Occurrence. The major sources for early cultural material on this site are two: middens and shallow subsurface pits where in situ relations were occasionally noted, and the surface of the general area. Where possible, the depth of subsurface finds from present land surfaces was recorded. Artifacts from the beach were classed with surface finds; undoubtedly some surface finds had derived ultimately from features beneath the soil as a natural result of plowing and erosion. The list of artifacts found (Appendix, Table 1) makes plain the distinction between surface and subsurface finds. Surface finds were restricted entirely to artifacts of stone, shell, and pottery. About thirty subsurface features were found, but not all were distinct. Indeed, some were only shallow deposits of shells and blackened earth a few inches thick. Hardly definable in shape or extent, they bespoke human origin but little else. They were usually devoid of cultural material.
v:shapes="_x0000_s1026">General deposits. Recognizable deposits included a midden paralleling the shore along the first rise of land (Fig. 2). It lay adjacent to that portion of the site which has yielded the most material to date. Averaging perhaps less than 2 inches in thickness, this midden straggled along for upwards of 75 to 100 yards, with a width probably in excess of 15 yards. Whole areas within these bounds, however, were almost destitute of artifacts; and only the trace of shell particles, fire-burned stones, and occasional animal bones justified the term “midden." Perhaps plowing very long ago had disturbed and scattered portions of the original deposit to give it this character. As stratification was not always sharply defined, it was hard to decide if disturbance had actually occurred. Very little cultural material was recovered from excavation in this midden. A 4-foot square test pit in the southerly extremity was excavated to a depth of about 10 inches.
Designated Feature 13 (Fig. 2, .50N/.25W), it revealed a shell layer from 2 to 4 inches thick and overlain by about 5 inches of undisturbed topsoil. The layer extended in every direction to an undetermined limit. A quartz end scraper (Fig. 8, 26) was all that was recovered here; the exact depth was not noted. To date this has been one of the hardest portions of the site to work; more research on it is planned for the future.
In addition to the midden, a shell layer right on the water and at the far southern end of the site, deserves special mention. This has been designated Feature 18 (shell layer at 26.58S/4.75W). An irregular layer from an inch to several inches thick; it lay just beneath the present surface and was apparently mostly undisturbed. Originally it must have covered an area about 60 square feet in extent but erosion had greatly reduced this when I first noticed it. No cultural material was recovered from the layer save as follows: A broken flake of greenish stone suggests working. Grains of charcoal and a few animal bones were intermingled with the shells and black, organic soil. At the northern extremity, the layer weathered out onto a bedrock outcrop right at the water's edge. Here reddened and friable stone evidenced former heating and burning. The outstanding find was a number of clam (Mercenaria mercenaria) shells all bearing notching along their outer perimeters. This notching occurred after several fashions. Some valves had notches at either end of the shell. These possibly suggest some form of hafting for the shell. Other valves had one or several notches anywhere along the outer rim. The range in width for these notches was quite large: from not more than 1 inch wide up to 2 inches wide and over. All 4 were rather symmetrical and showed definite wear or rubbing marks at the notch bases on the outer, curved backs of the valves. Quite a few of these shells were recovered both in this layer and in one similar on a nearby offshore island.
Probably about 20 or so were reclaimed in all; three of which are illustrated (Fig. 3). It is known that gulls and other sea birds will drop clams on rock-strewn beaches to break the valves and get the animal inside. I have observed this curious habit myself - indeed, at this very site. The symmetry and smoothness of the notching on the shells, however, eliminates any possibility that gulls might have been responsible. This was confirmed by a check with an ornithologist.31 Consequently, a problematic artifact, to the best of my knowledge never before reported for the coastal Northeast, seems now to be established. One prominent archeologist 32 has suggested their use in "peeling poles." Smith 33 mentions 'worn shell fragments' in his trait table for East River sites, but lists only four specimens as the total number recovered from nearly all components of the aspect taken together. This is at marked variance with the quantity in which I noted them at the IF site. It is my opinion that more than one type of tool is present here. The valves with the opposed notching (either end) usually have small notches and I have previously suggested hafting for these. Sometimes several small notches close together suggest multiple sinew dressers or shaft smoothers. The large-arc notches may be 'pole-peelers" or shaft smoothers of some sort.
