2009 Portland GSA Annual Meeting (18-21 October 2009)

Paper No. 15
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:00 PM


PEDLER, David1, MCCOY, Curtis1, GROTE, Todd2 and QUINN, Allen1, (1)Mercyhurst Archaeological Institute, Mercyhurst College, 501 East 38th Street, Erie, PA 16546, (2)Department of Geology, Allegheny College, 520 North Main Street, Meadville, PA 16335, dpedler@mercyhurst.edu

The Pennsylvania portion of the Lake Erie watershed covers 1,315 km2 (508 mi2), is roughly bisected by two physiographic zones (the Eastern Lake section of the Central Lowland province and the Glaciated Pittsburgh Plateau section of the Appalachian Plateaus province), and contains a total of 209 archaeological sites registered by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. The vast majority (n=189) of these sites are located within the more heavily populated and extensively developed Eastern Lake section and almost half of that majority (n=92) are located in urban areas. A crucial determinant in archaeological site location appears to be proximity to the well-drained, gravelly and sandy soils developed on former Pleistocene beach ridges—predominantly the Whittlesey and Warren III strands standing at elevations of ca. 225.5 m (740 ft) and 204.2 m (670 ft) above msl, respectively. Geographic information systems (GIS) software was employed to determine the locations of those beach ridges, which were merged with the mapped locations of their associated Ottawa and Connotton series soils, to analyze the distributions of archaeological sites. Analysis indicates that over 90 percent of the watershed's archaeological sites occur within 1 km (0.6 mi) of the Pleistocene beach ridge features and associated soils, which combine for only ca. 15 percent of the watershed's total area. The archaeological relationships that exist between the watershed‛s two physiographic zones remain unclear, but it is minimally apparent that the Glaciated Pittsburgh Plateau was only lightly utilized by the region's prehistoric and early historic peoples.