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Volume 3, Issue 1 March 2007

The Region’s Archaeological, Cultural and Historical Resource


INSIDE THIS ISSUE:
Recalling the Engelber t Site Dan Caister,
The Engelbert Site 1 President Tri-Cities Chapter NY Archaeology

Giant Skeletons! 1
The most important fact about the Engelbert site near Nichols, NY, is that it
SRAC Needs Your Help 4 was repeatedly used as a cemetery by the ancestors of the Iroquois for 600
6
years from 950 A.D. to 1550 A.D.
SRAC at Open Forest
7
The second most important fact about this key site is that it’s gone...
SRAC at Sayre House
7 (Continued on page 4)
Coming Events

Interactive Display 9

12
Membership Form G i a n t Ske l e to n s ! Fa c t o r Fi c t i o n ? by Deb Twigg

Our Vision In the late 1800's workers digging trenches for water lines on Main Street in Ath-
The Susquehanna River Ar-
chaeological Center of Native ens PA began uncovering skeletons of an ancient American Indian culture. The
Indian Studies (S.R.A.C.) is people that were present on that
dedicated to education, re-
day referred to them as giants.
search and preservation of the
Native American archaeologi- In fact, it soon became national
cal, cultural and historical news!
assets of the Twin Tier Re-
gion of Northeastern PA and
Southern NY.
Two hundred years later, the
story is seen more as myth than
Our Mission
To proactively seek out, pro- fact. However, there are enough
cure and protect all histori- historical accounts, from unre-
cally and culturally signifi-
lated sources, of these huge
cant assets relative to Native
American History within the people that I find it hard to be-
Twin Tier Region and supply lieve that "larger than normal"
educational and research
capabilities for the public.
humans did not live in our re-
gion a very long time ago.
Our Objectives and Purpose
S.R.A.C. is dedicated to edu-
cation, research and preserva- A good place to start this con-
tion of the region's Native versation is to define the per-
American archaeological,
cultural and historical assets
ception of "normal” in terms of human size. You see, the average height of Euro-
for the communities within peans, at the time of local contact, was between 4’0” – 5’3” tall. One only needs
the Twin Tier Region. to go an antique shop and look at the antique clothing to know that average size
has been steadily increasing for generations. This then, is one factor we would
(Continued on page 2)

TheBecome a River
Susquehanna member of SRAC
Archaeological Center of today! See
Native Indian back
Studies page for more
~ www.SRACenter.org information.
~ email Info@SRACenter.org
Page 2 Volume 3, Issue 1

G i a n t S ke l e t o n s ! Fa c t o r Fi c t i o n ?
(Continued from page 1)

have to keep in mind when reference to size is made in any given report.
“The owner like his
Also - the reported size of remains that were found must be directly related to the
forebears, long refused perception of the person who found them. If it were a professional, having seen
to examine the grave skeletal remains before, the comparison would be to the average or normal size of
at the center of the plot previous findings. If it were someone working to dig a foundation or roadway,
but at last had they might compare the size of the remains to people they are used to seeing in
consented to celebrate their daily life.
the formal opening of
the Historical Museum, For these reasons, "normal" is constantly changing and must be understood to be
a relative term. The one thing that has not changed is the length of a foot or an
and June 27th, 1895,
inch, and this too should be considered. There are other variables, such as the
the work was begun. ”
manner in which the bones are laid out that could affect the report of height of a
full skeleton. With that in mind, let's take a look at the following historical quotes
from two different sites and time periods:

1.) Warren K. Moorehead - Susquehanna River Expedition (page 49 -


Murray Garden), concerning the formal opening of the Historical Museum
in Athens PA in 1895:

"The owner like his forebears, long refused to examine the grave at the center of
the plot but at last had consented to celebrate the formal opening of the Historical
Museum, and June 27th, 1895, the work was begun. The circle of stones proved
to be over a sepulchre about 3 to 5 feet, with an upright stone at each corner, ap-
parently as a marker, for, of course this would have been well above the surface
originally...
Andaste pot found in the
Murray Garden, Athens, PA
in 1883 The writer, hoping to save the pottery, assisted Messrs. Murray and Ercanbrack
in the excavation. Finally, two large flat stones, full of devonian fossils, proved to
(Continued on page 3)