Pits. The other subsurface deposits consist of pits. These range from shallow features little more than mere depressions containing isolated bunches of shells and stones, to bowl-shaped pits usually about 4 feet in diameter and 3 feet deep. These latter correspond closely, except as to artifacts, to the second kind of pit described by Smith34 for the Clasons Point Focus as “containing stained soil, broken and whole shells, cracked stones and bones, and a wide variety of artifacts." These were common at the Clasons Point site west of here. The pits at the IF site occur near to the midden area and with decreasing frequency inland. Several of the more noteworthy to be excavated are described below. Their contents and the stratigraphic distributions of the latter are given where known.
Feature 1 (Fig. 2, 2N/4W). Approximately 3.5 feet in diameter and 20 inches deep, this deposit lay in a plowed field and was disturbed to a depth of about 7 inches. The pit was irregularly circular. It contained a heterogeneous collection of marine shells, broken and split animal bones, small grains of charcoal, and several pieces of scraped and worked tortoise shell (Fig. 4), probably representing a broken carapace dish. This came from near the bottom. Just the tip of a quartz projectile point was recovered near the minus 12-inch level. We found no pottery, but there were some large stones, not reddened by fire. From its appearance it was never the site for a fire, though it did contain charcoal grains.
Feature 2 (Fig. 2, 5N/4.5W). About 3.5 feet in diameter and 30 inches deep, this pit also was disturbed by plowing to about 7 inches. Both broken and whole clam and oyster shells were present, along with scattered animal bone fragments and charcoal grains. Near the minus 12-inch level lay a pottery pipe fragment (Fig. 7, 1).
Feature 5 (Fig. 2, 4.75N/5W). This pit measured about 4 feet in diameter and was nearly 38 inches deep. It had a U-shaped, bowl-like vertical profile. The surface had been disturbed by plowing, and on it, before excavating, we noted a broken quartz flake. At the minus 9-inch level, 28 potsherds were removed near the northern edge of the pit. Of this group, we can identify 2 rim sherds of Van Cortlandt Stamped ware (Fig. 5, 11, 12) and 17 body sherds probably from the same vessel. These sherds had been cord-marked but later smoothing all but obliterated traces of the malleating tool. Also in this same group of sherds, were 7 body sherds of cord-marked pottery without pronounced later smoothing. Their paste is darker than in the other sherds and they probably represent another vessel. All sherds appear to be East River types. From minus 23 to minus 29 inches came fragments of deer jaws 35 with teeth intact, the lower jaw and teeth of a grey fox pup, and miscellaneous teeth and bone fragments of other animals, along with charcoal and organic material not yet identified but preserved through charring. Both reddened and non-reddened stones were haphazardly present in the lower portion of the pit. The soil beneath the pit bottom had a fired appearance.
Feature 8 (Fig. 2, 6N/12W). Rather elongate in a north-south direction, this pit was 5 feet in extent and about 18 inches deep. Broken valves of oyster, clam, and scallop were noted along with the usual charcoal grains, bone fragments, and quartz chips. Broken and unbroken fieldstones occurred at random in the pit. At minus 10 inches in the southerly end, we found a rather nice rim sherd of a Bowmans Brook Stamped vessel (Fig. 5, 10). The size of the sherd raised hopes that more of the vessel would be forthcoming but none was located. What makes it particularly interesting even though it is but a single specimen, is the strong Owasco-like nature of the style. Near the other end of this deposit at this same level, was a reddish-orange sherd (Fig. 5, 9) which appears to be a portion of a collar and bears a design suggestive of Van Cortlandt Stamped. This sherd has diagonal rows of edge-paddle cord marks just below the lip inside the rim. A third sherd (Fig. 5, 13) bears traits indicative of Bowmans Brook Stamped and is possibly a variant. The lower half shows cord markings below the decoration.
Twelve fragmentary grit-tempered sherds show cord markings, and are otherwise similar to the preceding sherds. Two other body sherds are cord-marked, buff-colored, and similar to the first rim sherd in makeup. An amorphous lump of clay is probably accidentally fired waste. All sherds occurred mainly on a level with the diagnostic East River rim sherds described. A few occurred a little below this; but as they bear marked resemblance to the others, it seems clear they probably belong to one of two or three different vessels whose fragments occurred in this pit and share the same provenience.
Feature 14 (Fig. 2, 10.75N/6.75W). This find was overlain by nearly 18 inches of black, organic topsoil thinly charged with shell fragments. There was no surface indication of a pit at this spot; the feature was discovered solely by chance drilling. While the overburden of topsoil was disturbed and included fragments of modern glassware and other trash, the pit itself was not disturbed. It had a peculiar vertical profile (Fig. 6) terminating at the top in a peak. The top inch or two of shells was reduced to very small pieces while the bulk of the shells in the pit were as usually noted in such features. The thickness of the overburden made the actual surface of the pit quite deep and was somewhat unusual.36 The diameter of the pit was 48 inches, the total depth 47 inches. Since, however, the overlying topsoil was 18 inches thick, the pit was actually some 29 inches deep. No pottery was recovered above minus 20 inches. Thirty-three cord-marked body sherds with "East River-like" paste were found between minus 20 and minus 37 inches. These sherds were fairly evenly distributed throughout this zone. All have smooth interiors and vary from grey to reddish; they give the impression of being from one vessel. One has been drilled for a lacing thong (Fig. 7, 4). Seven body sherds smooth on both interior and exterior surfaces are "East River-like" in paste. With one exception they are dark grey inside and light buff on the exterior. They also occurred in this same zone.
Two sherds from this same level appear to be cord-marked, but under low magnification they show impressions that might have been left by a very loosely woven fabric with about a 1/8th-inch mesh. At the intersections of this mesh, twined (or plaited) fibers in one strand seem to be spread to allow those running in the other direction to pass through the opening. There is no knotting at the intersections. 37 The two sherds -both body sherds - are reddish-buff, grit-tempered and compact. Another sherd from this zone is shell-tempered, shows the lighter hue of being fired in an oxidizing atmosphere, and has parallel markings from the edge of a cord-wrapped paddle. Whether the interior is brushed or merely wiped with a rough substance is hard to determine. A tiny rim sherd was found here showing two vertical, parallel markings from the edge of a cord-wrapped paddle. Another, reddish sherd is cord-marked on the exterior right up to the lip. That has impressions of the edge of a cord-wrapped paddle stamped at an angle across it. The lip flares slightly and is flattened. Seven sherds from this zone are too badly spalled and deteriorated to permit analysis. Near minus 32 inches, a triangular quartz projectile point (Fig. 8, 4) was found. Also recovered near the center of the pit were two splinter awls (Fig. 7, 24, 26), one with a polished tip; other projectile point fragments; an antler tine wedge tool (Fig. 7, 23); a worked scrap of bone (Fig. 7, 22); and noncultural material including fish bones, broken, charred, and whole mammal bones, charred nutshell fragments, the usual clam, oyster, and scallop valves, and shells of the not-too-common whelk, marine snail, mussel, and Arca.
