Quinebaug River Prehistoric Archaeological District

A Connecticut State Archaeological Preserve


A total of 976 artifacts were found at the Districtís sites. Prehistoric stone (or lithic) artifacts were by far the most common, making up about 80% of all finds. Historic ceramics represent the next most common class of finds, but these make up only 7% of all materials recovered. Most of the historic artifacts date to the 19th century and most likely represent refuse-disposal or manuring associated with nearby farms.

Most of the stone artifacts (661) represent waste material (or debitage) discarded during the manufacture of stone tools. Such artifacts are very common at prehistoric sites where stone tools were manufactured and re-sharpened. The manufacture of a single tool might result in the production of hundreds of small flakes of stone.

Nearly 100 stone tool fragments were also found. Over half of these are projectile point fragments or unfinished tools that were probably meant to be made into projectile points or knives. Thirty-two of the tools found represent scrapers and similar fragments of reworked flakes. These general-purpose tools were likely used for a variety of tool-manufacturing and food-processing tasks. Some other interesting artifacts include a partially finished spear-thrower (atlatl) weight, a paint stone of red
Sources of the stone materials found in the district
Location of lithic materials in relation to Canterbury, Connecticut
pigment, and two stone drills. The oldest projectile point type found dates to between 8,000 and 7,000 years ago. This Neville Stemmed point is made of locally available quartzite, as are most others found in the region. Two projectile points date between about 5,000 and 4,000 years ago. These Squibnocket Stemmed and Squibnocket Triangle types are manufactured from quartzite and quartz, which are local resources. Three scraping tools appear to have been re-manufactured from Meadowood points, which date to about 2,400 years ago. All three are manufactured from cherts likely obtained from New York State. Most of the projectile points recovered date to between about 1,500 and 500 years ago. These include a Jackís Reef Pentagonal point manufactured from jasper, 10 Levanna points , and 3 Madison points. Overall, these relatively well-dated artifact types indicate that most activity along the river occurred here after about 1,500 years ago, although people clearly used the area for thousands of years. Also of importance, three projectile points did not match currently known types.

In addition to stone tools and debitage, several pieces of Native American pottery were found at two of the sites. Pottery was first made in southern New England around 3,000 years ago and remained an important part of food preparation until European trade goods became widely available in the late 1600s.

A single charcoal-flecked soil stain (a feature) was noted during the excavation of one of the sites. The soil stain, radiocarbon-dated to approximately 750 years ago, is likely the remnants of a small cooking hearth.

Click the thumbnails below for a better look at some of the district's artifacts.

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