The SRAC Board


The Board of Directors The Advisory Board
Deb Twigg - Executive Director Dr. Marshall Joseph Becker, Ph D, Senior Fellow in Anthropol-
Susan Fogel - Chief Financial Officer ogy, University of Pennsylvania
Dick Cowles - CoDirector of Archaeology/Curation Dr. Nina Versaggi, Ph D, Director of Public Archaeology Facil-
Ted Keir - CoDirector of Archaeology/Education Chairman of ity, Binghamton University
the Board Dr. Kurt Jordan, Ph D, Archaeologist, Cornell University
Nancy Menio
Sharon Franklin
Jessica Quinn

SRAC is currently seeking a person to fill the position of Secretary for our Board of
Directors. Please contact Deb Twigg at 607-727-3111 if you are interested.

The Susquehanna River Archaeological Center of Native Indian Studies ~ www.SRACenter.org ~ email Info@SRACenter.org
The Region’s Archaeological, Cultural and Historical Resource Page 3

G i a n t S ke l e t o n s ! Fa c t o r Fi c t i o n ?
(Continued from page 2)

be the covering to a skeleton of six feet or more in height.


While laying on back with head to the southeast, with hands
crossed on breast, the crushed front of the skull and the unusual
position of legs, right foot under thigh, left leg fallen acrossed
right, seemed to indicate that he might have been buried in a
sitting posture, and overturned by settling of stones of the sepul-
chre, which had evidently crushed the large pot, fully eighteen
inches in diameter, at the left side of the head."

2.) Reverend Mr. David Craft History - of Bradford County


1770 - 1878, History of the Townships, Burlington Township

"In 1822, while digging a cellar on the farm of Gen. McKean,


the excavators came to what was supposed to be an
"impenetrable rock, but striking it with a crow, it gave forth a
hollow sound." They redoubled their efforts, and at last the
stone broke and fell into a vault. And now, with visions of long-
buried treasure flitting through their minds, they carefully removed the earth
from the arch, speculating, the while as to the probable extent of the "treasure-
trove," and the amount of salvage the General would be likely to claim. On re-
moving the cap they found "not what they sought," but a sepulchre. A careful
examination of the sarcophagus revealed it flagged at the bottom, the sides, ar-
tistically built up, and a, flat stone laid on the top. The sarcophagus measured
nine feet in length, two feet six inches in width, and two feet deep. In it was
found a skeleton, measuring, as it lay, eight feet two inches in length. * The
teeth were sound, but the bones were soft and easily broken. There were two of
“The leading
these sepulchres within the space of the cellar, one of which had a pine growing
researcher in our
over it three feet in diameter."
region during the
*This measurement being made by Dr. Williams late of Troy, now deceased. time that these
skeletons were being
While these accounts seem to suggest a prevalence of larger than normal sized uncovered was Mrs.
Native Indian skeletons found in our region, it does little to convince the pro- Louise Welles
fessional archaeologists and anthropologists in our region without it being ac-
Murray, the founder
companied by more scientific measurements and information.
of the Tioga Point
The leading researcher in our region during the time that these skeletons were Museum (1895) in
being uncovered was Mrs. Louise Welles Murray, the founder of the Tioga Athens, Pa.“
Point Museum (1895) in Athens, Pa. She took it upon herself to try to get pro-
fessionals to come and give these finds the professional reporting that they de-
served, while she tried to preserve them in the museum. Meanwhile, her per-

(Continued on page 8)

The Susquehanna River Archaeological Center of Native Indian Studies ~ www.SRACenter.org ~ email Info@SRACenter.org
Page 4 Volume 3, Issue 1

Recalling the Englebert Site


(Continued from page 1)

