From Western New York, coaching soccer and working on transforming an old funeral parlor into a gallery, I am not an archeologist, but have a keen eye for detail.

Preliminary images for 2017 Keuka dig

At noon today (EST), July 28, 2017, John proceeded with his iPad to the north end of the plot on Guyanoga Road to make establishing shots prior to placing a grid for formal digging at said location, over a small area next to a wastewater-septic tank (with digging initiated in 2015 for the purpose of depositing an additional tank to the system, to comply with a local ordinance in renovations of a residential structure next to, built circa 1830). After several artifacts and pieces of bone were set aside through the digging (many still perched on a weathered railroad tie set north of the space) research commenced and images were made of several larger stones found together as in a cache, beneath what was possibly a severely deteriorated wood-cover, in the northwest corner of the present excavation, about 1 meter beneath the surface.

Additional digging continued for a second day after initiated in 2015, removing soil and smaller stone piled now next to the present excavation. Research involving stone tools however, finally put the project on hold to this point. Stones removed from the cache and a few others, including sample #112, were brought inside to be photographed, and remain protected from the weather (and freeze-thaw cycles) separated also from additional stones removed from the second dig location, resulting from a waterline dig initiated in 2013, immediately south of the residence, the two sites about 100 feet apart.

1st image: looking west over the site; 2nd image: looking NE; 3rd image; closeup of assorted artifacts and unusual stone collected while clearing the existing system and additional material to the immediate west. Below: two hammerstones; for making tools and breaking bone.

Below: 2nd site, looking north, 100 ft south of wastewater-septic location.

Backed Spearhead and a Broadax

From the article “Finger Lakes Explorations at Keuka Lake,” the location dubbed Guyanoga Road-North, on survey (for lack of better terms to describe digging for a new septic tank), produced several unusual non-flint pieces that look to challenge the sense that humans first used only small stone tools only, and flint, for their foraging in the Finger Lakes. As indicated previously, the surrounding area may well have supported mastodon, and depending on when the stones were made, they may have been at the shores of a larger Keuka Lake. When European settlers finally arrived in the modern era, the lake had receded from the point where the site is now, leaving it effectively on a ledge, perhaps 30 feet or more above the lake level, with the shoreline at least a few hundred yards distant. It was also reported that they would have looked directly east into a dense forest of enormous basswood, filling the resultant valley north of the lake’s west branch. (See: Cleveland; History and Directory of Yates County, 1873.) Found at the north plot with what I consider a normal spear point, tagged sample #112 (see previous post), the following two stones were unearthed together with a few others and separate from #112, in a cache located at nearly 1 meter of depth, beneath a small layer of soft wood and/or decayed flora inconsistent with the surrounding strata of mostly clay. The pieces were indeed exciting when looked at closer, of similar ironstone as #112, noticing also the astounding primary knapping on the edge of the spear, with its more refined marks at the point, and the general shaping of both samples. And though they do look quite sturdy, and perhaps were used without consequence to their structure, while other samples appear to indicate some wear, aside from the break at one end of the broadaxe, the alternative implications of their apparent non-use are that they were intended for larger prey and never utilized, or were used for ritualistic reasons and perhaps even buried in ritual.

Broadaxe, front and back..

Finger Lakes Explorations at Keuka Lake


Located at the southern end of the last glacial advance, the Finger Lakes region is composed of a diverse landscape carved by consecutive advancements and recessions of glacial ice believed to have been from 2.4 – 3.2 Kilometers thick. Leaving behind large landscapes difficult to navigate by today’s standards, the predominantly north – south orientation of hills and valleys, with several large navigable lakes at the north end of the Susquehanna River system, lend themselves to the theory that humans made their way here from the Chesapeake Bay Area, which the Smithsonian Institute has collected data on over the past several years, indicating that humans may have used the waterway after crossing the Atlantic, as posited in recent years by Dennis Stanford of the Smithsonian – even pre-Holocene – and thus challenging the Bering Strait theory that early migrations only crossed into the Americas from Asia.

Recent discoveries of Mastodon remains near the base of the Hudson River system (Bowser Road Mastodon Site, Kingstown area;, also support the possibility that people arrived from either northward or eastward journeys as far back as 11k BCE. With known Mastodon remains found at Letchworth to the west of the Finger Lakes, and Clovis technology, found by William Ritchie at the Southeast end of Canandaigua Lake (considered to be some 13 kyo), it begs the question of earliest sustainable hunter-gathering in the region.

With the likelihood of sufficient numbers of large prey, the reality is also that earliest habitants, without large and accessible deposits of flint or obsidian material, used alternative stone technology for toolmaking.

Early site indications:

Uncovered, at the Northwest end of Keuka Lake (and fully south of the entirety of Canandaigua Lake) between Ritchie’s find at the southeast end of Canandaigua Lake (due-west some 40 Kilometers) and the Lamoka site (southeast some 40 Kilometers), through non-archeological excavations (intended to address wastewater management and initiate a new water line past a shallow well) at the base of a hill on a kame terrace, near what once would have been at the shore of Keuka Lake, samples were obtained amidst 1-2 meters of topsoil and clay-based soil above the region’s shale, with at least one storage pit beginning 1 m below the surface; a diverse range of ironstone, quartzite, and other assorted matter, with strata including layers of human activity, especially surrounding the well, with many pointed stones and flakes. Other deposits found at the northern end of the plot (near the wastewater management project) indicate stone worked with a Debitage Blank System of knapping typical of MSA shaping, or more specifically, for several ironstone points, an Acheulean-Levallois prepared core technique similar to that used in the Levant, the region surrounding the Eastern Mediterranean.

Today’s objective:

Initiate first digital images with Localized GPS, and establish a grid for continued and specified exploration of exposed wastewater management ground at north end of the plot. With the weather finally indicating several days without rain in the forecast, today looks to be an excellent opportunity to begin looking again more closely at the site.

Images pending:

Artifacts if any found today
Images from previously uncovered samples: