Monday, July 23, 2012

Tuesday, Aug. 7th: “Margaret Hastings, WWII WAC Lost in the Pacific”

“Margaret Hastings, WWII WAC Lost in the Pacific”
By Emma Sedore   
Tuesday, August 7th
6:30 - 7:30pm

SRAC welcomes back Owego historian, Emma Sedore for a night of historically significant storytelling about Margaret Hastings, from Owego NY - who was a WWII WAC who was lost in the Pacific.

The presentation covers the true story that took place in May of 1945 and received the greatest amount of coverage, from both newspapers and radio than any other single episode of WWII - and the main attraction was a petite WAC Corporal by the name of Margaret J. Hastings from Owego, N.Y. It began as a pleasure flight for 24 military personnel in a C-47 from Hollandia, New Guinea and ended in tragedy. The account of how the three survivors, two men and a woman, lived to tell their saga of being trapped in "Shangri-La" and of the ingenuity and courage it took for rescuing them.

Sedore's ability to engage and entertain the audience with her lively storytelling about real people and real subjects makes her presentations a must see for all ages.

A general admission donation of $6 for adults and $4 for SRAC members is requested.(Free admission for all students everyday at SRAC.) Free admission to the SRAC exhibit hall is included in this donation. For more information, visit, email, or call the Center at 607-565-7960.

Markets for Some Artifacts are Disappearing

The New York Times is reporting that an agreement by many museum directors to turn away antiquities without the proper provenance has made a stunning effect on the value of antiquities and their ability to be sold.

At SRAC,  I have always been against the buying and selling of artifacts and making what I believe to be scientific evidence a marketable item. I cannot count how many times someone has come in to SRAC with muddy hands looking for us to give them a price for their arrowheads or even more rare artifacts that they just found in our fields - and I cannot tell you the horrendous effect it has made on our understanding of the prehistory of our area. In fact, SRAC was made to save those collections that are out there when the collectors are ready to empty them out of their homes or family members are no longer interested in preserving them.

Tioga Point Museum Founder and my hero - Louise Welles Murray once said it best, "Archaeology has taken vast strides, and the search for Indian artifacts without making written records is considered vandalism. The skilled archaeologist deplores the fact that sites have been "dug to death" when they might have been "dug to life for the benefit of science." ("American Anthropologist": 1921) She also believed that "all Indian relics when disconnected from the place where they were found are more surely lost than if still buried in the earth." (“Old Tioga Point and Early Athens”:1908)

While we do have some people who go to auctions and try to buy artifacts to try to save them, the truth is that most of the rare artifacts have been bought up by individual collectors or museums that have huge cash flow and a heads up call from the auction house when the rare things are going on the block. Unfortunately, as a result there ends up being little or no concern for the artifacts actually being evidence of our past that can be used for research.

My hope is that by making the artifacts less likely to be sold, they might just have a better chance to be saved instead. If nothing else - it seems the best option out there at the moment to keep people from taking things from our fields and immediately selling them on eBay.

Read the full article here:

Saturday, July 21, 2012

SRAC Assists in NYS Archaeology Research

Some of the latest research concerning a little known prehistoric artifact called a "birdstone" has been published in the recent volume New York State's archaeological journal, "The Bulletin." The article, "Birdstones: New Inferences Based on Examples From  the Area Around Waverly, New York" was written by Dr. Marshall Joseph Becker, West Chester University, West Chester Pennsylvania and uses information supplied to him by the Susquehanna River Archaeological Center to show that this rare artifact mostly found around the areas of the Great Lakes and Ohio has a significant existence in the region surrounding Waverly, NY.

The author states, "Birdstones are rare in Pennsylvania, and their presence at this location provides insights into ancient trade along the Susquehanna River... Townsend's distribution map reveals a significant scattering in the New York - Pennsylvania border area near Waverly, NY. This concentration is reinforced by recent observations by Deb Twigg (2006:3) that a number of examples remain in private as well as public hands in the area near Spanish Hill."