When construction started on Route 17 through the Southern Tier of New York in the late 1960’s, exca-
vation equipment started removing fill from a 20-acre gravel knoll east of the village of Nichols. As
heavy equipment took out fill, prehistoric human burials emerged on the knoll. By
the time a desperate salvage excavation began to recover as much of the prehistoric
site as possible, nearly two-thirds of the site was gone. SUNY-Binghamton, mem- “As heavy
bers of the Triple Cities Chapter of the NYS Archaeological Association, members equipment took out
of the Tioga Historical Society, high school students, and local residents worked fill, prehistoric
feverishly to excavate features and recover the prehistoric evidence over the sum- human burials
mers of 1967 and 1968. Often they worked only feet away from the contractor’s emerged on the
heavy equipment, and many features could only be marked on site maps. knoll.”
When the crews finally wrapped up, they had mapped or excavated over 1200 fea-
tures—firepits, storage pits, postmolds, and burials. Excavators recovered or
mapped over 140 burials of the Late Woodland residents of the Susquehanna Valley. Based on the arti-
facts interred in the graves, most of the burials dated to the Late Owasco, Protohistoric and Early Con-
tact periods. These estimates are based on pottery styles, pottery technology, and copper artifacts in a
few burials which suggest the presence of European trade goods. Other features—hearths or storage
pits—contained artifacts from the Late Archaic period around 4000 years ago.
Meanwhile, the gravel knoll was nearly completely destroyed, save for an area which contained 19th cen-
tury Euro-American graves. But the amount of data recovered in those two hasty field seasons has con-
tinued to provide study material for researchers for 40 years.

(Continued on page 5)

S R A C N e e d s Yo u r H e l p !
SRAC needs to find a location for our Learning Center. With a Learning Center, we can provide work/
study space, as well as museum space for the public. Please help us to preserve our artifacts and other
evidences that represent thousands of years of our local Native Indian history. When you donate to
SRAC, you can consider your contribution as a gift to generations to come. Donations come in many
forms.

Cash Donations - SRAC is a non-profit organization, and this means that appropriate donations to
SRAC are tax deductible! Monetary donations can be sent to:

Susquehanna River Archaeological Center (SRAC)


PO Box 12
Sayre, PA 18840

Donate a Local Collection - Dick Cowles was the first collector to donate his entire collection (rare
books and artifacts) to SRAC! Since that time, the Safford family has donated a sizeable collection of
Native Indian artifacts as well. When you donate a collection, you will have it saved as “your collec-
tion” for generations to come, as well as have a tax deduction opportunity.

The Susquehanna River Archaeological Center of Native Indian Studies ~ www.SRACenter.org ~ email Info@SRACenter.org
Page 5 Volume 3, Issue 1

Recalling the Englebert Site


(Continued from page 4)
The Native American remains have been or will be repatriated to the Iroquois nations under the terms of
the Native American Graves and Patrimony Repatriation Act. The burial goods interred with the prehis-
toric human remains will also be returned to their modern descendants. But soil samples, artifacts recov-
ered outside of the burials, animal remains and botanical remains are still available for study and reveal
some fascinating information about the prehistory of this area.
One key question is the relationship of the Susque-
hannocks and the Iroquois and their use of the ceme-
tery. Using conventional archaeological standards,
the presence of shell-tempered Shultz Incised pottery
in some graves indicates that these were Susquehan-
nock burials. Other burials are associated with pot-
tery of the proto-Iroquois Castle Creek phase and the
early Iroquois Oak Hill phase. The “Susquehannock”
burials were spatially separated from most of the oth-
ers. Were these ethnically related but distinct peoples
sharing a socially important cemetery? Were the Sus-
quehannocks late-comers to this area, which does
seem to lie on the northern border of their traditional
territory? Or were the two peoples not so ethnically
distinct as we have defined them from pottery styles?
Projectile points from the Richard Engelbert
Another question which may never be answered is Collection
whether this was an occupation site—a village or
hamlet—at some times and a cemetery at
other times. The site was certainly occu-
pied at least intermittently during the
Late Archaic period. The amount of pot-
tery and stone tools in non-burial con-
texts, the presence of deep storage pits,
and a line of possible postmolds suggest
that the hilltop may also have been occu-
pied during at least part of the Late
Woodland period. No indications of a
stockade around the site have been
found. But the depth of a midden on the
northwest slope of the knoll suggests the
presence of a sizeable number of people
disposing of their garbage at least for
short periods of time.
The knoll is not the only archaeological
site in the immediate vicinity. Richard
Engelbert, who grew up and farmed there
for many years, gathered a very nice col- Richard and Bernice Engelbert at the Engelbert Site
lection of prehistoric artifacts from the during excavations
farm surrounding the knoll. His widow
(Continued on page 6)

