Tag Archives: Archaeology

Pre-European Agriculture in the Champlain Valley


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When I set out to write From Forest to Fields: A History of Agriculture in New York’s Champlain Valley, I became discouraged by the mixed information coming

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from various authors.

While there is archeological evidence of Native settlements in Plattsburgh at Cumberland Bay, across Lake Champlain in Vermont and along the Hudson River and its tributaries, little information exists for the rest of the Adirondack Coast. Continue reading

Archaeology Theme For Schoharie Crossing Canal Days


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Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site in Fort Hunter (Schoharie County) will be hosting the 28th annual Canal Days Celebration on Saturday, July 14 and on Sunday, July 15, 2012 from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm. Admission and parking are free.

Canal Days is dedicated to the historical significance of the Erie Canal and its impact on New York State. However, due to damaged caused by last fall’s Tropical Storm Irene and the unearthing of the remains of Fort Hunter for its 300th anniversary, there will be an archaeology theme and a focus on Schoharie Crossing’s earlier 18th century history as well as the 19th century canal history. Continue reading

Secrets Beneath the Walls of Fort Ticonderoga Tours


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Have you ever wondered what lies beneath Fort Ticonderoga’s stone walls? Fort Ticonderoga’s curator, Christopher Fox will lead explorations of Fort Ticonderoga’s hidden past to see remarkably preserved evidence of the Fort’s original structures and catch a glimpse at some of the systems that keeps the Fort running today.

This special behind-the-scenes tour will take visitors into five areas of the Fort not accessible to the general public. In these areas visitors will see original French stone foundations of barracks buildings and cavernous spaces beneath the parapet walls preserving clues to how the Fort was built over 250 years ago and then preserved over the last century.

This hour and a half tour is scheduled at 1:00 pm each Thursday in July and August. Space is limited, advanced reservations are recommended or tickets, as available, can be purchased on the day of the tour at the Guest Services Desk in the Log House Welcome Center. Price is $35 per person with regular general admission.

The tour will begin at the Guest Services Desk located in the Log House Welcome Center. Climbing stairs and passing through narrow spaces is required on this tour and it is not handicap accessible or appropriate for those who have difficulty walking.

Fort Ticonderoga was constructed beginning in the fall of 1755 by the French to protect the outlet of the La Chute River and the short overland portage between Lake Champlain and Lake George. It was captured by the British in July 1759 who held it until its capture by Ethan Allen, Benedict Arnold and the Green Mountain Boys in 1775. The British recaptured the Fort in July 1777 and then abandoned it later that fall. After suffering the ravages of time and the elements, the Fort was restored by the Pell family beginning in the spring of 1909.

Iroquois Indian Museum Hosting Early Technology Day


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On July 4, The Iroquois Indian Museum will host its Early Technology Day, billed as a hands-on learning experience about life in early America.

Visitors can watch and participate in the process of flint knapping (the ancient art of making chipped stone tools), Primitive fire making, Atlatl spear throwing and early archery. There will be displays of projectile points, tools, and local archaeological finds from the Museum’s archaeology department. Have you ever found an artifact? Please bring it with you and the Museum’s experts will try to identify it for you. Continue reading

Lake George’s Sunken Fleet of 1758 Event


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On Tuesday, June 5, 7 p.m. at Thurman town hall underwater archaeologist  Joseph W. Zarzynski will present a talk on Bateaux Below’s study of “The Sunken Fleet of 1758,” a notable event at Lake George during the French & Indian War (1755-1763).

In the autumn of 1758, the British sank over 260 warships in Lake George to protect the vessels over the winter of 1758-1759 from their enemy, the French and their Native American allies. Many of the sunken warships were recovered in 1759 and reused by the British.  However, over 40 sunken warships were never retrieved by the British forces in 1759 and they offer underwater archaeologists an excellent opportunity to study these shipwrecks to find out about the colonial soldiers that used them.

