12,500 Years of History.
The Material Culture of the
Indigenous People of eastern Long Island.
Artifacts from museums and private collections gives us information about how people lived on the Twin Forks before the Contact period. Most of the material culture; objects made of bone, antler, fiber, plant material, rawhide, animal skins, or wood have vanished due to the acidic nature of the soil. The remaining artifacts are almost all made of stone, shell or pottery.
The Southold Indian Museum has a collection of early 20th century cigar boxes filled with
pottery fragments and marine shells. Shells have spiritual power to Native people worldwide. On the East End, artisans crafted whelk columns (top right photo, lower left) into finely crafted
beads called wampum. Pottery can be dated according to the style of decoration.
Ceramic bowl from the Late Woodland period approximately 1,000 years old.
Made from local clay gathered at places like Indian Island and tempered with ground shell or grit, it's decoration of knobbed ornaments is unusual.
Scorch marks indicate it was placed near a fire. Someone once ate or prepared food in this vessel.
Pigment-Paint Making Tools
The wooden bowl to the left is the only one known.
Found in a bog that deprived wood-eating bacteria of oxygen, this ancient artifact was probably a common household object.
Crafted from stone tools like adzes, axes and gouges it would have taken considerable time to make.
Currently undated, its type may date back 8,000 years.
Artifacts from Fishers Island
Three small hammers
The image below shows a quartz beach cobble that has been struck to produce flakes used for tool or projectile making. It was found by a geologist planting a bush in his backyard.
The large vessel below holds about five gallons and was found in Jamesport. The site was a farm excavated by Charles Goddard in the 1920's. Many of the artifacts are at the Southold Indian Museum. This piece stayed with the family until the present day.
The grooved hammer was found by Southold Town Fire Chief Nat Booth in the 1920's.