Exciting Find! Normanskill Point

We have been digging at a couple of new rock shelters in Mohonk, including Toms shelters, Evans shelter, and Frans Cavern.  On our last day of digging I unearthed this Normanskill point!  To dig in this pit, we had to move a very large boulder out of the way (by we I mean Nate!), and the soil was EXTREMELY compact, which made it pretty tough to dig.  We think that this full point was most likely lost by the person who made it.

The Normanskill point was found in the 24N 2.5W pit in layer B level 1

The Normanskill point is approximately 3,000 – 5,000 years old and is a transitional point between the Lamoka point and the Brewerton point.  This analysis is based on the shape of the point, material, and patterns of its ridges.

This week we will be in the lab washing, labeling and analyzing all the artifacts we have come across this summer.  Nate will be posting next, so there are more updates coming soon!

First Post! Welcome to Our Blog!

Greetings!  Nate, Sarah, Emma, and I are students at Vassar College participating in the Undergraduate Summer Research Institute (URSI).  Our archaeology project is led by Professor Lucy Johnson, who has conducted a number of excavations in the Shawangunks as well as the Rat Islands, part of the Aleutian Island chain, in Alaska.  Our main excavation this summer is in a rock shelter located in the Shawangunks, which we call the Cuddeback site.


We started digging last week and have found a number of lithic debitage flakes as well as one preform.   Emma has found the most lithic debitage in her test pit within the cave, which is very promising and exciting!

The 4N1E test pit that Emma has been digging at the Cuddeback site. Most of the lithic debitage we have so far was found in this pit

The main stone material we are interested in is chert and flint


Nate diligently taking notes at the 4N4.5W test pit


When we take a break from digging we like to explore the area, spotting critters, checking out beautiful views, and  spelunking “crystal caves!”  We’ve also had a number of guest archaeologists who helped us dig our pit and screen the dirt in hopes of finding a point or flake.

Emma screening the dirt from her pit with one of our lovely helpers!


Copes Lookout at Mohonk


Nate looking out onto the world at Copes Lookout


Days like today, when we are in the lab, we analyze artifacts from an excavation in New Hampton, NY.  Nate and Emma are focusing on analyzing lithic debitage and flint flakes, which are the small flakes that are produced when making tools like arrowheads, spearheads, blades etc… To better understand the shape and form of flakes, Lucy taught a flint-knapping class during which we made (or failed to make!) arrowheads and other relevant tools.

Some of the assorted decorated pottery from the New Hampton collection


We hit the core stone, obsidian, with a hammerstone to create a variety of tools


This is an example of the kind of tools we made in the flint-knapping class and the kinds of tools we are looking for at the Cuddeback site. This piece of obsidian is an example of a blade.


Sarah and I are focusing on analyzing a collected of decorated pearlware, whiteware, creamware and porcelain.  We are mainly in the beginning stage of the research at this point, but hopefully we will have more to report fairly soon!