Zarzynski’s talk will give details on Bateaux Below’s 24-year-long study (1987-2011) of “The Sunken Fleet of 1758.”Zarzynski is co-founder of Bateaux Below, co-author (with Bob Benway) of the book Lake George Shipwrecks and Sunken History, and co-authored the documentary Search for the Jefferson Davis: Trader, Slaver, Raider.  The documentary, written with Dr. Samuel Turner, was a 2012 Peabody Awards nominee, and an “Official Selection” in the Orlando Film Festival (2011),  Amelia Island Film Festival (2012), and the Buffalo Niagara Film Festival (2012). The documentary was named one of three finalists for “Best Documentary” in the 6th Buffalo Niagara Film Festival.

Zarzynski’s June 5th program, hosted by the John Thurman Historical Society, is free and open to the public, and refreshments will be served. Thurman town hall is located at 311 Athol Road, Athol, NY, about 6 miles from the Warrensburg Health Center via route 418 and Athol Road. For more information, call 518-623-9305.

Photo: Joseph W. Zarzynski holds a model of the type of 18th century radeau that plied the waters of Lake George during the French and Indian War (Photo courtesy Peter Pepe).

Iroquois Indian Museum Prepares Opening, Events


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The Iroquois Indian Museum opens for its 2012 season on May 1 with a new exhibit and special events planned throughout the year. From May 1 until the closing day on November 30, the Museum hosts the exhibition, “Birds and Beasts in Beads: 150 Years of Iroquois Beadwork.” The exhibit features more than 200 beaded objects, largely from the collection of retired archeologist and Museum trustee, Dolores Elliott. Continue reading

Medical Center to Scan Albany Institute Mummies


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In preparation for the 2013 exhibition The Mystery of the Albany Mummies, the Albany Institute of History & Art’s two mummies, each thousands of years old, will be brought to Albany Medical Center for CT scans and x-rays, using modern imaging techniques to learn the mummies’ genders, causes of death, and more. Leading experts in body imaging and Egyptology will direct the procedures and analyze results.

The Albany Institute of History & Art’s two mummies were acquired from Cairo, Egypt in 1909, were brought to the Albany Institute from Cairo in 1909 by Samuel W. Brown, a member of the museum’s Board of Trustees. The mummies and their coffins have been seen by generations of visitors.

Arthur Pielli, Radiology Manager at Albany Medical Center, and two radiologists, Phuong Nguyen Vinh, MD, and Michael Edward Schuster, MD will examine the mummies. The results will then be analyzed with the help of Egyptologist and medical doctor Dr. Robert Brier, a Senior Research Fellow at Long Island University known as “Mr. Mummy,” and Dr. Peter Lacovara, the exhibition’s guest curator and Senior Curator of Egypt, Nubia and Near East at the Carlos Museum at Emory University.

The mummies were last examined by x-rays and CT scans on November 12, 1988. This preliminary analysis helped to determine the mummies’ sex, approximate ages, and various insights into the mummification process. The x-rays and CT scans show a number of bundles inside both of the mummies. Based on the last scan, it was determined that the partially unwrapped mummy is Ankhefenmut, a priest in the temple of Mut at Karnak in Thebes during Dynasty XXI (c.1085-945 BC).

Ankhefenmut is reported to have died in 966 and was probably between 55 and 65 years old at the time of his death. The wrapped mummy is a woman. Her name is not known because the top of the coffin was badly deteriorated and left in Cairo by Samuel Brown in 1909. According to Brown she also came from the cache at Deir el-Bahri. X-rays reveal that she was probably between 35-45 years old when she died.

During Dynasty XXI, a change in the practice of mummification occurred. The internal organs were no longer placed in canopic jars, but were usually wrapped in linen packages. These packages were then placed in the empty body or placed between the legs. Canopic jars, however, continued to be a part of the funerary equipment, but were made smaller.

Perhaps the most interesting discovery was a well-crafted fake toe, possibly made of ceramic, carefully attached to the right foot of the wrapped mummy. It is presumed that the toe was fashioned for the woman during the mummification process because of the belief that one had to be physically intact to enter the afterlife. This discovery was highlighted on The Learning Channel’s program, The Ancient ER, in February 2003.

The initiative is a collaboration between the Albany Institute of History & Art, Albany Medical Center, University at Albany Foundation, and the University at Albany Center for Humanities, Arts, and TechnoSciences.

