Friday, November 14, 2008

Stone Age Man in the Schoharie Valley

As time progressed, man became more advanced and intelligent. Their ceramics became more decorated, and their survival became less dependent on hunting and gathering.

After the Transitional Stage, 1300B.C.-1000B.C., came the Woodland Stage, which lasted from 1000B.C. to about 1500A.D., or the first contact with the white race. There are three phases in the Woodland Stage, the Early Woodland phase, also known as the Meadowood phase, the Middle Woodland phase, and the Late Woodland phase.

People who lived during the Meadowood Phase had a hunting, gathering, and fishing economy, but the growing of corn has not been proven. Burial customs were used more during this period, and included cremation and grave offerings. Ceramics were improved during the Meadowood phase, compared to the Transitional Stage. These ceramics are called “Vinette 1” and were crude, thick, and, in fact, are used for an identification characteristic of the time period. Also, gorgets, decorative chest ornaments, and stones with the effigy of birds are attributed to this time period. Projectile points during that time were thin, well made, and normally 2.25-2.75 inches long. Artifacts from this time period have been found in Schoharie County, including the Arthur Nahrwold farm in Middleburgh, and in the vicinity of Vroman’s nose.

After the Meadowood Phase came the Middle Woodland Period. These people used more complex methods and materials for their ceramics. These ceramics are called “Vinette 2”, and were used for, like Vinette 1, water and such, but, unlike Vinette 1, Vinette 2 also showed the artist’s “pride of creation.” Once again, agriculture cannot be proven during this time period. Middle Woodland people occupied the Paul Westheimer farm north of the Schoharie village. In the soil at the farm, there was found to be three occupation levels. The top-most layer was dated at around 1300A.D., and was occupied by a group of early Owasco. The middle layer was dated at 450A.D. and 410A.D. The middle layer held Fox Creek projectile points, which were found in the same layer with Middle Woodland ceramic pot fragments. The bottom layer was dated at 570B.C. and was filled with unusual projectile points and unidentified ceramics.

Owasco Indians had developed by 1000. These Indians cultivated vegetables, like corn and beans, and possibly pumpkins and squash. The ceramics that these Owasco Indians created could hold up to twelve gallons. Evidence of this culture was found at the Arthur Nahrwold farm, which is south of Middleburgh. Here, pipes, fire pits, and evidence of posts were found. The site at the Nahrwold site was occupied for about 150 years. Interestingly, no palisade walles were found, meaning this was an open town. Projectile points used by the Owasco were called “Levanna”. The final projectile points of this time period were called “Madison.”

It truly is amazing that there still could be undiscovered pots, projectile points, or whatever right under our feet.

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