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The White Springs Project

The White Springs Project was initiated by researchers from Cornell University and Ithaca College in 2007 to examine the local consequences of turbulent times, particularly the impact of warfare and challenging political-economic conditions on community structure, house forms, and material practices at the site. The project extends the domestic-context archaeological database for theeastern principal Seneca community, bridging the copious (but understudied) data from the preceding Ganondagan site (circa1670-1687) and information from the subsequent Townley-Read site (circa 1715-1754), as reported in Jordan’s The Seneca Restoration,1715-1754: An Iroquois Local Political Economy (University Press of Florida, 2008). The record from these three sites documentsthoroughgoing cultural changes in the history of a single community, and in fact changed practices by the same individuals living in twoor three different locations.

Documents and artifactual evidence suggest that White Springs was founded in a forced relocation after a French-led force burned allfour major villages in the Seneca homeland in 1687. Warfare between the Five Nations Iroquois (or Haudenosaunee), Europeancolonists, and other Native groups continued during the first decade at White Springs. Major peace treaties concluded in 1700-1701improved the situation, but sporadic violence continued into the eighteenth century. In about 1715, the White Springs Senecas moved toa series of smaller neighborhoods to the southwest. This relocation was prompted both by improving regional political conditions anddiminishing local resources, particularly firewood.

Fieldwork has consisted of excavation, surface collection, and a multi-instrument, high-resolution archaeogeophysical survey of an areaof over 5 hectares. The site was a densely-occupied, nucleated town that likely occupied an area of 2-3 hectares and housed 1000-2000residents. Future fieldwork will try to determine whether a palisade was constructed at the site, and improve understanding of residentialarchitecture.

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Project Overview:

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