Archeology Experts Meeting
Principles and Concepts of Protecting and Managing Cultural Resources: Tom Mahlstedt
In 22 mile upper
Archeology is a subfield of Anthropology and as such is concerned with human behavior, in this case past human behavior. Archaeologists study past behavior by analyzing the association and relationship – the patterning – of tools and implements and other aspects of material cultural that former peoples left behind. Archaeological resources are extremely subtle and fragile and easily disturbed by anything that modifies the ground surface.
Prehistoric Archaeology covers the period from 12,000 – 500 years ago: it focuses on peoples who had not developed writing and
had no written records. The beginning of
this era was shortly after the glaciers had left
No fewer that 40 prehistoric
sites document the existence of Native Americans on the
Historical Archaeology focuses on the physical remains of activities from the time when Europeans first made contact with the local Native Americans about 500 years ago and runs almost to the present. Historical archaeology, as its name implies, deals with literate societies whose documentary sources can themselves provide a data base for identification of artifacts and features, as well as for the interpretation of the behavior patterns that created them. Thorough archival research (probate records, deeds, title historic maps and Atlases) can often be nearly as important as the actual process of excavation at historic sites.
Historic archaeological sites, like their prehistoric counterparts, are not easily generalized. Their form, size and manner in which they were created differs greatly: they may have resulted from domestic personal, or household activities, or from commercial, industrial, agricultural, or military activities and they may be in, or were in, urban or rural settings.
Industrial Archaeology is a specialized sub-field of historical archaeology, which focuses on the remains of American industry. Industrial archaeologists study the remains of buildings which housed commercial and manufacturing activities, or related structures and features such as canals, bridges and roadways. Machinery, which represent both the mechanisms by which products were made, as well as the by-product of the technological process itself, as well as the lives of the workers who used them, are among the artifacts and topics studied by Industrial Archaeologists..
In the face of increasing development there is an incentive to preserve a representative selection of obsolete industrial activities, since industry is of itself a significant part of this country's heritage. Industrial archaeologists provide technical information on specific aspects of obsolete processes which can be obtained from no other sources.
In the last 25 years, archeological resources have been threatened as never before. They are destroyed by construction, residential development, strip malls, industrial parks, utilities, buildings, boat houses, roads and even small projects such as fences and signage. The small pockets of open space that we are able to set aside have become the sanctuary for our cultural resources, just as they are for natural resources. Only with proper foresight and planning can we preserve significant areas.
III. Protection Strategies
On the books, there has been legislation for preservation of historic resources for years. However, agencies—both state and federal—have a checkered record of preservation. Not only do we have a legal responsibility, we have a moral and ethical responsibility to protect our heritage. These sites are our communal heritage, our Common Wealth. Once these sites are destroyed, we cannot get them back.
The mission of Cultural resource Protection and Management should be included in the Wild & Scenic management strategies. A properly designed resource management plan will let us know what to preserve. It should be based on research and inform us what to preserve, by indicating where it is located, what its condition is, what its size and function was, and how important it is. This information is critical to determining what should be preserved, and help to prioritize sites for protection.
At DEM and MDC, we have found that good natural resource protection goes hand in hand with archaeology protection. Many of the important historic areas are close to water bodies and are protected by the wetlands act, the rivers act as well as by open space protection.
The principle strategies that communities have include: This section reports on both Tom’s comments and those of the participants:
(1) Massachusetts Historical Commission (MHC): should any project entail disturbance of soil, the MHC should review the project. If you suspect that a project will impact a significant cultural resource, call the MHC. MHC can require filing a Public Notification Form (PNF) to determine if a project is significant. MHC has 30 statutory days to review permits and they have the ability to require additional information and get an additional 30 days. MHC can require mitigation.
(2) Where ever federal or state money is involved, or a Corps of Engineers permit is required, a PNF must be filed with the MHC (Note because it is a federal program and Army Corps permits are required for work adjacent the river it is automatically a Section 106 Review process). For us s. 106 is an ally because of the higher degree of scrutiny that is involved.
(3) Because even visitor uses and small projects can harm archeological sites (fence posts, benches, tree planting) we need to have alternative uses for significant areas. For example we can have benches placed on the ground (and not dug into the soil) and signs on trees and not on posts inserted in the ground. At one point in time, Native Americans buried the dead in the fetal positions, planting a tree or signpost with cement could destroy the site.
