Conclusion

For all major periods of site use (Late Archaic, Transitional, Early Woodland), people visited (and in some cases revisited) the Stratton Mill Creek site and established seasonal camps during specific parts of the year. During each major period of site use, what people did at Stratton Mill Creek and their organization of space differed to some extent. One hearth feature was associated with every major period of site use. During the Late Archaic period, we have evidence for multiple periods of site use. During the earliest period of Late Archaic site use (Ab4 horizon), activities by occupants included plant processing, hunting/butchering, and stone tool making. A possible smudge pit suggests hide work. The site was used similarly during the later Late Archaic period of site use (Ab3 horizon). Activities included plant processing and stone tool making. During the Transitional period, people also repeatedly occupied the site. Site activities included stone tool making, plant processing, hunting/butchering, and fishing. During the Early Woodland, site use was minimal as evidenced by the single activity cluster. Unique for this period is the large roasting platform, although these are common to Transitional sites in the Susquehanna Valley of Pennsylvania. Six post molds were also associated with the Early Woodland, although there is no clear patterning. Site activities included plant processing, stone tool making, hunting/butchering, and fishing.

The presence of stone material that is not local to the Stratton Mill Creek site suggests long distance travel and/or trade networks and alliances. These materials include jasper, rhyolite, Normanskill chert, and quartzite. Jasper and rhyolite are found approximately 200 km south of the site in southeastern Pennsylvania within the Lehigh River Valley. Normanskill chert/argillite is found in eastern and southeastern New York State. Quartzite may be from southeast New York State or southern New England.

One of the unique contributions of this research was the discovery of a feature on the landscape that challenged archaeologists to explore a range of interpretations. From chronology to function this feature spurred significant debates. The bare facts are that people dug an oval ditch measuring minimally 14 m (46 ft) by 9 m (30 ft) on a terrace above the Susquehanna River. The ditch covered about 150 m2 of space. At some point, probably after A.D. 1600, the ditch was filled with wood (probably post-A.D. 1600 trees) that intensively burned creating fire-reddened soils and logs within the ditch. No reliable dates or diagnostic artifacts are available for this feature. Some objects with possible ritual significance, hematite/red ochre and polished slate, are present but so are artifacts used for hunting, butchering, and plant processing by hunter-gatherers. Post molds are associated with parts of the perimeter and also cluster at opposite ends within. The discovery of this structural ring/ditch feature provides the potential for researchers to further analyze its characteristics, share the information with other regional researchers, and continue to try to understand when and how this unusual feature was used.