50,000 signatures reached
To: Federal, State & Local Government
Do Not Destroy the 10,000 Year Old Ancient Village in Northampton, MA
In July 2020, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation is planning to destroy an “incredibly rare” undisturbed ancient village site that was recently discovered in Northampton, Massachusetts – for a traffic roundabout.
This intact village existed 5,000 years before the Egyptians built the pyramids.
The state’s archeological site report which details findings from two years of work there has been unlawfully withheld from the public.
We join with our neighbors as well as the scientific and historical community, in calling for state and local officials to:
1) Stop plans to begin construction on July 1st
2) Release the state’s official archeological site report to the public (per 36 CFR 800)
3) Take steps to move forward to ensure appropriate preservation
4) Seek a less destructive and disruptive traffic solution for our community
Why is this important?
Noted archeologist Dr. Richard Gramly (PhD Archeology, Harvard) was able to review the state’s report:
“Lands along New England’s Connecticut River harbor important vestiges of early settlements dating from the Glacial epoch. This earliest cultural phase is characterized by people who hunted caribou as well as gathered plants, fish, and small game. Their lifestyle came to an end 10,000-11,000 calendar years ago when essentially modern environmental conditions prevailed.
Archaeological sites documenting a transition to modern flora and fauna are rare in northeastern North America. Intact village sites of this early era that escaped later re-occupation are extraordinarily rare.
Stone artifacts, hearths, dietary remains, and ritual features, which by good fortune survived 10,000 years of burial, are precious to scholars and all students of the human past. This evidence links New England inhabitants with distant North American peoples of the same period.
Therefore, it is shocking to learn that a partially-explored village site of this ancient era in Northampton, Hampshire County, Massachusetts, known as the Skibiski Site, is threatened with total destruction by non-essential highway construction. Expanded study of such a remarkable site, as well as its continuing preservation for future generations of New Englanders, command our attention and must be allowed to proceed without any interference.”
Facts from the state’s unreleased archeological site report contradict public statements such as “The site is no longer there, we excavated it. It's not going to be paved over - it's gone.” (Daily Hampshire Gazette, 11/4/2019, https://www.gazettenet.com/archeological-site-hg-100219-28871904 ).
According to Dr. Gramly who reviewed the report, only 20-25% of the known site was excavated. 75-80% still remains to be uncovered. Significantly, the site report states that there are at least two ancient hearths still underground waiting to be revealed and radiocarbon tested.
It is also nearly certain that there are further features which have not yet been discovered as the testing interval for the site was too wide to reveal all prehistoric habitation loci.
The state's own report called this ancient village an "incredibly rare archeological discovery" that is "eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places". The formal recommendation was to preserve the site.
Native American tribes have requested additional investigation and mitigation of impacts to the site. (State's report p.43, Daily Hampshire Gazette 6/26, CommonWealth 7/1)
Yet in July, it will be bulldozed for a roundabout without any public debate whatsoever. A stoplight instead of a roundabout would likely preserve the site.
How else can you take action besides signing this petition?
Express your opinion to our elected officials with a brief email or call:
President of the Northampton City Council: Gina-Louise Sciarra firstname.lastname@example.org
Note that "members of the public can address the Council on any matter for a three minute period". The next meeting is July 9th. Just ask! It will probably be on Zoom.
Mayor of Northampton: David Narkewicz email@example.com
Representative: Lindsay Sabadosa firstname.lastname@example.org
Senator: Jo Commerford Jo.Comerford@masenate.gov
SHPO & Executive Director MA Historic Commission: Brona Simon: Brona.Simon@state.ma.us
Also, please consider posting a link to this petition on Facebook:
Daily updates and links to recent press are available at http://skibiski.com