ARCHEOLOGISTS concerned with New Jersey usually center their interest on two main problems: (1) remains of the Lenni Lenape Indians and their ancestors or predecessors, and (2) traces of an ancient, possibly glacial age, man. About the Indians there is much conclusive information, but evidence of ancient man has been the crux of New Jersey's major archeological dispute.
The theory of an ancient man in New Jersey was first advanced with evidence by Dr. Charles C. Abbott, a Trenton physician, who discovered crude argillite blades, which he assigned to the glacial period. The spot where these remains were found in gravel along the Delaware River bluff, one mile south of Trenton, consequently became one of the most important archeological sites in the eastern United States. An article concerning his finds, written by Dr. Abbott in 1872, raised a storm of argument.
Late in 1887 Henry C. Mercer, curator of the Museum of American and Prehistoric Archeology at the University of Pennsylvania, investigated the site. He reported that "No token of an antecedent race was discovered." Beginning in 1894 and continuing for nearly twenty years, the Abbott farm was excavated by Ernest Volk, under the direction of F. W. Putnam of Harvard University. Volk, agreeing with Dr. Abbott, wrote that "the conclusive evidence . . . asserts the antiquity of man on this continent at least as far back as the time of these glacial deposits in the Delaware Valley." Dr. Leslie Spier dug several trenches on the Abbott farm in 1914 and 1915. He found large stone blades, arrowheads, and other artifacts of a simple culture differing widely from that of the historic Lenni Lenape Indians, but he did not attempt to answer the question of its being a possible Paleolithic, or Stone Age, culture.
In April 1936 the Indian Site Survey, a Works Progress Administration project sponsored by the State Museum and directed by Dr. Dorothy Cross, began excavations at the Abbott farm and later at other sites. Nothing has been discovered yet that may be attributed to an ancient or glacial man. On the contrary, what evidence has been uncovered tends to disprove Dr. Abbott's interpretation of his findings; as an instance, designs on recently
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Publication information: Book title: New Jersey:A Guide to Its Present and Past. Contributors: Federal Writers' Project (N.J.) - OrganizationName. Publisher: The Viking Press. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1939. Page number: 28.
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