Guide The Archaeological Northeast (Native Peoples of the Americas)

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The results are exciting, if a bit unsurprising, says Connie Mulligan, an anthropologist at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

Native American societies before contact - Period 1: 1491-1607 - AP US History - Khan Academy

Archaeological records suggest the ancestors of these individuals moved into modern-day Alaska and the Canadian Arctic about years ago, but how they relate to modern groups remains a mystery. The scientists analyzed the genomes of 48 ancient individuals from sites in the North American Arctic and Siberia dating from between about to years ago. They then compared their DNA to those of other modern and ancient Indigenous people across northern North America and looked for patterns in shared ancestry and language families.

This tangled family tree underpins the ancestry of modern speakers of indigenous Na-Dene and Eskimo-Aleut languages. By Catherine Matacic Sep. By Jeffrey Mervis Sep. All rights Reserved. Got a tip? Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, Colorado. Mason Cummings, The Wilderness Society.

The Antiquities Act was first signed into law by President Theodore Roosevelt and has been used on a bipartisan basis by 16 presidents since then including President Barack Obama. It is likely that some of these special places would have been obscured by development—or demolished entirely—without this law and the strong movement to preserve public lands that it exemplifies. Home to countless important Native American archaeological and cultural sites, they have recently fallen prey to vandalism, reckless off-road vehicle use and other destructive behavior.

In November, let's take a look at some places that preserve traces of Native American culture that are hundreds or even thousands of years old, and think of the spots that still need to be protected. At that point, Mesa Verde had been vacant for hundreds of years. Experts think the last Puebloan residents of the area were forced out when a booming population eventually exhausted natural resources and was torn apart by internal strife.

This relatively young age is in contrast to other parts of the world or even the Southwestern United States where they are likely much older. Most petroglyphs in Pennsylvania are similar stylistically to Algonquian art found throughout the Northern mid-west, Northeast, and into Canada. The bodies of petroglyphs east of the Allegheny Mountains tend to be fully-carved, while sites to the west include bodies that are carved in outline and sometimes even have designs carved within the bodies.

Chapter 3: Resources and Their Distribution | Native Peoples of North America

Two remarkable exceptions to the general style are the Walnut Island and the Bald Friar sites, which are above and below the Algonquian-like petroglyphs at Safe Harbor on the Lower Susquehanna. Many designs at these two sites are unlike any others in the region. Along the Allegheny River, Indian God Rock, below Franklin in Venango County, and the Parkers Landing petroglyph further south are some of the most interesting examples of petroglyphs in the Commonwealth.

These contain many naturalistic designs and both sites contain spectacular supernatural - part human, part animal figures. The so-called "Water Panther" at Parkers Landing is a spectacular rendition of a common image in the Algonquian belief system.

Pre-Clovis cultures

Many of the petroglyph sites on the Lower Susquehanna River are now submerged in lakes behind the dams on that part of the river. Many of the petroglyphs there were salvaged for preservation by the Pennsylvania Historical Commission in the 's, which for the most part destroyed the site.

The Walnut Island designs are very abstract compared to the more naturalistic designs at other Pennsylvania sites, and although in no way related, in some ways resemble characters like those in Chinese writing. Many of the petroglyphs on the island had been buried by many feet of soil.

In the area below just below Safe Harbor Dam the largest concentration of petroglyphs in the Northeastern United States still survives. In the 's petroglyphs were discovered on several other rocks in the vicinity, and in the Conejohela Chapter 28, Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology systematically recorded more than petroglyphs on seven rocks along this stretch of the river. These petroglyphs consist of naturalistic designs of humans, animals, and their tracks as well as more supernatural depictions of human and animal-like imagery, and other conventionalized symbolic designs circles, dots, etc.

The Bald Friar petroglyph sites, just south of the Pennsylvania-Maryland border, are now under water impounded by the Conowingo Dam. These sites are characterized by carvings of concentric circles, "sun bursts", "stick figure trees", and peculiar "mask" or "stylized fish" designs.

Only one petroglyph site has been recorded on the Delaware River. The Jennings Petroglyph is a large rock containing more than 30 carvings that was found on the New Jersey side of the river across from Dingmans Ferry, Pike County. In it was removed to Seton Hall University to save it from being covered by the lake that was to be formed behind the Tocks Island Dam - a dam that was never built.

Its designs resemble the imagery found at the Safe Harbor sites. Petroglyphs are a form of symbolic communication and their message was important. We now know that they are not a form of prehistoric graffiti as was widely believed in the past. For Native Americans to carve in rock with stone tools required too much effort to be done without serious intention.

Archaeologists dig Native American fort found in Connecticut

These locations were probably important, possibly sacred, places prior to the placement of the images. The petroglyphs probably formalized and verified their significance in the cosmology of Native American belief systems.

Petroglyph Locations

The petroglyphs conveyed information - perhaps describing tribal boundaries, hunting grounds, or served to describe the people who lived in or passed through the region. The prominent riverside petroglyphs such as Big Indian Rock in the Susquehanna River and Indian God Rock along the Allegheny River are perhaps plausible examples of the boundary marker theory. That said, there are many which are not obviously evident and must have had other functions. Certain symbols are common on Native American petroglyphs in Pennsylvania.

Naturalistic designs include humans, animals and birds, their footprints and tracks. Other, more symbolic designs include circles, spirals, and dots cupules , as well as figures that can be described as human or animal-like but changed anthropomorphic or zoomorphic , or even part animal, part human. Still other designs represent conventionalized religious, mythological, or supernatural symbols utilized throughout a large geographic and cultural area, such as manifestations of the Algonquian "Great Spirit" or Manitou - Thunderbirds Pinasiwuk , Bear Makwa , Wolf Myeengun , Great Lynx, or Water Panther Mishipizheu , or Horned Snake Ginebik.

There were many different Native American groups in Pennsylvania and their belief systems varied considerably. The meaning of a symbol to one group may have been very different to another group and some tribes may not have used petroglyphs at all.


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Petroglyph sites were almost certainly sacred places where people came to communicate with the supernatural. Some sites may have been places where medicine men, community, or spiritual leaders went to meditate to receive visions or guidance to lead or heal their people. Some of the symbols may have had special significance for hunting or fishing or for solving family or tribal problems. Further, some may have served as "teaching rocks".

Young people may have been brought to these places to learn about their culture and the world around them - similar to religious classes that are conducted all over the world today.