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A 12,000-year-old find in Keene

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Author Topic: A 12,000-year-old find in Keene  (Read 92 times)
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« on: June 13, 2010, 06:38:11 pm »

A 12,000-year-old find in Keene

Union Leader Correspondent
Thursday, Jun. 10, 2010

KEENE Just beyond the grind of machinery and trucks working to build a state of the art middle school in Keene lays the remnants of the life that used to be there. Before machines, before planes and cars, before the first settlers from strange lands, people were here. They built fires and carved tools, had families, and most of all, existed.

"The history of Keene says that Native Americans never lived here," said Robert Goodby, a Stoddard Archeologist studying the historic finds at the site of the new Keene Middle School off of Maple Avenue. "And here we have evidence of them living here 12,000 years ago. ... It's significant because of its age, that it's so undisturbed and the fact that you can stand here 12,000 years later and speculate that this was someone's home for a short period of time based on where the artifacts are coming from."

Goodby is leading a team of archeologists excavating four areas on the site of the new Middle School. The site in only one of two this old known in Cheshire County -- the other was discovered in the late 1970s in Swanzey -- and only one of 15 of this age in the state. The exact location of the dig is being kept secret to prevent looters from desecrating the sites and to preserve the team's own painstaking work which has continued seven days a week for months.

Goodby was first hired by the Keene School District to examine the historic significance of the site as part of the permitting process to build near a wetland.

And it was good they did, since the team has discovered bits of history dating between 12,000 and 13,000 years old.

"Not very much at all is known about these people," Goodby said. "What is very special about this site is that this is one of the very early sites. These were some of the first people to come into this area and the end of the ice age."

Through digging deep soil test cores all across the flat and wet land area at the site, a geologist was able to get an historical picture of what the area looked like when the first people arrived in what was not yet Keene.

"He was able to determine that the site originally had small streams coming across it from the melting glacier and (the streams) were depositing the sand and creating this level surface," Goodby said. "By the time the first people got here, (the terrace) was exactly where it is now."

He went on to say that at the time the Ashuelot River was also much closer to the site, making it an ideal spot to set up camp, Goodby said.

"It's a nice level sandy terrace right next to a huge wetland. You know there's all sorts of good things to eat and a lot of natural resources there," he said.
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« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2010, 06:39:15 pm »

The archeologists started out digging in small test areas last fall. Where they found chips of stone, likely from tools, they opened up the area for further exploration. Moving in a methodically slow fashion, the excavators dug one meter squares. They divided those squares into four quarters, each about 50 cm. They then dug down, 5 cm at a time.

"Everything that we find is very precisely located, because, to make sense of what people were doing here, we need an accurate map of where every tool was found," Goodby said. "That's one of the critical things about archeology. A lot of people think, ‘oh archeology means finding lots of cool stuff.' Yeah it does, but what we're really trying to do here is learn about what the people were doing. And we can only do that if we recover the tools scientifically."

So far the artifacts have been found in oval clusters. Goodby speculates that these areas were where the people pitched tents or other shelters.

Primarily, the explorers have found a variety of stone tools that would have been used for processing animal hides, such as scraping tools. They've also found tools for making things out of bone and antlers as well as tools for engraving and splitting. But what's even more significant is what the stone tells the archeologists about the people who used them.

"We're learning for one thing that they had connections that extended all over Northern New England," Goodby said. "They were getting their stone from quarries as far away as northern Maine. And from sources in far north New Hampshire." He said there's evidence some of the stone may have come from Berlin and Jefferson.

He said they may have gotten this by following the caribou migratory routes, as that was their main game animal. He also said it may indicate that they were connected to other bands of people at this time so the stone moved from family to family.
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« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2010, 06:41:16 pm »

Goodby also believes the type of stone they are finding in Keene as compared to the stone found in Swanzey in the 1970s, will ultimately prove the Keene site is even older than the Swanzey site.

Another exciting find was a stone fireplace that still had remnants of burnt fire wood in it. Next to the hearth, the archeologists also discovered what they believe to be burnt caribou bone. Goodby said testing will be done on the bone to determine the animal and the wood to determine what species of trees were in the area when these people lived there.

Goodby said he has two more weeks to gather what he can from the sites before construction on that part of the property continues on the middle school.

However, the significance of the site will not be lost once the areas are covered over with the new school, said William Gurney, Co-Superintendent of SAU 29.

He said school officials will be building the finds into the curriculum so that students will understand the importance of the history right there in their backyard. He also said replicas of the stone tools will be on permanent display inside the school.

"The curriculum has been a little bit lacking when it comes to the original inhabitants in New England," Gurney said. "Now the students will be able to hold replicas of the actual artifacts in their hands and see exactly what the real tools looked like and touch and hold them…. It's just great."

Further, the school district will receive a comprehensive report on the findings and Goodby also expects to give lectures and publish his findings at some point. Though a scientist through and through, Goodby can't hide his excitement for what they are discovering.

"To put it in context, I have been doing archeology for 25 years," he said. "And this is the neatest site I've ever seen. This is really a very important site."
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« Reply #3 on: June 13, 2010, 06:41:50 pm »


the oval clusters, suggest a connection to the
"mound culture" of minn.
- joe legein, psl, fl 34952

I don't understand the personal attacks beings directed at Dave, unless it's because the facts he relates debunk liberal mythology.

There is no such thing as a "Native American". Human beings did not evolve here, as far as we know. For at least the last 12,000 years the Americas have been populated by wave after wave of immigrants from Europe and Asia, each of whom either displaced or settled alongside those here at the time. The process continues to the present day.

I also don't understand the gratuitous anti-Christian slurs, or why the UL allows these posts to remain.
- Tom, Campton

It really bothers me that the plans to still build a school here have not been modified.
Can't they find another place and preserve this? This is quite a find and we should cherish it.
- LHemy, Plaistow

What I want to know is who is the historian who declared native americans hadn't settled around Monadnock (Keene).

"The history of Keene says that Native Americans never lived here," said Robert Goodby..."

'Cause I want to find that idiot and personally introduce him to a tomahawk tap.

There wasn't much "history" going on back then, anyway, except oral. But I bet there were experts on everything.

Unless... maybe they knew something. something some shaman devined: "This is accursed ground. Some day, if anyone settles here, this will become a place of fools trying to learn skills of little meaning or use; of oompah smokers who know not the ways; of those who live in the middle of nowhere, and only wish it was somewhere."

So, guys, while you're poking around out there, see if you can find this shaman's notes. Look for a string of shells and shiny pebbles; it's in code.

Oh, and Dave... you're full of oompah. And not the smoking kind. Well, maybe that, too.
- Zoom, NH

"We're learning for one thing that they had connections that extended all over Northern New England," Goodby said. "They were getting their stone from quarries as far away as northern Maine. And from sources in far north New Hampshire."

Unbelieveable! It's clear that the MA border toll booths were inhibiting free trade even back then!

That said, congrats to all involved in this interesting and important work.
- Phil Wilson, Stratham

it would be great if they could leave some of the site and teach the students. archeology through the actual process.
- Barbara, Manchester

Only 2 weeks to study this pile of junk left behind by a bunch of campers who didn't clean up after themselves?

Hey archeologists if you want more time you should suggest that your rights are being infringed upon - I suspect that there's a bunch of Keeners sitting around a coffee house just looking for something to form a human ring around.
- Ed, Manchester

Article does not identify tool or point types, nor show representative examples. Video was not very helpful in this regard either.
For this age (12,000 BP), are they Pre-Clovis or Clovis? The indian name mentioned in video implies something later, which really is a late cusp of "paleo".
- Darryl, Pittsboro, NC

I don't know why everyone is so hostile about this find. It's not about govt or any race of people. This is about ancient humans and how and where they lived. HUMANS, people. The only race on this planet is HUMAN.
- Gabriele, Phoenix

Hey that’s my stuff I dropped it when I fell off of my pet dinosaur. When can I get it back?
- Paul, Milford

Modern Native Americans and their culture have nothing to do with a site this old (and by modern, I mean anyone born in the last thousand years). It is more preposterous than me claiming ownership of the Parthenon or the Pyramids at Giza which are of much more recent vintage.
- Greg, Plaistow

Dave, Manchester:

I am familiar with all of the terms that you referenced and can't see how there is any evidence for your assertions. Could you back up your "factual" arguement, or is it just based on the racist idea that Europeans have a prehistoric claim to North America. Or, maybe they came to the U.S. with Jesus?
- Shane, Alberta

