Trade beads recovered in situ (in archaeological context on site) provide archaeologists with important factors to determine cultural significance, date/time sequence and extent of trade. By the mid-1500s, glass trade beads were found in large quantities at the Susquehannock villages which occupied both sides of the river in York and Lancaster counties, demonstrating that the Dutch, Swedes, English, and French were actively trading along these routes. Glass beads were sold to other countries or merchants, then traded to the Native Americans in exchange for furs, especially beaver. Beads came in a variety of shapes, colors, and sizes from the tiny seed bead to brick red tubular. The Susquehannock used glass beads as an adornment strung as necklaces or bracelets, sewn onto clothing and headdresses, and traded with other Native American tribes.
Recovered from the Ibaugh Site (36La54) of Washington Boro, this brass necklace composed of cut spirals and cone jinglers (rolled cut brass sewn onto clothing to produce a tinkling sound) was used as an adornment and wearing it represented a high social status.
Brass kettles were in high demand by the native population but not for the European end-use such as cooking. Rather, kettles provided the metal to produce brass triangle arrow points, jewelry, pipe stems, bells, and various other recycled sheet metal objects.
Found on the Strickler Site (36La03) dated 1635-1660 AD, this tulip-bowl clay pipe was the dominant pipe assemblage. The ring bowl pipes, found on earlier sites, were precursors of the tulip bowls now much thinner, buff-colored and with less decoration. Pipes were a useful chronological indicator and marker of trade relations along with social and cultural changes. Tobacco smoke is considered by indigenous peoples to be a visual form of prayer and invocation and allows for communication with the spirits. Researcher Nassaney shows an increase in pipe smoking among both men and women to aid their spiritual well-being. During the Strickler Phase there was great social change and conflict with Europeans. Yet, according to Kent (1984:22), the native pipes did not decline compared to other native objects being replaced with European goods.
Typically, items made of pewter do not survive being buried in the earth for very long. Often, when these items are found, they can be identified in situ but can't be removed due to almost complete disintegration. This pipe somehow survived. The earliest occurrences of found pewter were at the Strickler site(36La03).
Spoons were the most common, with smoking pipers somewhat less so. The pipes would often show some sort of animal or other effigy attached near the bowl. This one did not–
at least, nothing that survived.
STONE AXE HEADS
Earliest use of stone axes in Pennsylvania was during the Archaic Period (8000 to 1800 BC) when the climate became warmer and dryer. Due to this environmental change, hardwood trees such as oak, hickory and maple began to emerge on the landscape. Stone axes were needed to chop trees for firewood, handles for hafting stone tools and temporary shelters. Construction of grooved axes: natives shaped igneous and metamorphic rocks by pecking away bits on the surface and then smoothing the stone with an abrasive material like sandstone. A wooden handle was hafted to the groove for better leverage to cut and shape wood. Stone axes were utilized until Contact Period when European metal (iron) axes replaced stone tools.
The lower Susquehanna Valley near Safe Harbor Dam is one of the largest concentrations of rock art on the east coast. Most likely, they were created by Algonkian speaking natives who lived about a thousand years ago. Many petroglyphs located on Big or Little Indian Rock are still visible but there were other islands with pecked-in designs (now submerged after after dam construction). Several petroglyphs were removed from Walnut Island and are currently housed at Blue Rock Heritage Center for visitor and researchers to study. The most mysterious petroglyph is that showing a carved symbol similar to “tic, tac, toe” lines. Archaeologist Donald Cadzow, in 1934, stated the Walnut Island petroglyphs are unlike any other nearby rock art created by Algonkian peoples. The meanings of these mysterious writings have long been lost to history.
BLUE ROCK VALANCE
Noted feature are the lobes or “valance” surrounding the vessel. This type of pottery is unique in that it had no antecedents in the serial ceramic lines of Susquehannock seriation. Researchers Heisey & Witmer claim that Blue Rock Valance had its beginning at the Shultz site. Dr. Barry Kent stated that Seneca or Cayuga potters had an influence on Blue Rock Valance, perhaps as captives of the Susquehannocks at the time when this style of pottery was created. The Seneca or Cayuga pottery style is almost identical except for the temper used which was grit rather than shell temper of the Susquehannocks.
SHULTZ INCISED VESSEL
The Shultz Stage pottery series occurred between 1575 -1600 AD. The Shultz site (36La07) is located directly across the road from the Blue Rock Heritage Center, an early palisaded Susquehannock village which displaced and/or absorbed the Shenk’s Ferry Peoples. Schultz incised pottery traits consists of one or two lines of horizontal incising at top of collar, broad, short, shallow incising with numerous geometer patterns of triangular plats filled with elliptical punch marks, a typical rounded bottom and shell temper.
WB HUMAN EFFIGY VESSEL
Washington Boro site (36LA8) demonstrates several factors that identify the vessel as Susquehannock origin. The vessels are characterized by high collars, elongated necks, rounded bottoms, shell-temper, and various geometric incised patterns. The human effigy applied to this pot is a recognizable component from 1600 to 1625 AD. Within a matriarchal society, Susquehannock women showcased their fine pottery skills in a prominent place within the longhouse. The human face effigy is linked to Iroquoian religious iconology on decorative pots.