With National Science Foundation support, Dr. Cheryl Claassen will conduct a third and final season of archaeological excavation at the site of Dogan point which is located in the Hudson River Valley of New York State. She and her collaborators will then analyze the cultural, faunal and floral materials collected, set these in a geomorphological context, and prepare the results for publication. The Dogan Point site was extensively excavated by an amateur archaeologist in the late 1960s. It produced, from its lowest levels, giant oyster shell which was dated to the 7th millennium BC. This was of great interest to archaeologists because it represented the oldest date in eastern North America for human utilization of shellfish resources. However because of the amateur nature of the excavation and unsatisfactory data recording, archaeologists have been reluctant to accept the results. Dr. Claassen's research has indicated that these early dates are in fact correct and the goals of this additional work are to provide further evidence and prepare it for publication. While evidence for human use of specialized resources such as shellfish extend back to a much earlier time period in the Old World, in North America a similar pattern appears strangely late in time and archaeologists have wondered why this might be so. Some have argued that such specialized resource utilization in fact does extend further back but relevant sites currently lie below sea level. Others argue that because sea levels had not stabilized, human groups did not recognize the food potential of such areas. The original early dates from Dogan Point were important because they lent strong support to the former contention. However, because of the nature of the early excavations, they were widely questioned and Dr. Claassen's work is significant because it confirms the original conclusion. This work is important for several reasons. It will provide data of interest to many North Americanist archaeologists. It will increase our understanding of prehistoric subsistence adaptations and will assist in researcher and student training in an undergraduate institution.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences (BCS)
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John E. Yellen
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Appalachian State University
United States
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