MassDOT Introduces False Conclusion in Final Northampton Site Report

MassDOT’s CONCLUSION HAS SUDDENLY CHANGED TO: “The Early Archaic encampments were short-term, and probably only lasted a day or so.” 

MassDOT is tailoring the conclusion of the final archeological report so that the site can be destroyed.

Comments from Dr. Gramly, a Harvard PhD archeologist who has spent a lifetime studying the Early Archaic period:

“Their conclusion that the occupation was brief is just pure fiction.”

“With nearly 2,000 items already recovered from the known site, I cannot understand why they want to believe occupations were brief. They want to “dismiss” the site despite the fact that they did not test deeply and explore thoroughly.” 

“The notion is that occupations were brief/fleeting is meant to carry the implication that ritual activity did NOT take place there.” 

“This doesn’t address the basic problem which is their flawed assumption that the deposits were necessarily shallow with nothing at greater depth, which is just not the case with sites of this period.” 

Dr. Gramly further added that none of the state’s archeologists have any experience with Early Archaic period sites.

Comments from Mark Andrews, Senior Cultural Resource Monitor with the Aquinnah Wampanoag:

“The claim that this is a temporary hunting camp is outrageous.”

“I was onsite to witness substantial finds of dozens of artifacts that make it clear the site is a long-term occupation site.”

“The most significant argument against a short-term hunting camp is the site location alone. This site is just a few minutes walking distance from the Connecticut River.”  

“The Connecticut River was the epicenter of early life as glacial recession occurred.  Nobody had to travel to search for resources if already at the river’s banks. Everything, everyone, and anything needed was provided by the river with travel, trade, and existing resources already located there, including at this location a choke point between the rocks and river for game, and a freshwater spring.”

Mark also pointed out that although the state’s archeologists claim to have “sampled” the known site sufficiently for information, they never even discovered any of the hearths that were indicated by all the charred items found. 

From the brand new 387-page draft final report, which is linked below:

Because of its rarity, and because the site is completely contained within the APE [Area of Project Impact] and cannot be avoided by the proposed roundabout, a DRP [Data Recovery Project] was necessary to gather data from this site. The site is small, and AHS estimated that it could be comprehensively sampled (~30%).

The charcoal recovered at Locus 1, along with the charred nut fragments and raspberry seeds, teamed with the heat-treated lithics, indicates that a hearth was almost certainly present during the site’s occupation.

The hearth at Locus 1 may lie outside the boundaries of the units that were excavated. At Locus 2, although heat treatment was documented, no charcoal was recovered. This hearth may also lie outside the boundaries of the units that have been excavated at this locus.

[It is unclear how the site’s purpose can be evaluated when the nearby hearths where people would have lived were not even located] 

Therefore, based on the debitage analyses, it is likely that raw-material procurement, early-stage reduction, final tool shaping, and tool maintenance activities occurred at Locus 1; in short, the entire gamut of tool production and use.

[Mark commented that in areas where tool production was done the ground is covered with sharp rock flakes which easily cut feet, which was serious before antibiotics, so these zones were usually some distance from living areas, and children were not allowed to go there]

The recovery of these scrapers, along with usewear evidence, demonstrated that hide-processing activities took place at Locus 1, and that the locus was not simply a place for tool production. Heavy tool use included the use of a large schist chopper to butcher a game animal as well, indicating that both animal butchery and production of secondary products, such hide-tanning took place at this locus.

[modern-day hide tanning takes approximately 6-10 weeks]

Based on these analyses, activities at Locus 2 were likely centered around hunting, butchering, and processing large game, including deer and bear, for food and tent or clothing materials. The collection of several large, rough choppers would suggest that expedient flaked tools were useful to site inhabitants in the butchery and disarticulation of limbs for foodways. 

The high proportion of utilized flakes at Locus 2 also supports the expedient butchery of large animals. Based on the presence of endscrapers and sidescrapers at this locus, deer and bear hides were also likely processed for tent or clothing materials.

Locus 2 displays a much higher percentage of tools relative to the entire lithic assemblage (5.7%), possibly indicating that more intentional production, use, and discard of tools occurred at this locus, or a longer duration of occupation and activities centered around use of formal stone tools.

Locus 2 has a greater number and variety of lithics, but whether this indicates a longer occupational duration, larger group of people present at the site, or more intensive use of activity areas is more difficult to determine.

[Dr. Gramly continually points out the obvious thing that should have been done (and still could be) is excavation of a trench between Locus 1 and Locus 2, given that they were determined to have been inhabited contemporaneously]

Large heavy tools, such as choppers and unifaces, were also commonly recovered at both loci, and used to butcher game animals. Groundstone tools were recovered from both loci, and were likely used to grind available plant resources into edible products.

Conclusion of Appendix E, Microwear Analysis:

Many tools were used in the procurement and processing of hunted game while a sizeable number of tools were also used to process bone, wood, or plant materials. Additionally, one multipurpose ground stone tool was identified, and evidence of a drilled hole was documented on a probable gorget fragment. 

This reveals that a wide range of resource procurement, processing, and fabrication tasks occurred at the site, especially considering the relatively small sample subjected to microwear analysis.

Microwear Analysis

[Conspicuously removed from this final draft report: “AHS recommends that the likely NRHP-eligible Skibiski Site be avoided by project activities.”]

What can I do?

According to Mark, there’s nothing new about the state’s archeological consultants tailoring final conclusions. If they don’t, they’re out of business.

The full 387-page report is available here. Highlighting mine. There are many interesting photos of new artifacts at the end which were never previously shown.

MassDOT has requested formal comments from “consulting parties” on this final draft by March 31st.

Although the public is not permitted to formally comment, Mark suggests that you ask your elected political representatives to in fact represent you and pass on any comments you may have, on the record, to MassDOT. Please reply if you have questions.

Thank you again for your support. Battling government corruption and fraud is a long road, but all the facts are well documented at this point. Hopefully, a new precedent can be set here for future generations, who are also currently watching our efforts and no doubt being inspired. 


BONUS: While this has NOT been inspected onsite by any tribal expert or archeologist yet, we recently discovered what appears to be a large two-person grinding stone in the woods approximately 150m from Loci 1 and 2. The rock seems to have been heavily shaped just for this purpose. 

We tried it out. Two people can sit quite comfortably on both sides of the stone simultaneously, with legs around the rock for stability, and from those fixed positions, both can grind exactly in the long indentation, both at the perfect angle. 

Here is a video.

This new discovery of course needs to be fully evaluated by professionals.

One thought on “MassDOT Introduces False Conclusion in Final Northampton Site Report

  1. This appears to represent a preponderance of evidence to support long-term habitation, indeed! I’m particularly struck by the potential grinding stone, and support the interpretation that it was indeed used as such. From your video, this object appears to be made of a distinctive quartzite, specifically the Cheshire quartzite. This rock is extremely hard, the hardest I am aware of in western Massachusetts. This formation outcrops in the Housatonic Valley, but not in the Pioneer Valley. Glaciers have transported boulders of this quartzite into the Westfield River basin, where they operate like rounded wrecking balls (as in Cummington, MA, for example), hard as they are, and these concentrate in the river due to their ability to crush rocks of other types in the river. The Westfield River boulder example illustrates 1) that though this quartzite is not necessarily confined to the far western portions of the state, it isn’t local, either. Very rarely does the Cheshire quartzite appear this far east, and this piece is notable for its impressive size, as such a large rock would have had to be carried by a glacier, if not moved with great labor. That is, humans living here could not have chosen a better rock for a grinding stone. Had it been found there such a large piece at this critical ecological location would have been seen as a fantastic gift from God, a coincidence of unusual fortune. Perhaps more likely, it would have been so valuable that it may have even been worth somehow moving its great mass to the site. Second, I believe it is reasonable to conclude that the well in it has been almost certainly been hewn. A close-up on the well toward the end of the video appears to show cut faces along its edge. Never have I observed the Cheshire quartzite to weather with deep recesses, like this rock. The Cheshire quartzite’s massive texture means that it doesn’t weather preferentially in any dimension, and almost invariably its boulders weather to highly smoothed spheroidal forms with few notches or creases at all, let alone deep wells.


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