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8 May 2005
Bog drew Indians to Cranberry, Pennsylvania

Newly uncovered archaeological evidence shows that American Indians were drawn in Cranberry (Pennsylvania, USA) 3,000 years ago by a huge cranberry bog and turned the area into a fall-time center for foraging, hunting and trading.
The story of the bog and the American Indians who frequented it - a story unearthed during excavations of the planned Graham Park - has been the subject of a presentation by urban archaeologist Christine Davis at the monthly meeting of the Allegheny Chapter of the Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology.
     "We knew it had appeared on different maps (of Indian trails) in the past, so it was not a surprise when Christine found significant artifacts there," Cranberry Manager Jerry Andree said. "But the extent of it was like 'Wow.'" Davis said four campsites previously had been documented, but the excavation uncovered six more. Some were carbon-dated to 1000 BCE. More than 3,400 artifacts were recovered, including stone scrapers, arrowheads, knives, hammers, hearths, seeds and nuts, all of which helped paint a picture of what happened at the site.
     The excavation also pinpointed the source of the township's name. "We found all this peat and thought, 'What is this stuff?' And we found that it was the cranberry bog that Cranberry was named for," Davis said. She said American Indians were drawn to the 2,000-acre bog to collect the berries and to hunt the animals, including bears, drawn there for the food. She said the bog developed into an important seasonal trading outpost. "The bogs were really hot spots for all kinds of resources," she said. Farmers drained the bog in the early decades of the 19th century.
     Researchers also found tools made of stone from Flint Ridge, Ohio, more than 150 miles away. Davis said small chips of the prized, reddish stone have been found throughout the region, but the large amounts at the bog site indicate that it was traded there. Davis said the Flint Ridge stone links the American Indians in Cranberry to the Ohio-based Adena and Hopewell cultures -often called "mound builders" because of the large burial mounds they constructed. She said extended family groups of perhaps 15 people would come to the area from permanent settlements along the region's rivers and camp out for a week or so. She said excavators uncovered small, poorly made "toy" arrowheads indicating that the visiting groups included children. Davis said there probably were many more campsites than the 10 discovered, but most were covered up later when the turnpike was built through the middle of the former bog.

Source: Tribune-Review (1 May 2005)

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