Lewis Henry Morgan Chapter Sponsored Digs

L. H. Morgan Chapter Summer Dig

Season 2019: August 10-11 and August 17-18

The Tram Site, near Lima, NY

This summer the Morgan Chapter returns to the Tram Site. The Tram Site (Hne 6-4) is that of a large, palisaded Seneca Iroquois village of an estimated 800 to 1000 persons residing there from about A.D. 1580 to 1595, a period when the Seneca were on the brink of cultural change. They were just beginning to acquire small amounts of exotic European goods such as glass beads, iron tools and brass kettles, although probably not yet meeting European traders face to face. Unbeknownst to anyone at the time, of course, was the impact that Europeans and the goods they would supply in exchange for furs would eventually have on the traditional Seneca way of life and culture.

Traces of the palisade enclosure (i.e., oval ditch and embankments) still remained when a Smithsonian survey of the site was undertaken by Ephraim Squier around 1850, but these have now all but disappeared. Although we know a great deal about the material culture of these people through excavations that have taken place at the site over the last 160+ years, the extent of the village and the size and distribution of the residential structures in it remain open to question. There is slight evidence that the palisade may have been repositioned—either to expand or contract the size of the village, at some point in its history. These questions regarding the site’s settlement pattern will represent the focus of this year’s Morgan Chapter excavations.

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