lake.


5.         Crystalline Silicates

This class includes quartz and quartzites.  Quartz may include Crystalline, Milky or smoky. Quartz is a vein forming mineral that was deposited in the fissures in other rocks. Quartzite, a metamorphosed sedimentary rock that originated as ancient beaches with a coarse grained texture and no phenocrysts of banding, commonly occurs in glacial drift deposits.  Sources for quartzite have been identified in Westboro in the Sudbury and Assabet Drainages and Worcester at the South Bay quarry.  Quartzite that has been highly metamorphosed is called metaquartz or mylonite.  These are extremely fine grained occasionally with a glassy texture ranging from green to light green to white.  These have been identified from the Concord/ Sudbury and Ware/ Quaboag drainages and may outcrop in Central Massachusetts.

 

6.         Other Materials

Sandstone, a soft sedimentary rock with a coarse texture was often used for abrading and sharpening tools. Schist is a metamorphoised sedimentary rock.  One form, an amphibolite schist, is dark grey to dark green and coarse grained to the point of resembling quartzite with platy fracture patterns.  This was often used on Middle Archaic Stark points.   Slates are metamorphosed mudstones with platy fracture properties.