Middleborough Little League Archaeology Project

Document Type

Grant Proposal

Date Accepted

Fall 2009

Project Description/Abstract

The Middleborough Little League site is located northwest of the Nemasket River. I conducted an initial survey at the site in June 1996, followed by BSC archaeological field schools in Fall 1996, Summer and Fall 1998 – 2001, Summer and Fall 2006-2007, and Summer 2008. The site was the locus for prehistoric Native American activity from at least 8,000 years ago to around 1,100 years ago. It was used for subsistence activities (food preparation, hide processing, tool-making), but more importantly for the production and storage of ceremonial goods which were used in mortuary rituals (red, black, and yellow pigments, quartz crystals, polished pebbles) at both local and regional sites. This kind of production is not often attested in the archaeological literature. Items of this sort are found in burial contexts at several sites in the region, but only in small quantities. The Little League site has produced thousands of paintstones and hundreds of quartz crystals and polished pebbles, in addition to thousands of utilitarian stone tools. In 2006 and 2007, I received matching grants from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, matched by funds from the BSC Academic Affairs Office, to support the outside analysis of materials excavated at the site during those seasons. These grants covered the costs of 6 radiocarbon dates, analysis of the edges of about 1,500 stone tools, biological analysis of wood and other organic samples from 50 pit features, soil chemistry analysis of 20 pit features, and pollen analysis of two hearth features. They extended the range of the site’s age by 3,000 years, provided information on subsistence activities, and refined our knowledge of available plant communities in the area.

Under the CART grant, additional radiocarbon dates, paleobotanical analysis, palynological analysis, and use-wear analysis will be done on the 2008 materials by outside consultants. The examination of these materials will be of great importance in the interpretation of cultural activities at the site, which will be part of a final report to be submitted during Spring 2009. Tonya Largy, a paleobotanist, will examine the floral and faunal remains recovered from the site to determine their taxonomic classification. Susan Jacobucci, a use-wear analyst and palynologist, will examine the edge tools from the 2008 seasons at the site to determine what their most likely uses were, and will also examine a pollen sample taken from a hearth to determine the types of vegetation present at the site. Geochron Laboratories, Inc. in Billerica, MA, will process two radiocarbon samples from the 2008 season at the site, one taken from the hearth and the other from a pit feature which contained bone fragments, stone tools, charcoal, and flakes.

Copies of the final publication will be distributed to the Mass. Historical Commission, the Middleborough Historical Commission, the BSC Library, and the Robbins Museum of Archaeology. The Middleborough Historical Commission will be able to use the report to make recommendations to the Town of Middleborough concerning the future use of the site. A report on the final results of the investigation will be given at the Northeast Anthropological Association conference in Spring 2009.  I may also give a presentation on the findings at the 2009 CART Celebration, if the analyses are completed or nearly completed by then.

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