NYSM Receives Donation of James Vieth Artifact Collection

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 outings, and in 2018, James generously donated his late father's artifact collection to the NYSM.

Andrea Lain, archaeology collections manager, and archaeology technician Ralph Rataul pose with Jim Veith Jr. and his dog Scooter, along with the Suffern Rockshelter pot.
Andrea Lain, archaeology collections manager, and archaeology technician Ralph Rataul pose with Jim Veith Jr. and his dog Scooter, along with the Suffern Rockshelter pot.
Detail of Suffern Rockshelter pot
Detail of the Suffern Rockshelter pot rim, showing appliqued human faces (eyes and mouths formed by short oblong punctate impressions). This pot is pictured in "Recent Contributions to Hudson Valley Prehistory," by Robert Funk, former NYS archaeologist.

Without doubt, the collection’s highlight is a restored pottery vessel that Dr. Veith excavated in 1953 from a small rockshelter site near Suffern, New York. After fieldwork, he painstakingly refitted the broken sherds of this large conical pot, revealing an overall size of 20 inches (51 cm) in height, with a rim circumference of 45 inches (114 cm). Most striking is the presence on the pot's upper rim of 21 small, appliqued human faces. Similarities to some Native American pottery wares of the lower Hudson and Long Island suggest a later prehistoric age for this pot.