Fall 2012 Archaeology Conference

Archaeological Society of Connecticut
Fall Meeting
Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center  Mystic, Connecticut
Saturday, October 13, 2012

Theme: Studies in Stone: Interpretations of Local Stone Features

Note: We would like to encourage attendees to come to the morning talks so that they will receive some archaeological and historical context for the later tour. These talks lay the groundwork for interpretations of the site. A registration fee will be charged at the site for those who choose to only take the tour. Carpooling from the DPNC has been requested due to the fact that parking at the Gungywamp site is very limited.

9:00 – 9:25  Registration begins (with coffee and doughnuts)
non-members (general public) $10; members (ASC, FOSA and DPNC) $8; students $5

9:25-9:30  Welcome, announcements – Dan Cruson, President, Archaeological Society of Connecticut

9:30-10:00  Dating the Gungywamp: a Proposal to Resolve the Question of the Irish Early Christian Provenience
Vance Tiede
Almost all artifacts and features of the Gungywamp site at Groton, CT are either of Native American or Puritan English Colonial origin (TPQ: Pequot War, 1634-1638 AD). Nevertheless, three independent classes of evidence are more consistent with pre-medieval Irish Early Christian monks (papar), ca. 500-1000 AD, viz.: Hiberno-Latin petroglyph; rectangular drywall oratory (chapel) architecture with a single window and a door oriented to the Equinox sunrise/sunset; and a 6th century calibrated 14C date for charcoal fragments excavated from below a stone mill race (Tiede, V. R. http://www.massarchaeology.org/esafprogram.html). In an attempt to resolve conclusively the dating of the above possibly pre-medieval European features at the Gungywamp, the following research design is proposed:
1) Forensic Geology: Derive relative dates of the granitic gneiss petroglyphs and worked  stone as a function of spectral reflectance of soft mineral (e.g. Biotite, Cholorite of Muscovite-Serecite) erosion compared to Colonial house foundation and tombstone control references (cf. http://kensingtonrunestone.us/html/rune_stone_3-d_study.html);
2) Paleoethnobotany: Test soil core samples for the presence of pollen and/or phytoliths from barley and/or wheat at pre-Colonial strata (cf. Johansen, Johannes. Studies in the Vegetational History of the Faroe and Shetland Islands. Torshavn: Faeroya Frodskaparfelag. 1985): and
3) Zooarchaeology: Test anaerobic clay cores for the presence of domestic animal hair at pre-Colonial strata (Tiede, V. R. “Identification Key of Selected Connecticut Mammal Dorsal Hair Cuticular Scales,” unpublished paper, Anthropology 72a, Yale University (1999; cf. “Research on Hair of Dog,” Mammoth Trumpet, 12:3 [July 1997] http://www.centerfirstamericans.vom/mammoth/issues/Volume-12/vol 12_num3.pdf)
Vance R. Tiede (Astro-Archaeological Surveys) holds a MA (Archaeological Studies), from Yale University and BA (History) from Johns Hopkins University. He served as research assistant to the late Dr. Gerald S.  Hawkins and is a member of the ASC and HAD/AAS. Vance’s current research interests include GIS and remote sensing applications for determining astronomical orientation of ancient monumental  architecture, worldwide: e.g.: http://www.ciuhct.com/seac2001/docs/Abstract-Book-4_SEAC2011.pdf (p. 32); http://www.astropa.unipa.it/INSAPIII/Abstracts/Tiede.htm; and http://lib.muohio.edu/multifacet/record/mu3ugb232451 (Appendix J).

10:00-10:30  A Folkloric Approach to Alternative Archaeology
Wade Tarzia, Naugatuck Valley Community College
Alternative-science groups are partly a folkloristic behavior, and I’ll explore some ways in  which folklore can assist the understanding of such groups. My working hypothesis states that oral and literary tradition is sometimes evident in the communications of such groups. Here I mean tradition in the folkloristic sense – a set of ideas common to a folk-group, or a worldview, existing as a language recognized in the folk-group. I will focus on alternative archaeologists – usually amateurs but also some professionals in different fields  – who promote a popular and romantic conception of hyper-diffusionism even against scientific evidence to the contrary. I will also relate two sets of personal experiences, one collecting folklore in Ireland to relate this “traditional” form of investigation to the study of alternative science, and the second from the famous alternative archaeology site, Mystery Hill (aka America’s Stonehenge) as it relates to the issues of studying such groups objectively.
Wade Tarzia earned his Ph.D. in English by focusing on anthropological approaches to medieval epic. He is also interested in contemporary Irish folklore of archaeological sites as it relates to ethnic identity (with some application to the issues of identity in alternative archaeology). He teaches a Naugatuck Valley Community College in Waterbury.

