Interior view of reconstructed Iroquois longhouse

Assistant Professor Jennifer Birch has been awarded an National Science Foundation grant for a project called “Establishing a High-Resolution Framework for Age Determination.” This research will, for the first time, construct a high-precision radiocarbon chronology for select Northern Iroquoian site relocation sequences in Ontario and New York State. The study aims to collect 245 new dates from 41 Iroquoian village sites. It is expected that this refined, independent chronology will permit enhanced understanding of the historical development of Iroquoian confederacies, including the timing and directionality of conflict, and the introduction of European goods. A pilot study conducted by Birch and her collaborator, Professor Sturt Manning of Cornell University, indicated that the chronological placement of Iroquoian village sites based on ceramic chronologies and traditional radiocarbon dates in one site sequence was off by some 50-100 years. Additional Modern Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) dating of short-lived organic samples and Bayesian Chronological Modelling of those dates promise to greatly refine the timeframes for other community sequences. Many of the analyses to be performed will be conducted at UGA’s Center for Applied Isotopic Studies (CAIS). The project also involves graduate students from both UGA and Cornell University and will include a workshop on Bayesian modelling and Iroquoian archaeology for the graduate communities at each institution.