12,000-year-old artifacts found on Mashantucket Pequot reservation

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MASHANTUCKET--One of the oldest set of artifacts found in New England was just located on the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation.

The southern Connecticut reservation is the nation's oldest continuously occupied Native American reservation, and the research center on the property has found more than 250 archaeological sites that span 12,000 years of life.

The artifacts recently found are associated with the region's earliest residents, the Paleoindians, and most recently discovered items are 12,000 years old, making it the fourth and oldest Paleoindian site found on tribal lands.

"To be the first person to pick up an artifact that was last dropped at the end of the last ice age, 12,000 years ago, is a pretty unique experience,” said Zach Singer, one of the archaeologists who uncovered the artifacts.

The discovery was made by researchers from the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center and from UConn's Archaeological Field School as part of a routine, two-year excavation and archaeological survey of the tribal grounds.

Singer said, "Every different artifact we found helped to build this story to learn about kind of a moment in time that these Paleoindians had camped at Mashantucket."

Items found include tools, specifically spear tips made in the Paleoindian "fluted point" style, as well as hunting and gathering tools and items used to butcher, scrape and tan hide, and make clothes. The museum says the people who lived at this site would have relied on caribou, waterfowl, and nearby wetland plants to create the tools.

The researchers also say that most of the artifacts found were made from stone that came from Pennsylvania, New York and Maine, which would indicate that the Paleoindians traveled a lot.

“This site is part of an important Paleo-Indian landscape; one of the earliest and most extensive ever identified in North America,” said Kevin McBride, PhD and director of research at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center.

The artifacts will eventually be put on display at the museum.