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A Sediment Story: Anthropological and Environmental Continuity and Change along the Hudson River Estuary

Author(s): Lucy Gill ; Dorothy Peteet

Year: 2016

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Summary

Wetlands have a long history of anthropogenic influence due to their proximity to watersheds, traditionally optimal localities for human settlement. Sediment stratigraphy from these ecosystems is an important source of paleoecological data, as they experience high depositional rates and, due to their anoxic environments, preserve organic material. Humans have acted upon one such watershed, the Hudson River Estuary, since the Paleo-Indian Period (10,500-8000 BCE) and have been a keystone species for much if not all of that time. To what extent have the cultural landscapes created by pre- and post-contact peoples resulted in change at the ecosystem scale? This study presents the results of a recent analysis of multiple soil cores extracted from Haverstraw tidal marshlands, adjacent to the widest part of the Hudson River. It utilizes loss-on-ignition, macrofossil analysis and X-Ray Fluorescence spectroscopy, in combination with Accelerator Mass Spectrometry radiocarbon dating, to construct a high-resolution paleoenvironmental record that complements ongoing archaeological investigations. Biotic composition indicates that despite the introduction of invasive species following European settlement in 1666 CE, key native species persist, evidencing sustainability of the ecosystem. Sediment chemistry, similarly, has been influenced by humans throughout the history of the tidal marsh but demonstrates the ecosystem’s long-term resilience.


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A Sediment Story: Anthropological and Environmental Continuity and Change along the Hudson River Estuary. Lucy Gill, Dorothy Peteet. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 404909)


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Spatial Coverage

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

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America