The Susquehanna River Archaeological Center of Native Indian Studies ~ www.SRACenter.org ~ email Info@SRACenter.org
Page 6 Volume 3, Issue 1

S R AC at 8 t h A n nu a l O p e n Fo re s t E ve n t
On March 3rd, SRAC members participated in the 8th annual
Saterlee Creek Environmental Center Open Forest. SRAC dis-
played many Native American artifacts. Although muddy, atten-
dance was good with people taking advantage of the many out-
door activities. Some of the activities included guided trail tours
by local Boy Scouts, Atlatl demonstrations, and maple syrup
processing.

Many families that stopped by the SRAC station were treated to


detailed descriptions of SRAC artifacts by our own Ted
Keir. Participants loved that not only were they able to get his-
torical information about the artifacts from Ted, but were able to
handle some of the artifacts. SRAC hopes that with programs
like these, we will help draw people to environmental and his-
torical evens like the Open Forest. Attendance at the Saterlee
Creek Environmental Center Open Forest grows each year and Jessica and Toby Quinn
SRAC is proud to be a part of this event.

Recalling the Englebert Site

(Continued from page 5)

Bernice donated his collection to the Cady Library in Nichols shortly before her death.
When the Triple Cities Chapter was asked to catalogue the collection in 2003, we were intrigued by its
association with the well-known cemetery site, where some of our members had assisted in the salvage
excavations 40 years ago. Before seeing the collection, we expected it to include more of the shell-
tempered and grit-tempered pottery found on the knoll, as well as the triangular Levanna and Madison
points typical of the Owasco and Iroquois periods. We thought that it might provide clues to an occupa-
tion site associated with the ceremonial center on the knoll.
To our surprise, that’s not what we found. Instead, the bulk of the collection consisted of Late Archaic
points—Lamoka, Snook Kill, and Vestal types—dating to 1500-2000 B.C. and Terminal Archaic
points—Susquehanna Broadspear and Orient Fishtail types—dating to 500-1500 B.C. There were very
few pottery fragments in the collection, which is not so surprising. Pottery is often ignored by casual ar-
tifact collectors, and the point types listed above predate the appearance of pottery in our area.
More surprising was the nearly total absence of the triangular points usually found in Owasco and Iro-
quois sites. Only two points might have been fragmentary Levanna points. We aren’t sure what that
means. Is this an example of collector bias? Has part of the collection gone elsewhere? (Family mem-
bers don’t recall the collection being broken up.) Or does it have archaeological significance? We just
don’t know at this point.
Study of the material from the Engelbert cemetery site continues. One of the most detailed studies will
soon be published as a PhD dissertation at Binghamton University. And in a fitting coda to the study of
the Engelbert family collection, John Engelbert was inducted as an Eagle Scout in 2006. His Eagle Scout
project? Setting up a permanent display of his great-grandfather’s collection in the Cady Library.
**See Coming Events on the next page for an upcoming presentation on the Englebert Site!

The Susquehanna River Archaeological Center of Native Indian Studies ~ www.SRACenter.org ~ email Info@SRACenter.org
Page 7 Volume 3, Issue 1