The article continues by using 7 specific birdstones reported by SRAC in their own collections as well as SRAC member private collections. Some of the birdstones were reported as early as 1921, by Tioga Point Museum founder, Louise Welles Murray.

Becker goes on to state, "Of particular note is the finding that these seven examples are the only birdstones known from Tioga County, NY...The information ...merits further attention. These numbers reflect a seemingly high incidence..."

What were birdstones used for remain to be a mystery, but the most common theories are that they were used as an atlatl weight, a flute ornament, or even a piece to a headdress. Since they were used by a people that lived approximately 3 - 4,000 years ago in a prehistoric time period that is referred to as the "Late Archaic" period, the item(s) that they were associated with have simply rotted away long ago.

Dr. Becker concluded the article, "The finds of seven birdstones clustered in the area of Waverly, NY within and extensive area from which no other examples are known, suggests the presence of special activities at or around the location. These finds may reveal an important transit point in the Susquehanna River Trade route from central New York down to the Chesapeake Bay during the Late Archaic to Early Woodland period."

SRAC is proud to be able to use their collections and research materials to assist further research by the scientists of Pennsylvania and New York, and want to thank Dr. Becker and so many other professionals that have used our resources to further the understanding of our prehistoric past.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Back to School Back Pack Give Away!

DO WHAT YOU CAN FOR OUR KIDS: The Red Door Thrift Store and Coffee Shop and SRAC are teaming together to help Waverly kids get ready to back to school by hosting a back pack giveaway on Friday, August 24th from 1-4pm. The first 300 kids will be able to get a free back pack loaded with needed school supplies for the school year for FREE, and we are also planning free refreshments, carnival games, face painting and so much more!

As many of you know - Waverly students are required to bring their own supplies such as crayons, glue sticks, pencils, folders, erasers, loose paper, pens, spiral notebooks, three ring binders and marble composition notebooks. This can be very stressful for many families, and we want to help. We plan to have as much of these supplies on hand AS WELL AS THE BACKPACKS for free. Each carnival game will also have more supplies and even books that each child can win during the event as well.

How can you help? donate any of the supplies listed above or send a check made out to SRAC, 345 Broad Street, Waverly, NY 14892 and we will use it to buy the supplies. ALL CASH WILL GO TOWARDS THE SUPPLIES LISTED ABOVE. SRAC is a 501C3 and your generous gift can be claimed for a tax deduction.

Please let us know if you wish to remain anonymous - otherwise we will be including your business name in our sponsors list in all news releases.

Please contact me with any other questions you might have! Thanks for whatever you can do!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

1 time offer to Current SRAC Members ONLY

SRAC is offering it's current members an exclusive chance to purchase a piece of our local history and vintage art in the form of 1970's Saarinen Tulip chairs with aluminum base.

They have been discussed nationwide by collectors here::

SRAC is making this offer to its members for just $99 per chair. (SRAC has sold these chairs for as much as $250 per chair recently.) Many will remember sitting in these chairs in the Guthrie Clinic waiting areas several decades ago.

Designed by Eero Saarinen in 1956, this functional work of art represents the most important classics in modern furniture history. It featured a sculptural continuous seat and back which rested on a curved tapered base that became a key character trait of the pedestal series. The chair is often considered "space age" for its futuristic use of curves and artificial materials. The design was popularized by its use on the original Star Trek television series (1966-69). Saarinen's tulip chair won the prestigious Museum of Modern Art Award in 1969, the Federal Award for Industrial Design in 1969 as well as the Design Center Stuttgart Award in 1962. The chairs at SRAC are vintage pieces of art created by the Kreuger Company in the 1970's - in fact the Kreuger company (from Wisconsin) who made these specific chairs now at SRAC recently bought a set of four from us for their own museum!

