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Native American Archaeology

Native Americans have been present in New York for 13,000 years. Since the mid-19th century, the New York State Museum has conducted archaeological investigations that have helped to write the histories of Native Americans in the state. The Museum continues that tradition today through field- and collections-based research. Current research is aimed at increasing our understandings of the earliest Native American occupants of New York, between 13,000 and 10,000 years ago; the histories of various agricultural crops and the evolution of agricultural systems some 3,000 to 500 years ago; the ways in which Native American groups settled the landscape and how settlements changed through time 3,000 to 500 years ago; and the ways in which different Native American groups interacted with one another through trade, exchange, and symbolism.

News Articles

Published May 5, 2020 | Native American Archaeology

Archaeologists have a lot of dates wrong for North American indigenous history – but we're using new techniques to get it right


Volunteers Sue S. and Neil W. pause during block excavations at the OPS Site, July 10, 2019
Published April 6, 2020 | Native American Archaeology

In July and September 2019, NYSM archaeologists and volunteers conducted their fifth season of excavations at the OPS Paleoindian site in Madison County. Discovered in 2015, the OPS site has yielded stone fluted points of the Crowfield "style," indicating an early Native American encampment...

Examples of Paleoindian artifacts from the OPS site. A: fluted point with impact fracture; B: Endscraper, hafted tool likely used for hide working for skin clothing manufacture; C: Hafted perforator for working bone or wood; D: Graver, delicate hand-held
Published December 19, 2019 | Native American Archaeology

In June 2015, avocational archaeologists Mike Beardsley and Mark Clymer were surveying for Native American archaeological sites on farm property owned by Tom and Joyce Bush in central New York. Walking across their fields, Mike spied a large scraping tool of chert. Days later, he discovered a...

OPS excavation crew, September 20, 2018
Published October 25, 2018 | Native American Archaeology

In September, NYSM archaeologists completed the 2018 excavations at the OPS Paleoindian site in Madison County, New York. The OPS site has yielded fluted points of the Crowfield "style," indicating an early Native American encampment dating to the late Ice Age, circa 12,000-11,600 years ago....

Detail of Suffern Rockshelter pot
Published October 25, 2018 | Native American Archaeology

From the 1930s through the early 1960s, avid avocational archaeologist Dr. James Vieth collected and conducted test excavations on Native American archaeological sites, most often in Rockland County, southeastern New York. His son, James Vieth Jr., accompanied his father on many of these field...

Lake George
Published December 3, 2013 | Native American Archaeology

New York State Museum archaeologists have identified archaeological remains associated with a small Early Archaic camp dating to approximately 8,000 B.C. along the shore of Lake George in Warren County, New York. The site produced bifurcate and Genesee projectile points that would have been used...