Anthro 2020 SecA
May 16, 2013
The People of Ponokomita
The country of Fatswaller has a rich archaeological history and the ancient people
of the Ponokomita river basin are no exception. The Ponokomita people lived along the
valley and surrounding foot hills for over 6,000 years. In the earlier years the people
followed a seasonal transhumance pattern of life, moving form site to site. The oldest
sites are River Runs Through it, Yodeling Goatherd, Terrace, Farmer Brown, and Braying
Llama. There is no evidence of any permanent housing in the lower strata, further
upholding the notion that the people were mobile during this time. Around 3,500-3,000 a
volcano erupted and changed everything. After layers of volcanic ash there is an increase
in trade and subsistence technology. Soon after agriculture is discovered and utilized and
thus permanent adobe housing is utilized and their housing pattern become more of a
home-base with resource sites surrounding them. The two biggest home bases became
River Runs Through It and Narrows, with many of the older sites becoming abandoned or
turning into resource sites. The increase in trade correlates with the incorporation of
domestic animals and evidence of agriculture.
The Narrows site functioned as a home base when it wasn’t flooded. There is no
evidence of people having lived here before the great volcano eruption. There is
evidence that the site could have first started as a resource site for fish and then later became a place of more permanent residence. Stratum 7, 6, and 5 all contain no
In stratum 4 all that is found are fish bones and fishing supplies. There is
evidence that there was trade during this time, with the small amount of non-local chert.
Further evidence that the Narrows was used as a resource site during stratum 4 is the lack
of early stage flakes in the stone debitage. This suggests that people were not making
tools here, that they were only sharpening the tools that would have been previous
created. Often times tool making is done in home-bases or places of more permanent
Stratum 3 shows evidence of semi-permanent structures and the development of
more generalized activities at the site. The site features post holes at this stratum and
roasting pits. People may have come here during this time for longer periods of times for
resources. There is still much fishing but there are also carbonized seeds of squash,
pepper, and maize; possibly used for agriculture. There re also baskets and pottery in this
stratum that could have been used to carry resources back to the home-base or to store the
materials. Because the pottery is marked as undecorated it is more likely that it was used
for more functional purposes rather than as decorative or ceremonial, further pointing
towards the site being used more solely for collecting raw materials than residence. This
stratum contains far more non-local chert that must have been traded in indicating that
they have now established strong contact with other groups.
Stratum 2 is flooded.
Stratum 1 is when people started living at The Narrows. There are 12 adobe
structures, permanent homes that people lived in year round. At this point they have become a food producing community with evidence of a plow and domestic turkeys.
They have become both pastoralists and agriculturalists, which explains the more
permanent housing. People occupied the Narrows and River Runs Through It during this
time in permanent housing, the biggest the community has ever been. Trading has
continued successfully with 100% nonlocal chert and the introduction of iron. People
continued to fish and hunt, but this is the first time that anything other than fish bones
have been found at this site. They were also milling their wheat and barley for the first
time, creating flour and changing their diet quite drastically. There is also chord-marked
pottery. This surface manipulation is often applied to pottery that serves as more of a
decorative, showy, piece rather than functional.
Blue Mountain was a site used purely for collecting obsidian for stone tools.
People came up here and started work on the projectile point before finishing the tool (the
debitage mainly consists of early-stage flakes in both stratums.) There are only 3
stratums at this site.
Stratum 3 consists of debitage and projectile point type O. This stratum comes
before the great volcano eruption and is very old; they used this site for a long time. Stratum 2 is VOLCANO
Stratum 1 has the same artifacts as stratum 3 but about twice as much. The
projectile point type changed from type O to a more specialized type B that requires more
intricate lithic technology. Also interesting to note is that it is after the volcano that trade
begins and all the tools found in the home bases are made of chert. But the greater
numbers in the top stratum mean bigger production, but the people weren’t using them.
This could mean that they traded their obsidian for their chert, or it could just be a result
from the increase in the population. Without dating it is difficult to tell. BOREAL
Boreal functioned as a resource/hunting site. It has 4 strata.
Stratum 4 consists of projectile points, debitage, and thin knives. Projectile points
O and Q were found, likely made of blue mountain obsidian although it is not specified in
the notes. It is likely that these points were made at the Blue Mountain site. But some of
the stone debitage were quartzite river cobble, likely collected from the Ponokamita river.
The debitage types suggest that any tool work done at this site was for re-sharpening,
again suggesting that it was a hunting camp where people came to rest and regroup. Stratum 3 is VOLCANO. Stratum 2 contain much the same artifacts as stratum 4 but all projectile points
found were type B, which coincides with the evidence found at the Blue Mountain site.
There is also less debitage made of river cobbles in favor of the obsidian. There was a
stone adze found as well which suggests that people may have also used this site for
collecting the raw materials for constructing their adobe houses. The hearth in this
stratum also suggests that this site became a more permanent resource collection camp.
Stratum 1 contains no artifacts. The site was abandoned, perhaps because of over
hunting or logging.
The Braying Llama site served as the longest occupied home-base site for the
Fatswaller people. People were living here before the great volcano eruption and it has
the largest number of strata with evidence of human occupancey. This site defies
tradition for the previous home-base sites and is located further up the valley away from
Strata 6 is the oldest dated strata in the study with radiocarbon dates of coyote
bones dating 5,675 radiocarbon years. This means people were probably living in the
Ponokamita river basin for at least 6,000 years. This stratum only contains faunal
remains of forest animals and no fish of any kind. This may mean that between 5,000 or
3,000 years ago the Fatswaller people discovered fishing. There are not post holes or
house pits to point at any form of permanent housing, which may mean that at this time
the people were not very sedentary and move