Broken Clock, Cheektowaga, NY
The Broken Clock Site
Erie County, New York
Previous Phase 1 investigations identified the Broken Clock Site on a 1.3 ac (0.5 ha) area of stream terrace adjacent to Cayuga Creek in the Town of Cheektowaga, Erie County, New York. Cultural material recovered from the initial survey suggested a Late Woodland occupation of the site. Subsequent Phase 2 investigations recovered more evidence of site occupations dating from the Middle Archaic to Late Woodland periods (3500 B.C – A.D. 1650). This work indicated the site was eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.
In Spring of 2008, SUNY at Buffalo Archaeological Survey conducted a Phase 3 data recovery excavations at the Broken Clock Site for Elderwood Senior Care, Inc. Fieldwork employed 1×1 m (3×3 ft) test units on systematic grid pattern across the site followed by mechanical stripping of plowzone soils in areas identified as having a high artifact density.
Excavations resulted in the recovery of 18, 378 pre-contact and contact period Native American artifacts from the site. The bulk being chert debitage (flakes) related to stone tool production and maintenance. A wide range of lithic tools forms associated with the Late Paleo-Indian, Middle and Late Archaic, as well as Early, Middle, Late Woodland periods in western New York. Non-chert stone artifacts were also recovered from the site and include; netsinkers, anvil stones, abraders, celts, planes, hammerstones, and sinew stones. Pottery sherds and fragments were also recovered associated with the Early, Middle, and Late Woodland Periods. Two trade beads, relatively dated A.D. 1642-1745 suggests a possible Contact Period occupation of the site. A possible Late Woodland-Owasco structure was identified from lines of post molds identified after mechanical stripping of portions of the site.
Broken Clock Site was likely not occupied continuously. Sporadic site use is interpreted from the material remains for most cultural components identified. Based on occupational debris and feature evidence, the Broken Clock site is characterized as a recurrently occupied short-term camp and base camp for small family groups during most of the pre-contact period. Site use may have been more ephemeral during the Paleo-Indian period, and on a larger scale and for a longer duration during the Middle-Late Woodland transition, or what used to be called the Owasco Phase. Most of these site visits were probably seasonal in nature but the season of occupation could be different for different components. In terms of the duration of any one site visit by a small social group, these may have ranged from days to weeks, perhaps a month. Only in the ‘Owasco’ phase does site use seem to be in a fixed residential structure that could have been occupied for months, likely from spring through fall.