Seneca Iroquois White Springs

Topics: Archaeology, Magnetometer, Excavation Pages: 7 (1953 words) Published: April 6, 2013
JR Benedict
Nov 20, 2012

“Understanding the built environment at the Seneca Iroquois White Springs Site using large-scale multi-instrument archaeogeophysical surveys”.

The field of landscape archaeology can be challenging in the way that it conducts itself. Most of the time the sites are obstructed by vegetation or they may be hidden in a farmer’s plowed field. However the surveying of these places do to their size and proximity to any adjacent constraints can often lead to poor performance of the archaeological standards. The sizes of these sites can sometimes be as large as settlements covering acres of land. However archaeologists have now been using a surveying method that employs the use of multi-instrument geophysical scanning. Using this the archaeologist can help maintain budget and time constraints that may have been restricting progress. The Seneca settlement at (1688-1715 CE) the White Springs Site located in Geneva, NY is a site that covers a settlement size estimate of 1.42-2.75 ha. This paper reports on approximately five hectares of high-resolution, multi-instrument archaeogeophysical surveys. This information allowed the archaeologist to study the layered, temporal contexts of these maps; which allowed for visual survey without accessing the site physically. Using documents, excavation, and archaeogeophysics to understand a historic Iroquois site. Limited excavation required non- invasive survey methods. Five hectares of ground-penetrating radar and magnetometer survey exposed Seneca-era features. The settlement was likely palisaded and tightly packed, related to military pressure of the time. (Gerald-Little et al. July 2012) One of the significant questions at White Springs relates to settlement layout and the possibility of a defensive palisade. Consideration of the social and cultural context in which White Springs was constructed contributes to better understanding of the choices that Seneca may have made in the process of constructing the town, as well as providing guidelines for archaeogeophysical interpretation. (Alexander, 1998 p. 485) Between 1688 and 1715 the White Springs was the main community for the eastern Seneca Iroquois. This settlement is thought to have been established to reinforce the survival of the Seneca after a period of warfare with the French in 1687. Careful examination of the archaeological database and documentary sources have suggested that after the Denonville invasion multiple Seneca communities consisting of two principal towns (Ganondagan and Rochester Junction), at least two local satellite villages (including the Beal and Kirkwood sites), and three Seneca communities on the north shore of Lake Ontario (the Ganestiquiagon, Teiaiagon, and Quinaouatoua sites) united together into two large towns at the White Springs and Snyder-McClure sites (Jordan, 2010, pp. 98-100; Konrad, 1981; Poulton, 1991; Wray, 1983). White Springs was formed to gather a larger number of people so that a greater defensive support system could be established. With this in mind it can be predicted that a defensive palisade would have built at the site. Historical and comparative research suggests the range of shapes that might have been used. Both Polygonal and ovoid palisades are seen at Iroquois sites before the extensive interaction with colonists. Oval shaped palisade seem to be the primary forms from 1000-1300CE and the Polygonal palisades 1560-1575CE(Wray et al., 1987). Both forms were used throughout the Iroquoian people. Several excavations have been able to determine that palisades were constructed by twisting pointed posts into the subsoil (Ritchie and Funk, 1973, p. 303) and large posts were not buried immediately next to each other but interwoven with smaller branches (Heidenreich, 1971; Keener, 1999; Ritchie and Funk, 1973). Although the Iroquois...
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