In assessing the
potential impacts of proposed projects to archaeological resources we can
develop a model of sensitivity using site location criteria: statistically we know that sites are likely
to be within 1000 feet of fresh water, on slopes less than 5%, and on well
drained soils. When you put the three
factors together, you can identify areas of high archeological significance. When work in done in these areas we need to
use the gentlest, softest and kindest means possible. Regardless of how large or small the proposed
project is, until proven otherwise, we need to consider that the project will
cause damage. Often by testing and
researching the site ahead of time, the proponent saves both time and
money. Examples given included the
(4) There are
some communities that have instituted proactive planning. For example
(5)Middleborough Planning Director has mapped the significant areas.
Tom reiterated that at the basis of archeological work is the understanding that once a site it is gone is gone forever. Archaeological sites are unique records of past behavior, once destroyed they are ruined. As we move ahead, we should develop resource plans, conservation restrictions, tools of environmental projection and work on strategies to implement the program. Tom offered to work with us to develop language for our plan and to work to find unique opportunities for protection.
Bill said that
excellent sites in
Major findings in
This 1 ˝ mile stretch probably served as a base camp for outlying areas. Bill has collected 10,000 pieces over the past 60 years. Ralph Nickerson had a collection of 2000 pieces from the Titicut area.
Raynham: Small sites along the river and southwest
Good natural resources drew the early Native Americans here. Bill has found the following today and extrapolating back, assumes that the resources were here then in similar or larger abundances:
Good surveys by Camp Dresser McKee on the upper river when they were researching the Upper River Diversion. Brian Reed provided especially good information from Route 104 to Route 24.
9000-8000 BP (Before Present). Bill found bifurcated points, early archaic
Dalton Points, Parallel Stem Points, which are very rare in
8000-6000 BP. Bill found many Neville and Stark Points.
Bill said that
4300 BP. The presence of small stem was very strong at Titicut
3700 - 2700 BP. Evidence of the Susquannna tradition.
Bill found a cremation burial at the Seaver Farm as
well as axes, pestles, celts. Bones were put in secondary burials near
creation. They found also points from NY
state made of chert or
flints. There were
2000-1000 BP. Bill found a variety of points—Meadowood, Jack’s Reef, Greene, Fox Creek.
1000-400 BP. Bill found many Levanna and Madison Triangles.
400-150 BP. Bill found copper items, bone points embedded in charcoal, sharks teeth, gunflints (mostly English, some French), musket balls. One of the graves had glass beads. Iron tools appear probably obtained from the colonists through trade or land sales.
Important sites were also found along the
Matfield & Hockomock Rivers
including Snows Brook in
Bill feels that
the major sites in the upper
Questions and Answers
1) In your
opinion, is the archeology an outstandingly remarkable value in the
(Tom) There is an unusually high site density of archeology findings. Something was going on here in the mainstem basin and in the tributary streams. There was obviously an enormous natural resource base here. Even though flora and fauna changed over time, instead of leaving, Native Americans adapted their tools kits and stayed. The food sources must have been excellent. They didn’t have to travel for food. Something was special here. The Native Americans stayed from 9000 to historic times.
(Bill) The variety of points are unheard of. There is something significant here. It is a very important part of the landscape that is important for us today.
2) Is this a place where farming took hold in Native American Life?
There are signs
3) How can we protect the sites through education.
Many new people are moving in and they have no connection to the land and to our history.
Education can be one way. The Wild and Scenic management plan could recommend bylaws similar to Somerset, sites could be identified by Planning boards, Conservation Commissions, Zoning Boards of Appeals. We could use tools that we use for protecting our natural resources: conservation restrictions, purchase, transfer of development rights.
4) What do we do when we know that developers destroy sites rather than go through paper work?
Model bylaws on earth removal could include a trigger for depths which could help with archeology.
We all agreed that all our outstanding remarkable values come together affecting each other. The river resources-- biodiversity, herring and fisheries-- brought people to our rivers leaving behind archeology and history and today provide great recreational opportunities.
Notes by Joan Kimball
Reviewed by Tom Mahlstedt and Bill Taylor