SRAC Members Speak at Sayre House


Remastered Booklet
Deb Twigg and Ted Keir did a presenta-
NOW ON SALE!
tion about Spanish Hill at Sayre House
Nursing Home in January that was for
residents and was open to the public as
well. The cafeteria was filled with old and
young alike and people travelled
as far as 50 miles to attend the event.
Twigg opened with her presentation about
the history of the site known as
Spanish Hill to include the story of the
first explorer in our region, Stephen
Brule and the nation of Carantouan. Keir
followed up with discussing many artifacts
that were found at the hill and the sur-
rounding region.
If you would like to have Deb an Ted to Ellsworth Cowles’
speak at your organization or special articles written for
event, please contact SRAC at 607-727- the Corning Leader,
SRAC's Ted Keir discusses a stone celebrating the cen-
3111 or email Info@SRACenter.org. tomahawk that was found locally. tennial anniversary
of the Sullivan Cam-
paign, digitalized
with added pictures,
maps, and a refer-
Coming Events ence list making a
• April 16th, 7 pm. Bradford County Andaste Chapter - “The Englebert 72-page booklet.
Available for $15,
Site,” Bradford County Library. The speaker for the evening is April Beisaw shipped to any ad-
from Vestal, NY. She is a Doctoral candidate at SUNY, Binghamton and will do dress within the US
a slide presentation on how they use animal and human remains to better under- for an additional $3.

stand cultural identity. She has done a great deal of work on the findings from ~ Mail orders with
the Englebert Site in Nichols, NY. The Andastes Chapter will meet the third payment to SRAC,
PO Box 12, Sayre,
Monday of each month at 7 p.m. at the Bradford County library. The public is PA 18840
welcome and there is no charge. Members often bring new archaeological finds
to share with the group. For more information, call Ted Keir at 570-888-2718.

• April 22, 2007 Sayre Historical Society - “World War II History Fair ,
“Patterson Auditorium on the Guthrie Campus A highlight of the event will
be the afternoon showing of the video "When the Sky Rained Heroes" by John
'Bud' McCabe of Sayre. The Sayre Historical Society is inviting anyone who has
a collection or story about World War II to share to come to this event to help
preserve local memories of the Valley and Valley residents during the War
ur up-
years. Tables will be available for displays upon request. The event will begin at about yo
kno w e’d be
12:20 p.m. and run through 4:40 p.m. Plan on joining the Sayre Historical Soci- Let us events. W ere.
g h
comin post them
ety for a very unique look at our past. *To reserve a table for display please call y t o
happ
888-2557 or 882-8221 and leave a message.

The Susquehanna River Archaeological Center of Native Indian Studies ~ www.SRACenter.org ~ email Info@SRACenter.org
Page 8 Volume 3, Issue 1

G i a n t S ke l e t o n s ! Fa c t o r Fi c t i o n ?

(Continued from page 3)

sonal research was directed at just who


these huge people could have been.
Quotes by Murray such as "A number of
huge skeletons found in the various In-
We have an dian burial grounds of Tioga have sug-
address change! gested, by the size, that they are An-
dastes," and "Little attention has ever
Susquehanna River been paid by students of ethnology to the
Archaeological Center valley of the Upper Susquehanna...we
of Native Indian Studies have resolved here to present in a sepa-
rate chapter the results of the work of
PO Box 12 amateur investigators...trusting that more
Sayre, PA 18840 learned students may help us decide to
what race belong the almost gigantic
Phone: 607-727-3111
skeletons often found..." attest to the fact
email:
that she had done her homework, but re-
info@SRACenter.org
alized that her research still needed to be
backed up by professionals to be ac-
cepted as archaeological evidence.
We’re on the Web!
SRACenter.org Mrs. Murray's suggestion that the giant skeletons were of those people referred
to by the early French explorers as "Andastes" (called "Susquehannocks by the
English,) seems to have been quite a discovery in her day. It is said that she
came up with the idea following a discussion with a friend about the early ex-
plorer, Captain John Smith. In this conversation, undoubtedly the following
quote had been revealed to her concerning Smith on the lower Susquehanna:

The Voyages of CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH (of Jamestown, Va.) during the
Years 1607-9