Photo: Partially unwrapped mummy of Ankhefenmut, a priest in the temple of Mut at Karnak in Thebes during Dynasty XXI (c.1085-945 BC). Courtesy Albany Institute of History and Art.

Iroquois Beadwork at the ‘Art of Flowering’ Talk


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The Adirondack Museum’s fifth 2012 Cabin Fever Sunday series program, “Inventing Fashion: Iroquois Beadwork at the ‘Art of Flowering’” will be held on Sunday, March 18, 2012. The event will be offered free of charge.

In the mid-19th century, New York State officials began to collect Iroquois material culture, intending to preserve remnants of what they saw as a vanishing race. At the same time, Iroquois women were discovering that their beadwork was appealing to the fashionable Victorian women flocking to Niagara Falls and Saratoga Springs on the Grand Tour of America.

This multimedia presentation by Dr. Deborah Holler traces the historic development of Iroquois beadwork and costume, which came to define the public image of “Indian-ness” around the world. Images are drawn from the collections of the Lewis Henry Morgan and Rochester museums, as well as private collections. These images also illuminate the contributions of the Iroquois to the textile arts, as well as the complex cultural exchange that defined the fashions of 19th century New York State.

Dr. Deborah Holler is a Lecturer and Mentor at Empire State College and teaches in Cultural Studies, Literature and the Arts. Her articles and creative writing have been published in regional and national magazines as well as academic journals. She has presented her lectures at national and international conferences, historical societies, and cultural events throughout New York State and is currently working on projects concerning the life and times of 19th century Seneca Caroline G. Parker Mountpleasant.

This program will be held at the Adirondack Lakes Center for the Arts at Blue Mountain Lake, and will begin at 1:30 p.m. For additional information, call (518) 352-7311, ext. 128 or visit www.adirondackmuseum.org.

Photo: Pincushion, typical of souvenir made for tourists by Eastern woodland Indians. From the collection of the Adirondack Museum.

NYS Museum Research in Archaeology Lectures


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Research findings on a 200-300-year-old skull found in a wall in Coeymans – the subject of recent news accounts – will be one of the topics discussed during a series of lectures on “Research in Archaeology” at the New York State Museum. The lectures will be held Wednesday through March 28 at 12:10 p.m. in the Huxley Theater. Lecture topics and dates are:

● March 14 – “Learning from Pottery.” Broken pieces of pottery, or sherds, are one of the most common artifacts recovered from archaeological sites younger than 3,000 years old. Dr. John P. Hart, director of the State Museum’s Research & Collections division, will
discuss recently completed research on sherds that provides information on how Native Americans interacted across what is now New York state.

● March 21 – “The Skull in the Wall: The Case of the Coeymans Lady.” The discovery of a human skull during repairs to the stone foundation at the historic Coeymans House in southern Albany County raised many questions about the person’s identity and manner of death.
Lisa Anderson, curator of bioarchaeology, will take a closer look at the skeletal evidence and historical context of the case.

● March 28 – “Cache and Carry: New Insights on Ice Age Technology of New York Paleoindians.” New York’s first people colonized the state at the end of the Ice Age. Ranging widely across New York and beyond, many have wondered how these hunter gatherers
created a portable stone technology compatible with their mobile way of life. Dr. Jonathan Lothrop, curator of archaeology, describes new insights from the study of a Paleoindian stone tool cache discovered in the upper Susquehanna Valley.

Founded in 1836, the State Museum is a program of the New York State Education Department’s Office of Cultural Education. Located on Madison Avenue in Albany, the Museum is open Monday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New
Year’s Day. Admission is free. Further information can be obtained by calling (518) 474-5877 or visiting the museum website at www.nysm.nysed.gov.

Photo: Coeymans House from LOC Historic American Building Survey Digital Collection.

Albany Institute Celebrates Mummy Collection


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The Albany Institute of History & Art will celebrate the 102nd anniversary of the Albany Mummies’ arrival with a Mummy Birthday Party on Sunday, November 6 from noon to 5 PM. This annual Family Festival is FREE with museum admission and will include Egyptian themed art activities, tours, and refreshments.

