Reinterpreting Winney’s Rift: Material culture, language, and ethnogenesis outside of Iroquoia

Author(s): Matthew Kroot

Year: 2016


Winney’s Rift, located along Fish Creek in Saratoga County, New York, has been the focus of several systematic and publicly reported excavations, as well as countless disturbances by looters, collectors, and amateur archaeologists. This paper reviews the history of material recovery and interpretation by these various parties before reexamining the anthropological significance of the site. Reported artifacts show occupations at the site ranging from two Clovis points through to present-day materials. The most recent systematic professional excavations at the site show the depth and density of materials recovered continuously increasing during the Middle and Late Woodland periods. The excavators interpreted the site as a nucleating central settlement at this time, occupied by Algonquian speakers utilizing pottery, which shared traits with both Ancestral Iroquoian and Algonquian ceramics. In the years since these results were published nearly all of the concepts utilized in this interpretation have undergone scrutiny in the broader literature. By revisiting the materials recovered from the site and their spatial, environmental, and cultural contexts, this paper shows that the heuristic concept of ethnogenesis as a way of understanding Northern Iroquoian speaking communities can also provide insights into those communities that did not become Iroquoian.

Cite this Record

Reinterpreting Winney’s Rift: Material culture, language, and ethnogenesis outside of Iroquoia. Matthew Kroot. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 404709)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -80.815; min lat: 39.3 ; max long: -66.753; max lat: 47.398 ;