". . . 60 of those Susquehannocks came to us . . . such great and well propor-


tioned men are seldome seene, for they seemed like giants to the English . .
.these are the strangest people of all those countries both in language and attire;
for their language it may well beseeme their proportions, sounding from them
SRAC sponsors as a voice in a vault. Their attire is the skinnes of beares and woolves, some
scavenger hunt in local have cassocks made of beares heades and skinnes . . . The halfe sleeves coming
area map. Watch for to the elbows were the heades of beares and the arms through the open mouth .
your chance to win fun . . one had the heade of a woolf hanging from a chain for a jewell . . . with a
prizes by uncovering club suitable to his greatness sufficient to beat out ones brains. Five of their
miscellaneous items! chiefe wereowances came aboard us . . . (of) the greatest of them his hayre, the
one side was long and the other shorn close with a ridge over his crowne like a
(Continued on page 10)

The Susquehanna River Archaeological Center of Native Indian Studies ~ www.SRACenter.org ~ email Info@SRACenter.org
The Region’s Archaeological, Cultural and Historical Resource Page 9

SR AC Sets Up First Interacti ve School Di splay

The first Native Indian exhibit has been put into


place at Snyder Elementary School in Sayre, PA.
The large glass display case at the entranceway to
the library at Snyder Elementary School in Sayre,
PA just got a facelift. Local Native Indian arti-
facts now pack the case and are available to the
teachers to sign out for their students to hold in
their hands as they learn about the items and the
people that used them hundreds and sometimes
thousands of years ago.

The exhibits are all free of charge and maintained


by the Susquehanna River Archaeological Center
of Native Indian Studies (SRAC,) and include
more than just what can be found in the display
case. For instance, each exhibit is accompanied by
a learning module that includes handouts, posters, webpages and even web videos featuring SRAC's Ted
Keir holding each artifact and talking about how they were made and used. This is all followed up with an
online quiz the students can take and submit to their teacher to review. These exhibits will be rotated
every 6-8 weeks and new handouts, posters and web material will also be supplied for the teachers to use
as reference material about the new contents of the display case.

The artifacts that will be used in the exhibits are from a donation from the Bernard Safford family in Wav-
erly, NY. When the family donated this collection to SRAC last year, they said that Bernie wanted his
collection to be used to educate local children. As a result, we see this as a great opportunity to use his
collection in these exhibits, making them available to our lo-
cal schools. We’re looking forward to sharing our history
with other school children in the future.

To date, SRAC has had two major collections donated to


them, the other being the Cowles Collection which includes
thousands of artifacts found from Corning, NY to Athens,
PA. Sadly, the truth is that the fate of the collections such as
the ones donated by the Safford and Cowles families are an
exception, not the rule. Most end up on the auction block and
our historical evidence goes with it. This is why we believe
as a community we should be grateful to these families for
making the education of our generations a priority.

SRAC is dedicated to education, research and preservation of


the region's Native American archaeological, cultural and his-
torical assets for the communities within the Twin Tier Re-
gion of Southeastern NY and Northeastern PA. Please con-
sider supporting these efforts by joining or donating to SRAC
today. To learn more, go to: www.SRACenter.org.

The Susquehanna River Archaeological Center of Native Indian Studies ~ www.SRACenter.org ~ email Info@SRACenter.org
Page 10 Volume 3, Issue 1

G i a n t S ke l e t o n s ! Fa c t o r Fi c t i o n ?
(Continued from page 8)

cocks combe . . . The calfe of whose leg was ¾ of a yard around and all the rest of his limbes so answer-
able to that proportion that he seemed the goodliest man we ever be-
held!"

The story continues that after John Smith's experience described above
took place, he rushed back down the Susquehanna to the Chesapeake
Bay for fear of these huge warriors. As a result, when he had a map
drawn of his travels, he left only a short distance of his travels on his
map of the Susquehanna River and placed a giant Susquehannock at
the top, casting a shadow over everything else above the point that
Captain Smith had reached.

Murray's theory that the Susquehannocks were indeed the giants that
were uncovered in our region was later found to be in agreement with
other professionals such as A.B. Skinner of the American Indian Mu-
seum and W.K. Moorehead of the Andover Academy who were com-
missioned to research Native Indian sites along the Susquehanna River
in 1916.