The chairs at SRAC were donated by the Guthrie Clinic in 2008, and have been in use in our lecture hall since then. However, while nice and comfortable, they are cumbersome to move and store and are just not the right chairs for an ever changing event space. We recently received a donation from the Waverly Community Chest to pay 1/2 of the amount needed to purchase replacement chairs, and have been selling the chairs for the past 6 months on ebay for as much as $250 per chair.

Now we have decided that our members should have a chance to get a piece of nostalgia and vintage art as well for a VERY low price of $99 per chair for only a short time and while supplies last. (see compared pricing here **NOTE: many of these are not vintage!: )

If you are a CURRENT SRAC MEMBER we will let you come and pick out your chair(s)and take it home that day! New members can join SRAC and take advantage of this offer - but you will be limited to 4 chairs to filter out bulk resales.

We are happy to sell more than 4 chairs to non-members at $170 per chair which is still a great deal. Pick up only.

Contact me asap to ensure availability!

Waverly Community Chest Supports SRAC

(WAVERLY, NY) The Susquehanna River Archaeological Center (SRAC) announced a recent one time donation of $1,250 received from the Waverly Community Chest in order to purchase chairs for their lecture hall. SRAC is located at 345 Broad Street in downtown Waverly, NY and is home to thousands of local Native American artifacts, a gift shop and a lecture hall that hosts many different events throughout the year.

SRAC’s cofounder and executive director Deb Twigg said, “The Center has been using chairs donated by the Guthrie Clinic in 2007 that while nice to look at are very cumbersome to maintain, move and store in SRAC’s multi-use area. SRAC has also had to find chairs for their outdoor events. You have to remember that our volunteer staff median age is around 60 - 70 years old, and it became evident that we needed to figure out how we could afford lighter folding indoor/outdoor chairs that are more easily stored and setup for the many types of community events that we have. The Waverly Community Chest is a wonderful group of people who really do care about their community. We are so happy that they responded to our request and are excited to get our new chairs.”

The Waverly Community Chest has been serving Waverly, New York and surrounding communities for over fifty years. The nonprofit organization and its sister agency, the United Way of Bradford County, were established to help needy people in the Valley area.  The Community Chest survives with the generous donations from numerous citizens and businesses in the Valley.  Several local agencies depend upon the Community Chest as they struggle to meet needs and provide services to our communities. To learn more about the Waverly Community Chest and to support their efforts, visit:

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Clovis First Theory is put to rest at Paisley Caves

Clovis Point found in Milan, PA
Who were the first humans to enter the North American continent? 

Were they humans who founded what is known as the Clovis culture over 13,000 years ago? Or did other, totally unrelated peoples precede the Clovis immigrants? This issue has been intensely, if not bitterly debated for decades. The Clovis culture has been seen as the cradle of North American indigenous culture. Now new international research shows that people of another culture and technology were present concurrently or even previous to those of Clovis. Scientists have added a new and dramatic chapter to the history of the peopling of the Americas striking a deadly blow to the "Clovis First" theory that has dominated pre-historic American archaeology for so long. The sensational results are published in the international journal Science.

Evidence that a non-Clovis culture was present in North America at least as early as Clovis people themselves and likely before is presented by an international team of researchers from the USA, the UK, and Denmark.

The team
Archeological excavations at the Paisley Caves in south-central Oregon were led by Dr. Dennis Jenkins from the University of Oregon.

Dr. Loren Davis of Oregon State University mapped the stratigraphy and studied the site formation processes.

Dr. Paula Campos and Professor Eske Willerslev from the Centre for GeoGenetics at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, profiled the many DNA finds from the caves.

Dr. Thomas Stafford, Jr., also from Centre of GeoGenetics, was in charge of the radiocarbon geochronology and biogeochemistry.

The evidence

The evidence for a pre-13,000 year old non-Clovis culture in North America includes obsidian and chert artifacts known as Western Stemmed projectile points, and DNA-profiling of dried human excrement — more accurately known as coprolites. Both obsidian projectile points and coprolites were excavated from sediments in the Paisley Caves.