Jason, you must be referencing new the new world christian view. Not all christian's share that belief. Also, you seem to be misguided as to the intent of the forefathers. They had some different socially acceptable behaviors, but the fact that they designed the country to have a government of limited power was not one of them. That was actually the one thing that they implemented that was timeless. Certainly if you disagree you can move a more socialist place like Greece, China or Cuba. Greece who is all but bankrupt because of its massive government and China and Cuba which are some of the most opressive governments on earth thanks to their communist beliefs. But as for this site, I think it is great that we are finding this, it will be a great insight into the heritage of this area.
- Tom, Manchester

Well, Mike R., someone has to balance you out. You lambaste trolls yet in the same sentence you send a dig at the other side. How is that 'fair and balanced'?
- Art, Portsmouth

They found a balanced government budget, seal it up behind glass in a museum before Democrats destry it!
- Chuck, Chester

Robert W. wrote, "They should proceed with a bit more caution, and bury to much of what is unearthed. The article does not stae but could it be concluded this is a Native American site(the first people in the area).

I would like assurance that this has been checked out."

Robert, there is ample evidence that any artefacts found at this site may pre-date any so-called "Native American" heritage.

Some people may not want to hear this, others do not want it known. Factually, however, Europeans were here long before what most term "Native Americans," and they left behind tools and technologies.

Those tools and tech are being discovered more & more each year, and it has become more apparent that these "old ways" were adopted later (3k to 5k years!) by the migrating hordes ("Native Americans") out of what is now Russia, on their way down the western coast to Central and South America.

Some keywords to research: Solutrean, Folsom, Clovis. I would like assurance that you have checked this out.
- Dave, Manchester

Thomas Jefferson, one of "The Forefathers" was one of the first to scientifically excavate archeological sites on this continent. The Founders were Men of the Renaissance. Learning and inquiry were of importance to them. They were fluent in more than one language and were scientifically literate. What would he do?
- Steve, Concord

Shouldn't this site be preserved?
- Tom, Campton

Our forefathers intended for only white male who owned land to vote too Art. Unfortunately, I have a feeling you would be all for that too.
- Jason, Londonderry

Wait, I thought the earth was only 6,000 years old. So conflicted...
- Jason, Londonderry

We will soon be living in the same manner as our ancient ancestors!
- Bell Boy (ret), Hampstead,NH

UL, when an obviously posing troll like Art, Portsmouth indeed trolls these boards trying to make conservatives look bad, (remember it's liberals who have gutted actual education to make it PC)... why do you print it?

Either remove the posting rules, or follow them, please.
- Mike R., Bedford

I have been told that an area in maine,to be more accurate at Aziscohos Lake there was a sit that was found in the lake that fits the same profile as the one you are discribing in NH. One of the people who helped in the dig is now an ex game Warden by tne nam of charlie Akins.
- craig Richardson, West newfield ME.

Why are tax dollars being spent on this? Cut the government, cut the regulations! Get back to what our forefathers intended.
- Art, Portsmouth

They should proceed with a bit more caution, and bury to much of what is unearthed. The article does not stae but could it be concluded this is a Native American site(the first people in the area).

I would like assurance that this has been checked out.

I believe two weeks is not enough time to gather everything needed to determine what was actually found.

As our native american history teaches us many tribes or bands of native americans lived in the region and would travel the many water ways of the are either for transportation or for sustaining life by using the resources of the area.
- Robert W, Manchester

I'm sure they'd be proud to see the lazy, fat, cheeto eating pot heads that represent Keene today.
- CD, Manchester

This is a great find and brings me back to working with archaologists when I was school aged.. Though it also makes me wish that more than just replicas of the actual tools found on site will be on site.. where are the actual tools going? Why can't some of the ACTUAL artifacts remain in a sturdy display case..?? I realize that you can't be passing a 12,000 year old artifact around each class year and expect anything to be left, but doesn't anyone think that some of the actual artifacts should have a permanent home at the actual location??
- Robb, North Walpole

... and Melanie trumps the Sentinel again!

Nice work. Thank you, and keep it up!
- Nemi, Keene

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« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2010, 06:43:43 pm »

 Archaeology site in Keene
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