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Direct Dating of New York Settlements Offers New Timeline

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

ITHACA, NEW YORK—According to a report in the Olean Times Herald, Sturt Manning of Cornell University and John Hart of the New York State Museum have obtained new radiocarbon dates from Native American sites in upstate New York and created a new timeline for the occupation of the Mohawk and Hudson River Valley regions at the time of European contact. Because Europeans traveled by river from the coast into New York in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, timelines for Native American settlement of these areas had relied upon the arrival of European goods such as metal items and glass beads. But Manning noted that not all Native American groups accepted contact or goods from Europeans. The researchers thus analyzed metal goods from the settlements with portable X-ray fluorescence to see if they may have been crafted from local materials, collected new radiocarbon dates of organic materials such as maize kernels, and conducted a statistical analysis of archaeological and historical information. The results of the study suggest that the shift to larger, fortified communities at some Iroquoian sites did not occur in the mid-fifteenth century, as previously thought, but between the mid-sixteenth and the beginning of the seventeenth centuries. To read about a site that was once home to eastern Native American tribes that might have included the Iroquois, go to "Letter from Philadelphia: City Garden."

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