Saturday, August 17, 2013


Robert D. Mason

I found this coin Monday 12 August 2013 while field surface hunting.  I won't say exactly where or what field.  However, it was in the Town of Norwich.  I was surely startled when I picked it up.

1774 Silver Spanish 2 Reale coin.  Reale coins came in different sizes and
values.  1/2 reale, 1 reale, 2 reale, 4 and 8 reales.

Dei Gratia Carlous III   -   God Graces Charles III
Hispan Etind Rex         -   Hence the King of Spain

There is a mint mark indicating this was made in Bolivia.  The same coins
were made in many different Spanish colonies at the time.  The Assayer's
mark is J.R.

The shield and coat of arms has two lions, indicating Spain.

I have done some reading on the Internet and found that Spanish silver was commonly
used as currency in the American colonies and even into the early to mid

Too bad it has a hole in it, but that was a common practice, especially
during the Civil War.  It might be given to a girlfriend for a necklace and
remembrance piece when a young fellow went off to war.  I have also read
that sometimes farmers would carry their coins on a string so not to lose
them.  Sometimes they had no pockets, for that might be something more for
a wealthier man to have.

Charles III was King of Spain 1759 - 1788


Thursday, August 8, 2013


Donald A. Windsor

The Chenango Chapter of the New York State Archaeological Association held its annual picnic at the Rogers Center in Sherburne on Thursday evening 1 August 2013.  It started around 6:00 and ended around 7:45.

I do not have a group photo, so someone please send me one.  Here are the photos I took.

We had 19 participants; they were, in alphabetic order:  John Antonowicz, Leon Carlson, Barbara De Angelo, Marin Bennett, Monte Bennent, Rentha Bennett, Kevin DeSha, Vicky Jane, Bob Mason, A. Gail Merian, Charlene Moulton, Dave Moyer, Dan Noble,  Michael Raphael, Helen Tanner, Tyree Tanner, Don Windsor, Lila X, and Susan Avery Young.

Here is an action shot that Helen Tanner captured.


Friday, March 15, 2013


David Moyer  [Responding to the previous post.]

Don,  Yes, there are some who believe that stones were used to boil maple sap in big dugouts. You should know that most professional archaeologists and historians tend to agree that while possible there is no evidence that people did this in the prehistoric past. There is no ethnohistoric sources from the 17th century that talk about Indians making maple sugar including the entire Jesuit Relations.

This is a big topic, and there's a lot of evidence on both sides. People first began to recognize that Indians probably didn't make sugar before kettles beginning in the 1890s, so it's a long running debate. There is also excellent biological evidence that Natives did not eat sugar in their diets (think diabetes), and a lot of this debate for early sugaring has moved from the anthropology journals to the Journal of Ethnobiology- see bibliography.

That said, there have been many who have done experimental work on boiling maple sap with stones. In fact, if you want to see someone boiling sap in a dugout NOW is the time. My friend Barry Keegan has been doing experiments on prehistoric sap boiling for many years, and every Sunday in March he demonstrates it at the Farmer's Museum as part of their Pancake Breakfast fund raisers (They also demonstrate early historic sugaring techniques, but the prehistoric stuff is a real attention-getter). It's not a bad breakfast, and while not all the buildings at the museum are open to walk through you can wander the museum grounds and enter some of the buildings, even visit the Cardiff Giant without paying any admission charge- just breakfast.You could definitely get good pics for your blog and ask him a lot of questions. Barry published on his sap experiments in a brief article which I can make a copy of for you. I've also attached a short bibliography to get you started.

Barry believes that prehistoric people probably did boil sap, although he's told me as an aside that he hasn't ever produced a batch which you would consider edible. A big problem is that when you dump the stones into the sap the sap immediately adjacent to the stone becomes thicker and sticks to the stones, creating sticky hot rocks, which he ends up having to scrape with a stick or paddle. Dirt, silt and quartz granules from the granite leach out of the stones as well, and while the result impresses museum visitors, it would not impress Julia Child. Impressive but not effective. He's told me they definitely didn't use pots, and that all the pots he's ever tried have broken as part of the process, hence the the dugout. Last we spoke he said he was thinking of trying soapstone pots directly in the fire, but this is even less supported ethnohistorically...

BTW you can also condense sap by leaving it out to freeze...

BTW- dugouts were used as gutters adjacent to long houses to keep the ground dry, collect water in case of fire, etc.. Bill Engelbrect talked about this a little bit at a state meeting a few years ago.    Dave

Thursday, March 14, 2013


Donald A. Windsor

On Maple Sunday, 10 March 2013, at the Chenango County Historical Society's Museum campus, Reggie Card of Earlville told me that dugout logs were used by Native Americans to evaporate maple sap.  They put the sap into the log and then dropped in hot stones to heat it.  The model resembled a dugout canoe, so when I saw it, I immediately thought of Dave Walker's dugout canoe. 

Here are photos of the model that Reggie built for his presentations on the early history of maple syrup.

I now wonder if our Dave Walker canoe, which does not look as if it could safely transport anyone, could have been used for maple syrup.  We suspect it was used for harvesting wild rice. Background on this canoe is on this blog posting of Tuesday August 16, 2011.  Also, its shallow dugout and wide area would enhance concentration by freezing. 

Google has a lot on dugout logs for sap, but so far it seems to be all anecdotal comments.  I am searching for a real archaeological paper. Scientific papers on Google are usually not readable by nonsubscribers, so I may have to rely on interlibrary loans.

I asked David Moyer for his comments.  They appear on the next posting.