Warren K. Moorehead Report to the Pennsylvania Historical


Commission of the work of the Susquehanna Archaeological Expedition Conducted during the sum-
mer of 1916 (This report was given 20 years before the book on this expedition was published)

"On reaching the vicinity of Athens, Pennsylvania, the expedition spent twenty days studying that region
lying between the mouth of the Chemung and Spanish Hill, or Carantouan, some ten miles up stream.
Spanish Hill was an Andaste fortified village, visited by Stephen Brule in 16I5, when he went on the mis-
sion for Champlain, in which he sought to obtain assistance in the war which the French were making
upon the Onondaga fort. It was the first large Andaste settlement on the river. Reinforced by local collec-
tors and Boy Scouts, the expedition searched this interesting region in the vicinity of Fort Sullivan faith-
fully, and found a cemetery (The Murray Farm) containing fifty nine skeletons, presumably Andaste."

Today, the idea that the larger than life Andastes/Susquehannocks lived in our area is accepted, and only
the debate concerning the time period that they left remains. To date, I can find only one scientific report
that delves into the matter of whether or not these people actually were as big as the accounts claim:

Pennsylvania Archeologist, Volume 61 No. 2 September 1991, The Stature of a Susquehannock


Population of the Mid-16th Century Based on Skeletal Remains from 46HM73, by Marshall Jo-
seph Becker Ph.D.

"When John Smith first contacted a group of Susquehannock in 1608 he described these people as
"gyant-like." Direct confirmation of this observation can now be provided through studies of the long
bones of a population which was part of the Susquehannock "confederacy." Recent excavations at a Sus-
(Continued on page 11)

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The Region’s Archaeological, Cultural and Historical Resource Page 11

G i a n t S ke l e t o n s ! Fa c t o r Fi c t i o n ?
(Continued from page 10)

quehannock site on the South Branch of the Potomac River in Hampshire County, West Virginia, revealed
portions of a palisaded village and associated features dating from the middle of the 16th century. This
remnant of a flood-destroyed site yielded 13 relatively intact burials. Surface collection of skeletal mate-
rial immediately downstream of the site after the flood provided long bones from at least 18 other adults.
Calculation of the stature of the individuals represented in this sample and comparisons with the other Na-
tive American populations of this period confirm John Smith's observations…"

Dr. Becker goes on to state that although the males were consistently taller than any other native (or colo-
nial) population in the entire northeast (avg. height 5' 10") the women were not taller than regional aver-
ages.

My unprofessional opinion is that locally, however we may have been too quick to jump to the conclusion
that all of these giant skeletons, found so long ago, were from the Andaste/Susquehannock brood. While
these people were indeed said to be giants by European standards, were they the only abnormally tall people
to have lived in this region? I am not sure we know that answer for sure.

We know that our area is located along an old Indian path referred to as the "Forbidden Trail." We also
know that Tioga Point, Spanish Hill, and this region are natural strategic locations in the doorway to the
south, via the Susquehanna River. No matter the date, we know that this area was used and traversed by the
many cultures that came and went over the centuries. Since we find artifacts from many cultures in our re-
gion, would it be a stretch to ask whether or not we would have a diverse group of people buried here as
well?

I believe that significant questions still remain. When I queried a group of professional scientists as to
whether or not the sepulchral burial sites described in the beginning of this article were common burial
practices of the Andaste/Susquehannocks, the answers were negative. Instead they felt the sepulchers
seemed to be more likely the remnants of an earlier culture.

Until further research can be done, the story of the giant skeletons in our region will continue to spur debate
and imaginations. This research project, like so many others are needed if we are ever to understand the
early prehistory of our region. I hope that you can see the importance of our mission at SRAC. When you
support the Susquehanna River Archaeological Center (SRAC) you are supporting the continuation of re-
search and educational projects such as this. Please consider joining SRAC today!

*SRAC does not support unprofessional excavations of any burial site, and this article is merely a report of
historical data for the sake of research.

We are who we’ve been waiting for.

The Susquehanna River Archaeological Center of Native Indian Studies ~ www.SRACenter.org ~ email Info@SRACenter.org
SRAC
PO Box 12
Sayre, PA 18840

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