Foxwoods Conn. 9000 Year Old Village
Taken fron the Sun Journal
"What looks like a simple, small black stain on a sandy hill at the Mashantucket Pequot reservation has changed the way archaeologists in this region look for dig sites. Archaeologists are excavating dozens of pit houses -- structures built into a hill and supported by timbers -- on a hill next to the Great Cedar parking garage behind Foxwoods Resort Casino. The find wouldn't be all that unique, except these houses were built about 8,000 years before researchers thought people settled into semi-permanent structures.
"Usually we see (native people) as wandering around the landscape (9,000 years ago)," said Kevin McBride, director of research at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center. "You don't check hillsides, because who's going to live on a hillside? This is probably the most important site in East North America."
Just this week, the state released information it uncovered more than 8,100 Indian artifacts at a dig on the former Norwich Hospital property in Preston. A $1.6 billion movie studio and theme park is proposed for the site. McBride explained American Indians 9,000 years ago didn't have agriculture, and the running theory was they were nomadic hunters. Evidence at Mashantucket suggests these people used the Great Cedar Swamp's ecosystem to gather roots and tubers as their primary nutrition and lived in the pit houses for months on end.
"We though they were staying in one place for a few days or a week and moving on," McBride said.
Archaeologists didn't have many sites that dated back to 9,000 years ago and thought that meant there were few people living here at the time. Now, they are re-thinking that and looking at other sites to determine who lived here, what they ate and how they lived.
"It was assumed everyone was hunting whitetail deer and turkeys," said Dan Forrest, senior archaeologist at the Public Archaeology Survey Team, which is working at Mashantucket.
Forrest said there is evidence the people who lived in the pit houses didn't live there all year, because they left several tools behind in places they could be found when the people returned. He said the challenge his team is facing now is determining where they went, how long they stayed here and what they did when they went away.
"When they move off this site, it suggests they're doing something different altogether, like fishing," Forrest said.
Forrest said he is looking for links between people from Mashantucket and settlements found in the north, such as Maine. He said making that link could show the Northeast was a more populated and interconnected region than first thought.
"It always looked like New England was not such a great place to live," Forrest said. "Instead of seeing the Northeast as marginal, we're seeing more of a central core here."