icon for Home page
icon for Kid's Home page
icon for Digital Collection
icon for Activities
icon for Turns Exhibit
icon for In the Classroom
icon for Chronologies
icon for My Collection

Turns of the Centuries Exhibit > Native American Indians 1680-1720 > Place in Time
This theme in other eras: 1680-1720 | 1780-1820 | 1880-1920

(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.

Place in Time : Land and People


European explorers and settlers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries did not discover a "New World." People, in fact, have inhabited the region we now call "New England" for more than 12,000 years. The newcomers encountered an indigenous people whose cultures reflected an ancient and ongoing relationship with the land. The weather, the seasons and the land itself determined how and when Native peoples hunted, gathered, planted, harvested, fished, and celebrated.

These societies made use of an abundance of natural resources. Surviving archaeological evidence provides some information about the earliest inhabitants of this region, but the record is incomplete. Of their intricate craftwork and tools, only stone, pottery, bone, and a few fragments of wooden objects have survived; most other organic objects have decomposed after burial for thousands of years in acidic soil. Producing ceramic objects like these is a specialized process generally associated with sophisticated agrarian societies such as those inhabiting the northeast. The makers scratched in or imprinted designs with shells. They fired them in a shallow pit covered with a slow burning fire. Pottery like this was relatively fragile and survives mainly as shards.

The consequences of contact between Europe and the Americas were profound on both sides. New trading partners and novel trade goods generated new relationships and destabilized old ones. Long-established trade routes transported European products far inland. These same trade routes also proved frighteningly efficient at transmitting diseases of European and Asiatic origin to which Native Americans lacked resistance. Epidemics of measles, smallpox, typhus and tuberculosis virtually wiped out entire communities. The death toll approached an unimaginable 97% in some areas. This event, referred to by one historian as a "demographic catastrophe" had far-reaching cultural, economic and political consequences. In this same period, the "Great Migration" of English people to New England began. They brought with them assumptions and beliefs that proved incompatible with those of the original inhabitants. This was especially true of beliefs concerning land transfer and ownership. Resulting conflicts over the land yielded tragic results.


top of page

Ceramic vessel

creator   Woodland
date   -1000--350
location   Unknown
width   4.5"
height   4.5"
process/materials   clay
item type   Household Goods/Food Processing Tools & Equipment
accession #   #1999.13.513

Look Closer icon Add This to My collection Icon Detailed Info icon


See Also...

Basalt hoe or adzes



Perforator with modern haft

Steatite Vessel

Deed of Pacomtuck land granted by Chauk to Dedham residents

Ceramic vessel

button for Side by Side Viewingbutton for Glossarybutton for Printing Helpbutton for How to Read Old Documents


Home | Online Collection | Things To Do | Turns Exhibit | Classroom | Chronologies | My Collection
About This Site | Site Index | Site Search | Feedback