10:30-11:00  Gift of Stones: a Mohegan Perspective of the Ceremonial Stone Landscape
Elaine Thomas, Mohegan tribal member
This Paper will explore some of the questions that are often asked as to who built the enigmatic stone structures that are visible across the landscape, and for what purpose. Although stone structures were built by Europeans for farming, there is documentation that stone features were encountered earlier on the landscape by the English in what today is southern New England. We will explain why these altered/moved stones are important to contemporary Native Americans just as they were to the ancestors, and why they are still important in today’s modern world. The Mohegan Tribe is committed to its role as stewards of the land, the traditions that are part of that stewardship and the preservation of the stones that are on the Sacred Ceremonial Landscape. This paper will in addition discuss methods being used in preserving the past, and the need to sometimes look at the past to gain a better understanding of the present. The goal is that we can then give what has been learned, while at the same time being saved, so the future and all generations to come.
Elaine Thomas
is a Mohegan tribal member and grew up in Uncasville, Connecticut, on the border of the original Mohegan Reservation. Today she works for the Mohegan Tribal Government as the Archaeology Program Coordinator and Deputy THPO. She has assisted in archaeological investigation on lands that are important to her tribe as well as Mohegan Reservation lands, including Ford Shantok which is considered one of the most important archaeological sites in Connecticut.

11:00-11:30  What was Sacrificed on the “Sacrificial Table” at Mystery Hill? A Convergence of Evidence
Kenny Feder, Central Connecticut State University
Hypothesis testing in the historical sciences relies on what authors Michael Shermer and Alex Grobman call “a convergence of evidence.” Whether we’re talking about holocaust denial (the focus of their book), the pre-Clovis settlement of North America, or transatlantic  visits to the New World before Columbus, researchers rely on multiple, independent channels of evidence converging on the same explanation to support a particular hypothesis. In the example presented here, I’ll assess the converging evidence for the object called “The Sacrificial Table” located at the Mystery Hill site in New Hampshire. Though the name given the stone by the owners suggests its use in blood-soaked pagan rituals, multiple, independent avenues of evidence support the conclusion that, not Celtic virgins but, instead, apples were sacrificed on what was, not a sacrificial altar, but a cider press bedstone.Ken Feder obtained his B.A. in anthropology in 1973 from the State University of New York at Stonybrook. He obtained he M.A. in anthropology in 1975 from the University of Connecticut and his Ph.D. from the same institution in 1982. He has taught in the Department of Anthropology at Central Connecticut State University since 1977 where he is a full professor. His primary research interests include the archaeology of native peoples of New England and the analysis of public perceptions about the human past. He is the founder and director of the Farmington River Archaeological Project, a long-term investigation of the prehistory of the Farmington River Valley.
He is author and co-author of several books including: A Village of Outcasts: Historical Archaeology and Documentary Research at the Lighthouse Site (Mayfield Publishing, 2004); Human Antiquity: An Introduction to Physical Anthropology and Archaeology (with Michael Park; now in its fifth edition; McGraw-Hill, 2007); Frauds, Myths, and Mysteries: Science and Pseudoscience in Archaeology (now in its seventh edition; McGraw-Hill, 2011); The Past in Perspective: An Introduction to Human Prehistory (now in its fifth edition; Oxford University Press, 2011); Linking to the Past: A Brief Introduction to Archaeology (now in its second edition; Oxford University Press, 2008); and the newly published Encyclopedia of Dubious Archaeology (Greenwood, 2010). When he’s not digging in the dirt or writing books, he likes to hang-out with his one wife, two kids, and three very bad cats.

11:30-1:00  Lunch (On your own – it is strongly suggested that attendees brown-bag it; limited food suggestions will be provided.)

1:00-1:30  Travel time to Gungywamp Site
(Directions to the site will be provided at the DPNC after morning talks  and          carpooling arrangements.)

1:30-3:30  Tour of the Gungywamp Site
Paulette Buchanan
(Note: The Gungywamp tour is not handicap accessible. We have been informed that the walk to the site is at least 1 mile along a rough, rocky trail. Appropriate footwear is advised.)
Paulette Buchanan’s tours of the Gungywamp  emphasize the historical background that has been uncovered over the years, and highlights the similarities the Gungywamp has with other Native American, colonial and early American sites. Because there have been so many controversial theories abounding about the Gungywamp and other similar sites, those theories are included (as truly bizarre and totally unfounded as they are) as they have become part of the history of the place.
Paulette Buchanan started digging with the Gungywamp Society back in the late 1980’s, and assisted in giving tours of the site with Nick Bellantoni in the 1990’s. For the last 12 years she has given tours of the Gungywamp, including to groups involving Nick Bellantoni, Kevin McBride, Ken Feder and others. Paulette has her M.A. in history and has worked in education since the 1980’s. For the last four years she has been a volunteer for Nick Bellantoni and organized the Doug Jordan book collection. About three years ago she assisted Nick with the donation of the Gungywamp artifacts to the Mashantucket Museum, and the site documentation, in addition to helping out from time to time with artifact identification and cataloging.

3:30-4:30  Reception (wine and cheese) Tentative