Economic Botany

, Volume 44, Issue 4, pp 516–528 | Cite as

The boylston street fishweir: Revisited

  • Lawrence Kaplan
  • Mary B. Smith
  • Lesley Sneddon
Article

Abstract

Excavations for the Boston subway system early in this century and later for building sites revealed the presence of waterlogged wood in the peat and silt deep beneath the present surface. Beginning more than 50 yr ago, the investigation of geological and biological materials recovered from these sites, especially the wood remains, believed to have been set in place by prehistoric Native Americans, became a benchmark for the multidisciplinary application of scientific methods in archaeology and environmental reconstruction. Recent excavations for building foundations in Boston have exposed additional wooden materials. We have analyzed 216 specimens recently recovered from an excavation at 500 Boylston Street where older office buildings were demolished to make way for a new commercial structure. Although some of our findings differ from those of the previous investigators we find support for the earlier supposition that the remains represent an ancient Native American fishweir, a fencelike barrier and trap for fish on an ancient shoreline.

Le barrage à poissons de la rue Boylston: Réévaluation

Résumé

Le percement du métro de Boston au début du siècle, puis plus tard les chantiers de construction ont révélé la présence de bois imprégné d’eau dans la tourbe et la vase du sous- sol actuel. Des recherches commencées il y a plus de cinquante ans sur des matériaux de nature géologique et biologique retrouvés dans ces sites, et surtout sur des restes de bois placés là par des Indiens préhistoriques, sont devenues le banc d’essai pour l’application de méthodes scientifiques pluridisciplinaires en archéologie et en reconstitution du milieu écologique. Des excavations récentes nécessitées par les fondations d’immeubles à Boston ont mis à jour d’autres matériaux en bois. Nous avons analysé plus de 216 spécimens récemment retrouvés dans un chantier au 500 de la rue Boylston oú de vieux immeubles de bureaux ont été détruits pour faire place à tun nouveau complexe commercial. Bien que certains de nos résultats s’éloignent de ceux de chercheurs antérieurs, nous sommes confortés dans notre hypothèse initiale selon laquelle ces restes représentent une ancienne trappe à poissons, une sorte de barrière pour attraper les poissons sur ce qui était anciennement le littoral.

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Copyright information

© The New York Botanical Garden 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lawrence Kaplan
    • 1
  • Mary B. Smith
    • 1
  • Lesley Sneddon
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of Massachusetts/BostonBoston
  2. 2.The Nature ConservancyBoston

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