Feature 15. This pit was located about 20 feet east and 8 feet south of the previous one (Fig. 2). It was similar in size and content, though not situated quite so deep. Just beneath the surface three cord-marked body sherds were found. Near them was the end of a broken, polished celt (Fig. 8, 35). At the minus18-inch level two unclassifiable sherds were found that have brushed interiors with parallel grooving (scallop shell dragging?). They are shell-tempered and evidence coiling in construction. They are very similar to the questionably 'brushed' sherd from the previous feature. One is a cord-marked body sherd while the other is a rim sherd with an incised design. This includes a triangular plat formed by parallel incised lines containing horizontal rows of "stab-and-drag" marks. The upper ends of these marks all show a tiny V-groove when viewed under low magnification (Fig. 5, 4). I can closely approximate this mark in clay by using a fish spine from one of the pits. From this same zone comes a sherd with both interior and exterior brushed. Another body sherd has haphazard faint brush marks. Slightly beneath the cord-marked sherds, I recovered two small cylindrical pipe fragments with burned and charred interiors. Quartz chips and flakes, one near the top showing retouching and probable use as a scraper, were common throughout the pit. The usual complement of deer teeth, fish, and mammal bones was present. Charcoal grains and broken stones were common, though the pit did not show evidence of being used for a hearth or fireplace.
Feature 21 (Fig. 2, 5S/17W). This pit was exposed by a bulldozer during excavation for a house foundation. Four feet in diameter and 18 inches deep, it contained bone fragments, charcoal, quartz flakes, and scattered rather uniformly throughout, some 25 sherds of East River-like pottery. A rim sherd from this group (Fig. 5,2) suggests Van Cortlandt Stamped, or the stamped rims of the Owasco Aspect. Unfortunately, the specimen is small, but it does suggest a collar and the lip is rounded and treated in an unusual manner. That is, the outer portion, has been depressed or "pushed down' - as can be seen in the cross-section or profile of the piece. Similarity in appearance and paste, and close spatial association in this small feature, in my opinion, argue that all sherds are from one vessel. The sherds are grit-tempered. No artifacts were recovered.
Indian Point sub-site, Feature 1. No coordinates are given as this shoreline midden lies beyond the extent of my grid system. The layer, perhaps 25 by 45 feet, occurred right at the shoreline and was partially sheltered by a low ridge of bedrock to the northwest. Noteworthy is the fact that many of the shells were clean and whole and intermingled with fire-reddened stones. Though cultural material was recovered from the layer here and there, I believe it to be mainly a cooking site where mollusks were perhaps steamed open. The layer varied in thickness from about 2 to 8 inches, and occurred at levels varying from weathering spots at the surface to a layer 8 to 10 inches beneath topsoil and sod. The feature had been badly disturbed in the past; so in situ finds were not anticipated and no record was kept for stratigraphy. 38 This outer point seems to be the sole aboriginal site for this side of the harbor entrance, and the absence of any other material here may support my contention that only a limited number of natives utilized it at infrequent intervals. Artifacts recovered include a fragment probably representing the end of a polished red-slate pendant (Fig. 8, 36), the terminal end of a polished bone awl (Fig. 7, 25), a partially roughed out projectile point blank of black cherty material, the base of a side-notched point, two broken quartz points (one of which was probably triangular), and the tip of a brown jasper knife (Fig. 5, 22). Seven body sherds, mostly cord-marked, compact in paste, grit-tempered, and smooth on the interior, probably represent East River wares and complete the inventory here.
In closing this description of finds recorded at the IF site, I shall mention briefly some material turned up very recently during grading operations for the highway. I plan to treat such finds more fully at another time, but they seem worthy of mention now. Nine deer-antler-tine tools (Fig. 7, 13-21) were exposed by a road grader near the central portion of the site. Evidently a cached group, most had modified tips ranging from sharpened points to blunt wedges. Apparently the group was 9 to 12 inches below the surface and near the western edge of a refuse pit. Another find exposed by grading constitutes the largest pottery find yet: some 200 pieces. 39 Unfortunately, this still does not include all the pieces of one vessel, but enough has been restored to give a rough idea of the vessel’s semi-globular shape (Fig. 7, 7). The sherds are grit-tempered and compact in paste, and show a smooth interior. An everted lip with the exterior completely cord-malleated is flat and was carefully stamped with a cord-wrapped paddle around the rim. The interior just below the lip has no cord marks. 40 In all significant traits, the vessel is East River Cord Marked.