The Buried Past: An Archaeological History of Philadelphia

By John L. Cotter; Daniel G. Roberts et al. | Go to book overview

I

The Philadelphia Region from Prehistory
into History

THE ENVIRONMENT

PREHISTORIC INHABITANTS

THE LENAPE OF THE HISTORIC CONTACT PERIOD

Philadelphia, like any city great or small, however recent or ancient, is a place and an interval of time in the story of man's occupation of the earth. Not surprisingly, given its particular place and time in that long story, Philadelphia has been fertile ground for historical archaeologists, whose eighteenth-century findings have added color to the already colorful story of Philadelphia's role in the founding of the nation. The very color of that interval of history has, however, tended to obscure the rest of the interval of time that is Philadelphia. In the shadow of the artifacts, archives, landmarks, and history books that speak so eloquently of America's historical beginnings, the actual beginnings of man's occupation of the landscape that would ultimately become Philadelphia have faded. The city's prehistoric past and the indigenous people who inhabited it from prehistoric times into historic have been largely forgotten or, worse, ignored.

To begin the story of Philadelphia with the advent of the European settlers in the early 1600s would be like walking into a play in the middle of the second act. To appreciate the full drama, one has to know something of what went before.

Figure I.I.

The physiographic provinces of the Philadelphia region. (From Raber 1985)

-2-

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