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Research :: ARCHAEOLOGY LABORATORY :: Current Research :: Jon Lothrop

The New York Paleoindian Database Project (NYPID)

As part of ongoing research on Late Pleistocene adaptations in New York, the NYSM is renewing its commitment to the statewide fluted point survey begun in the 1950s by Dr. William A. Ritchie. To all NYSAA members and others interested in New York prehistory, please help us systematically record data on Paleoindian fluted and lanceolate projectile points for the NYPID Project.

To contribute to the NYPID Project, visit the links in the left navigation panel of this page.

Background
Paleoindian fluted points
Paleoindian fluted points from the
NYSM Archaeology Collections

NYPID -- it's not a state agency -- it's a research project! Our goal is to compile information and digital photographs of artifacts left behind by the first peoples of New York. 

Over 50 years ago, Ritchie published Traces of Early Man in the Northeast (1957). This landmark study synthesized discoveries of Paleoindian points and sites to interpret the Late Pleistocene occupation of New York and beyond. In 1982, Beth Wellman and Bob Funk updated Ritchie's work with data supplied by professional and avocational archaeologists, providing the only dedicated survey of fluted points for New York (Wellman 1982). Beth Wellman showed that fluted bifaces clustered in the Hudson and Susquehanna valleys, the Ontario Lake Plain, and other parts of New York, suggesting travel corridors and key resource areas for Paleoindians.

While statewide Paleoindian point surveys are not new, archaeologists are increasingly using these data as another tool for understanding life in the Late Pleistocene. The Paleoindian Database of the Americas (PIDBA) website (http://pidba.utk.edu/) shows how fluted point distributions can be used at a continental scale to help address questions on the peopling of the New World (e.g., Anderson and Faught 1998; Anderson et al. 2005). Although data quality for many states on this website is excellent, it is incomplete for some states like New York, handicapping interpretations.

In the last two decades, archaeologists have developed sequences for fluted and lanceolate Paleoindian points on a timescale of about 13,000 to 10,000 BP (Ellis and Deller 1997; Bradley et al. 2008). With these seriations, we can assign rough ages to undated Paleoindian sites and point finds in the Great Lakes and New England. Coupled with provenience data, this can tell us much about how and when Paleoindians colonized and adapted to these broad regions; the same can be done for New York.

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References Cited

Anderson, D. G. and M. K. Faught
         1998   The Distribution of Fluted Paleoindian Projectile Points: Update 1998. Archaeology of Eastern North America 26:163-187.

Anderson, D.G., D.S. Miller, S.J. Yerka and M.K. Faught
         2005   Paleoindian Database of the Americas: 2005 Status Report. Current Research in the Pleistocene 22:91-92.

Bradley, James, Arthur Spiess, Richard Boisvert, and Jeff Boudreau
         2008   What's the Point?: Modal Forms and Attributes of Paleoindian Bifaces in the New England-Maritimes Region.  Archaeology of Eastern North America 36:119-172.

Wellman, Beth
         1982   A Survey of New York Fluted Points.  Archaeology of Eastern North America 10: 39-40.

Ellis, Christopher J., and D. Brian Deller
         1997   Variability in the Archaeological Record of Northeastern Early Paleoindians: A View from Southern Ontario.  Archaeology of Eastern North America 25:1-30

Ritchie, William A.
         1957   Traces of Early Man in the Northeast.  New York State Museum and Service, Bulletin 358.

Wellman, Beth
         1982   A Survey of New York Fluted Points.  Archaeology of Eastern North America 10: 39-40.

 

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