Learn the history of the mummies and ancient Egypt through guided tours of the Ancient Egypt exhibition at 1 PM and 3 PM. Children are invited to bring a toy to mummify in our art studio between 1 and 4 PM. Using hieroglyphics, participants can decorate cupcakes provided by The Placid Baker of Troy, NY.

The two mummies were brought to the Albany Institute from Cairo, Egypt in 1909 by Samuel W. Brown, a member of the museum’s Board of Trustees. The mummies and their coffins have been seen by generations of visitors and have become part of Albany history. They remain objects of ongoing international study, slowly unveiling clues about the ancient world in which they once lived. The Albany Institute will present a major exhibition on Egypt in 2013, The Mystery of the Albany Mummies, which will tell the full story of the mummies’ journey to Albany.

For more information about the Mummy Birthday Party contact Barbara Collins, Education Coordinator, at (518) 463-4478, ext. 405, collinsb@albanyinstitute.org.

Related Exhibition: Ancient Egypt Permanent Exhibition in the Egyptian Gallery

Three key concepts: “The Nile,” “Daily Life,” and “The Afterlife,” are explored through objects, text, and hands-on activities to give an overview of ancient Egypt. This gallery features the Albany Institute’s mummies, along with loan objects from major national museums.

Photo: Partially unwrapped mummy, male, Late Dynastic to Early Ptolemaic Period, (525-200 BC). Courtesy Albany Institute of History and Art.

Lake George Shipwrecks and Sunken History


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A new book, Lake George Shipwrecks and Sunken History, was published this spring by The History Press. Written by Joseph W. Zarzynski and Bob Benway, the book is a collection their columns previously published in the Lake George Mirror along with additional material. Zarzynski and Benway helped establish Bateaux Below, which works to preserve shipwreck sites in Lake George.

The depths of Lake George hold an incredible world of shipwrecks and lost history. Zarzynski and archeological diver Bob Benway present the most intriguing discoveries among more than two hundred known shipwreck sites. Entombed are remnants of Lake George’s important naval heritage, such as the 1758 Land Tortoise radeau, considered America’s oldest intact warship. Other wrecks include the steam yacht Ellide, and excursion boat Scioto, and the first Minne-Ha-Ha (including some new findings). Additional stories include an explanation behind the 1926 disappearance of two hunters, John J. Eden and L. D. Greene, of Middletown, and pieces on the lake’s logging history and marine railways.

Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers. Purchases made through this Amazon link help support this site.

Saratoga NHP to Study Hudson Floodplain


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The National Park Service (NPS) is conducting a study of lands of the Saratoga National Historical Park that lie within the Hudson River’s 100-year floodplain in Stillwater.

The study is part of the NPS’s ongoing evaluation of the Park’s archeological resources under the National Historic Preservation Act and will further the NPS’s work with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ensure that activities to clean up polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB)
contamination in the Hudson River’s sediments and floodplain minimize potential harm to, or loss of, historic materials and the context in which they are found.

An archeology team will evaluate the presence and significance of any artifacts or features and report findings to the public by 2013. If objects of cultural significance are recovered that relate to the Battles of Saratoga or the area’s early settlement, the park will try to place them on public display.

Because the study area may be contaminated with PCBs, staff conducting the study will be outfitted in personal protective gear and the public will not be able to enter work areas for their safety. For more information about the study, contact Charles Sullivan, Environmental Protection Specialist, Saratoga National Historical Park at 664.9821 ext. 235 or by email at, Charles_Sullivan@nps.gov

Saratoga National Historical Park is one of 396 national parks in the United States. For further information about the park and programs, please call (518) 664-9821 ext. 224 or check their website.

Searching For MacDonough’s War of 1812 Shipyard


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The Lake Champlain Maritime Museum has received a grant of $23,985 from the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program (ABPP) to undertake an archeological survey to determine the precise location and established boundaries for MacDonough’s War of 1812 Shipyard in Vergennes, Vermont.

