Friday, July 18, 2008

THE ARC SITE - The largest known Paleo Indian site in New York State

by SRAC Member, Stanley Vanderlaan, Albion, NY

The largest known Paleo Indian site in New York State was discovered by my dad, Jacob, and this writer in 1984 near Oakfield, New York (between Buffalo and Rochester). It was named the Arc Site and covers well over one hundred acres, which we have surface hunted many times. Hundreds of end and side scrapers (broken and complete) have been recovered. Also, many knives, spokeshaves, drills, gravers, limaces, sickles and preforms were found. Over 60 different fluted points (Clovis) are represented. Many thousands of waste flakes found shows that tools were made or resharpened here.
Most of the artifacts are made of local Onodaga chert, but about 5% are of Pennsylvania Jasper or Argilite, Eastern New York State Onondage, Flint Ridge (Ohio) or Canadian material.

These exotic (non-local) tools were carried into this area when they first arrived, as they didn't know if tool making stone existed here. Their lives depended on reliable tools.

Many of the fluted points represented are of bases only. This suggests that the tips were sometimes broken off the spears at the killing areas and that the wooden spear shafts were brought back to the camp where the broken flint bases were detached and discarded, then new points installed. Caribou were probably the main food source here as this provided food, shelter and clothing.

It is possible that these early hunters came to this area from the Shoop Site in Pennsylvania seasonally to intercept the caribou herds that were going east to the calving grounds in the Adirondack foothills in the Spring and southwest to Western Pennsylvania and Ohio in the Fall.

There is a high hill near the site from where, on a clear day, one can see Lake Ontario. From here, I suspect that these early hunters could have seen the receding glacier far to the North.

Since this is such an important site, I have mapped in each of the artifacts as they were found. We have a couple of radio carbon dates for the Arc Site: 10,370 plus or minus 108 and 11,700 plus or minus 110 years old.

Thanks to Jack Holland at the Buffalo Museum for measuring, weighing and numbering over 1700 tool specimens from this site.


  1. nice site and great job recording everything...ryan

  2. sweet! I'm here in CNY, we have a few Lamoka and later sites by us

  3. excellent. WE have a site in Northeastern NY with many of the same articles. No where near as many points though. This is amazing.