Previous investigations found that human coprolites in the caves predated the Clovis culture by over 1,000 years; however, critics questioned the interpretations by saying that the cave strata had not been sufficiently examined and that no Clovis-age stone tools had been found with the coprolites.

Critics also questioned whether or not younger DNA could have been washed down through the cave's sediments, thereby contaminating non-human coprolites with more recent human DNA. If true, evidence for pre-Clovis human presence would have been bogus.

The new study refutes every one of the critics' arguments and uses overwhelming archaeological, stratigraphic, DNA and radiocarbon evidence to conclusively state that humans — and ones totally unrelated to Clovis peoples — were present at Paisley Caves over a millennium before Clovis.

Rocking the theoretical boat

The new results severely contrast with the "Clovis First" theory for early peopling of the Americas. The Clovis First hypothesis states that no humans existed in the Americas prior to Clovis, which dates from 13,000 years ago, and that the distinct Clovis lithic technology is the mother technology of all other stone artifact types later occurring in the New World.

This theory has been predominant since the first evidence of human presence in America was found in 1932 at the Clovis type locality in Blackwater Draw, just outside the village of Clovis in New Mexico. But now this praised and respected foundation of American prehistory has been overthrown.

Dr. Jenkins says of the paradigm shifting results:
"One of the central questions has been whether the technological evolution of hunting tools such as dart and spearheads can be attributed solely to the Clovis culture and the knowledge that these people brought from the Old World. During our excavations in the Paisley Caves we've found a completely different type of dart points. But these new points are of a completely different construction from those found in the Clovis culture. As our radiocarbon dating shows, the new finds are as old, or possibly older than the Clovis finds, which proves that the Clovis culture cannot have been the 'Mother technology' for all other technologies in America. Our results show that America was colonized by multiple cultures at the same time. And some perhaps even earlier than Clovis."

Human excreta rewrite history
It's not the first time that the partners Dr. Jenkins from the US and Professor Willerslev from Denmark rewrite American prehistory.

In 2008, the two researchers presented a DNA-profiling's and radiocarbon dating of coprolites moving the first human settlements in North America back in time by one thousand years, from 13,000 to 14,340 years ago. As if that was not enough, the team showed through DNA analysis of ancient human excrement that these people originated in Asia and were the probable predecessors of modern indigenous Americans.
With the new results the international team has added an important piece to the puzzle of who peopled the Americas — the final continent on Earth to be colonized by humans.

Professor Willerslev says of the new results:
"Our investigations constitute the final blow to the Clovis First theory. Culturally, biologically and chronologically the theory is no longer viable. The dissimilar stone artifacts, as well as the DNA-profiling of the human excrement, show that humans were present before Clovis and that another culture in North America was at least as old as the Clovis Culture itself. Or to put it differently: Either America was populated several thousand years before Clovis by people who created 'mother' technologies to the two very different styles of Clovis tools and Western Stemmed Tradition tools. Or else there must have been two earlier migrations into North America of which one must have predated the Clovis immigration by at least one thousand years. Both assumptions would explain our findings, but trying to distinguish which is more likely is very premature."

Dr Paula Campos, a former postdoc at Willerslev's lab in Copenhagen, now at Science Museum, University of Coimbra, Portugal, elaborates the point:

"When we published the first DNA results from the Paisley Caves four years ago it caused an outcry. Many archaeologists felt that our results must be wrong. They considered it an established fact that Clovis were the first Americans. People would come up with any number of alternative explanations to our data in order to repudiate our interpretation. Today we demonstrate that our conclusions were right."

Thomas Stafford, also of the Centre for GeoGenetics in Copenhagen, and Loren Davies of Oregon State University agree:

"Critics said that the stratigraphy in the Paisley Caves is diffuse and chaotic and that this explains the finding of human coprolites older that Clovis. This couldn't be more wrong. The stratigraphy is well developed, clear and ordered correctly top to bottom."