“We are proud to support projects like this that safeguard and preserve American battlefields,” said Jon Jarvis, Director of the National Park Service. “These places are symbols of individual sacrifice and national heritage that we must protect so that this and future generations can understand the struggles that define us as a nation.”


This grant is one of25 National Park Service grants totaling $1.2 million to preserve and protect significant battle sites from all wars fought on American soil. Funded projects preserve battlefields from the Colonial­ Indian Wars through World War II and include site mapping (GPS/GIS data collection), archeological studies, National Register of Historic Places nominations, preservation and management plans.

Federal, state, local, and Tribal governments, nonprofit organizations, and educational institutions are eligible for National Park Service battlefield grants which are awarded annually. Since 1996 more than $12 million has been awarded by ABPP to help preserve significant historic battlefields associated with wars on American soil.

Additional information is online at www.nps.gov/history/hpslabpp. To find out more about how the National Park Service helps communities with historic preservation and recreation projects please visit www.nps.gov/communities.

Artist conception of MacDonough’s War of 1812 Lake Champlain Shipyard Workers by Kevin Crisman, LCMM Collection).

Historic Huguenot St Creates New Scholarship Fund


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In 1689, when the founders of New Paltz hired Jean Tebanin as the first schoolmaster in the small settlement, they set a precedent for the community. This focus on education continues today at Historic Huguenot Street (HHS) in both the programs and scholarships offered by the New Paltz organization.

Earlier this month, the organization received a bequest from Lucille Stoeppler Baker. The funds were given with the stipulation that they be used for scholarship assistance. Ms. Baker’s intent was to provide financial help to undergraduate students majoring in historical anthropology.

Dr. Baker, who held degrees from the College of St. Vincent, Fordham University and Cornell University, was devoted to the field of education. She served for twenty-four years as Professor of Sociology at Tompkins Cortland Community College in the Finger Lakes region of New York. She was awarded the college’s first Professor Emerita status in March 1993. The Dr. Lucille S. Baker Learning Commons on campus is named in her honor. Dr. Baker’s interest in Huguenot history grew from a friendship with Kenneth Hasbrouck, the long-time director of HHS, and members of the LeFevre Family Association. She is interred at the Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery.

The funds given by Dr. Baker will be used to create the Lucille Stoeppler Baker Memorial Scholarship Fund. With the creation of this fund, Historic Huguenot Street will now have five distinct scholarship funds. Scholarships are offered on an annual basis in collaboration with the Hasbrouck Family Association.

The deadline for scholarship applications is quickly approaching. Submissions must be received by August 31, 2011. More information and guidelines are available at www.huguenotstreet.org or by calling (845) 255-1660.

Schoharie Crossing to Host Mohawk Archaeology Talk


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Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site will host a lecture entitled “The Proof is in the Ground: Previous Archaeological Excavations at Schoharie Crossing” sponsored by the Friends of Schoharie Crossing and presented by Michael Roets, the Bureau of Historic Sites Archaeologist, responsible for ensuring the preservation of Archaeological resources at the 41 Historic Site and Historic Parks managed by the New York State Office of Parks and Historic Preservation. Continue reading

Champlain Maritime Museum Announces Changes


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The Lake Champlain Maritime Museum (LCMM) is undergoing its first change in leadership in the 26 years since it was founded. Art Cohn and LCMM’s Board of Directors have just unveiled their transition plan for the next years of leadership for LCMM.

This fall, Art Cohn, co-founder and executive director, will take on the new role of Senior Advisor and Special Projects Director, while Erick Tichonuk and Adam Kane, both longtime members of the museum staff, will ascend to the position of Co-Executive Directors.

Tichonuk will have primary responsibility for the fleet, museum programs and operations, while Kane will be Archaeological Director of LCMM’s Maritime Research Institute. They will work in tandem on the overall leadership of LCMM.

In a letter sent to community leaders, museum members and supporters, Cohn explained “Several years ago I began to ponder the prospect of transition, and I came to believe that passing leadership of the museum to the next generation was perhaps the most important responsibility I would have. Over the years, I have focused very hard on identifying and recruiting the best and brightest to the museum with the hope and expectation that the next generation of leaders would be among them. I am pleased to report that they were.”

