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Research :: ARCHAEOLOGY LABORATORY :: Current Research :: Julieann Van Nest

The Perch Lake Project

The Perch Lake mounds are annular rings of earth and stone found near Perch Lake, in Jefferson County, northern New York. A report of the mounds was first published in 1851. Later they came to the attention of William M. Beauchamp, one of the pioneers of New York archaeology. He began assembling information about the Perch Lake mounds in the mid-1880s and made several direct field observations 1901, work that culminated in the 1905 publication of New York State Museum Bulletin 87 (www.nysl.nysed.gov) Beauchamp concluded that the annular rings were the remains of ancient lodge sites, but many since have questioned this interpretation.

Chipped stone artifacts
A mound at Perch Lake, 1901. W.M. Beauchamp.

With funding from the National Science Foundation, I am working with members of the New York State Archaeological Society and David L. Asch on the geoarchaeological and archaeobotanical aspects of the Perch Lake mound features. We are conducting a GIS-based modern survey and census of the mounds, with limited test excavations. The project is gathering detailed morphometric data for some of the mounds, and otherwise documenting the condition of the many remaining mounds. A suite of flotation samples is being collected and analyzed for archaeobotanical information, to test a new hypothesis that these features may be the remains of large earthen ovens, perhaps used to process the plant known as tuckahoe (Peltandra virginica).

Chipped stone artifact         s
Using topographic data to explore
different means of visualizing and
analyzing the mounds.


 

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