Tom Stafford elaborates:
"No other archaeological site in the US has been as thoroughly and exhaustively dated as the Paisley Caves. We've completed more than 141 new radiocarbon measurements on materials ranging from coprolites to wood and plant artefacts, fossil plants and mummified animals, to unique, water soluble chemical fractions from sediments and the coprolites themselves. We have used 14C dating to physically and temporally dissect the Paisley Caves strata at the millimetre l level. At present, we see no evidence that geologically younger, water-borne molecules — DNA in particular — have moved downward and contaminated deeper, older coprolites. The aDNA and 14C data are iterative and corroborate each other. Our conclusion is that humans were present in North America at least one thousand years before Clovis and that these earlier peoples probably had no technological or genetic similarity to the iconic Clovis Culture. The Clovis First debate has ended. The theory is now dead and buried."

Contact: Professor Eske Willerslev
(45) 28-75-13-09
University of Copenhagen

Sunday, July 8, 2012

SRAC Plans New Research Room in the Former Waverly Village Hall.

I wanted to share the following news release with SRAC's members and friends. I also want everyone to know that I will continue to be dedicated to the future development and progress of SRAC.

(WAVERLY, NY) The Susquehanna River Archaeological Center (SRAC) is in the planning stages for a new research room thanks to Teaoga Development LLC, a new corporation in Waverly, NY.  Teaoga Development LLC is owned and operated by SRAC’s cofounder and executive director, Deb Twigg and partner, Susan Fogel.  Teaoga Development LLC recently purchased the former Waverly Village Hall, and has already launched a website and blog to help the community stay updated with the building renovation progress and other plans underway. 

According to the website, the goals of the organization are to “enrich our communities by offering smarter business choices with reasonably priced storefronts and leased properties in the historic old Waverly Village Hall and assistance in developing better marketing practices."
One of the immediate plans is to update an area of the first floor to facilitate SRAC’s huge rare book and map collections. The room also has a large walk in, fire-proof safe that will soon house historical records and other invaluable pieces from the SRAC collections.
Another area of the building will be the home of another piece of Teaoga Development LLC that is a full service, integrated marketing division staffed by professionals that together have over 35 years of experience in the marketing and public relations fields.  Twigg adds, “It was important that Teaoga Development include a marketing piece. Economic development includes marketing – which when done correctly will help our local businesses thrive.  Sadly, many businesses cannot afford a marketing department and instead just do whatever they can to get their word out without any real plan.  We offer a free 1 hour consultation and we will help you make a better plan to be more successful.  Furthermore, we can help you design, create and implement anything that you decide that fits your needs and budget.” 

Other plans for the building are underway and Twigg refers interested parties to visit for more information concerning marketing and property rental opportunities.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Jewelry and Beading Class July 14th

There will be a Jewelry & Beading Class on Saturday, July 14, from 11:30am to 1:30pm at the Susquehanna River Archaeological Center (SRAC), at 345 Broad St. Waverly, NY. Local artisan Ellen Sisco creates jewelry from a wide variety of materials. Having worked with stones, metals, and beads of all kinds in her jewelry for 25 years, she conducts a popular class on basic beading techniques here the Susquehanna River Archaeological Center (SRAC.)

On the first Saturday of each month, participants will be provided with instruction and all the supplies you will need, including semiprecious stone beads, glass beads, metal beads, pearls and tools so that you may create your own gift, keepsake, or special piece. Learn to make necklaces, bracelets, earrings and other jewelry. Just ask about any style you would like to try, and Ellen will teach you to create jewelry to match your wardrobe, and to make things for the holidays; now you can make your own jewelry for any occasion.

The fee for this two hour beading class is $25.00. Please call to reserve your space in class by calling the Center at (607) 565-7960 or emailing