Sandy Jacobs, LCMM Board Chair from 2006 to 2009, and Darcey Hale, incoming Board Chair who took office on May 1, elaborated: “The museum is what it is today because of the vision that Art Cohn and Bob Beach had 26 years ago, Art’s skillful leadership, his devotion to every aspect of the institution and, most of all, his passion for everything that relates to Lake Champlain. As many of you have so aptly stated, ‘Art is the Maritime Museum.’ Adam Kane and Erick Tichonuk have worked closely with Art for many years, helping to shape the values and the culture of the museum, and they have been thoughtful and thorough in their proposal for carrying forward the Museum’s mission and vision. We are confident that under their leadership the museum will continue to grow and to flourish.” “Two more talented, dedicated and thoughtful people you could not find,” Cohn declared, “I am so pleased for them and for the museum family.”

The announcement comes as the Maritime Museum prepares to launch into a typically busy “open” season. Kane is deploying teams of LCMM nautical archaeologists to fieldwork and consultations in Onondaga Lake and Lake George as well as Lake Champlain, while Tichonuk directs the installation of the museum’s new exhibits, readies the Philadelphia II and Lois McClure for the new season, and works with waterfront communities around the lake in anticipation of the schooner’s “Farm and Forest” tour this summer. In the months ahead, LCMM’s Board and leadership staff will also be engaged in a strategic planning process that will chart LCMM’s future course. “This is a wonderful opportunity for all of us to reach out and celebrate the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum – past, present and future,” Hale exclaims. “We are sincerely grateful to all of the many people who over the years have demonstrated their support, interest, and belief that LCMM plays a vital role in the history and well being of our region and far beyond.” Cohn concurs: “We have just celebrated LCMM’s twenty-fifth anniversary year, and this positive transition plan provides assurance that the museum will build upon its accomplishments and be even more productive in the years to come.”

Photo: LCMM Co-founder and Executive Director Art Cohn (center) with Erick Tichonuk (left) and Adam Kane, who will become Co-Executive Directors of Lake Champlain Maritime Museum in the fall.

11th Annual Algonquian Peoples Seminar


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The Native American Institute of the Hudson River Valley and The New York State Museum have announced the program for this year’s 11th Mohican/Algonquian Peoples Seminar to be held at the NYS Museum in Albany April 30, 2011.

This year’s featured topics will include: Archaeological Research on First Peoples of Eastern New York and the New England-Maritimes, Life’s Immortal Shell: Wampum as a Light and Life Metaphor, The 150th Anniversay of the Mohican Stockbridge-Munsee in the Civil War, Frank Speck on Penobscot and Iroquois Worldviews in the Cosmological Narratives, Investigation of the Vosburg Archaeological District, Growing up on the Reservation, Lithic reduction & resource use in southern New York State and the Stephentown Mounds


For a complete schedule and registration information email Mariann Mantzouris, Seminar Chairwoman at marimantz@aol.com or call 518-369-8116.

September Is Vermont Archaeology Month


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Events ranging from a canoeing trip to the site of an ancient Native American village to a lecture on the sinking and discovery of the Civil War ironclad U.S.S. Monitor are on tap during Vermont Archaeology Month.

The Vermont Archaeological Society and Vermont Division for Historic Preservation are presenting events around the state to celebrate the importance of archaeology to the state. Continue reading

Thomas Cole’s ‘New Studio’ Plans Revealed


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There will be a party at Thomas Cole’s home in Catskill with cocktails on the lawn followed by dinner at one of several magnificent river-front homes nearby on Saturday September 11, 6pm. The event is a fundraiser, and the newly completed architectural drawings for Thomas Cole’s “New Studio” will be unveiled. The building was designed by Cole and built in 1846, but was demolished in 1973. The original stone foundation has been unearthed, and the fascinating archaeological site will be on view. The evening includes a viewing of the current exhibition in the Main House, “Remember the Ladies: Women of the Hudson River School.” Tickets are $225 for the cocktail and dinner, or $70 for the cocktail party only.