Kampoosa Bog

(Stockbridge and Lee, Massachusetts)

Main attributes of this Native American place: Native name; Archaeological; Native practices.

Kampoosa Bog is a large wetland and wildlife habitat area, covering more than 1,300 acres. Technically “Kampoosa” is not a bog; rather, it is the largest and most diverse calcareous fen in the state. It came into being more than 12,000 years ago, after the melting of glacial ice. Scientific research has reconstructed the environmental conditions that existed at the bog at different points in time during the ancient past. One method has used core samples that were obtained in the middle of the bog. These cores reveal many different layers of organic peat, from thousands of years ago. Analysis of pollen samples has indicated the various types of vegetation that grew around Kampoosa Bog at different times, long ago. Pieces of charcoal found in the peat layers have been dated using radiocarbon dating. Apparently, wildfires burned around the bog at different times in the past.

Archaeologists have found Native American sites around the edges of Kampoosa Bog. These places have provided spear points, stone tools, and other evidence of Native American activities, in addition to hearth features. The Indians gathered wild plant foods that they found around the wetland, and hunted for deer and other animals that were attracted to the bog. The dating of charcoal from the Indian settlements has shown that repeat settlements occurred, sometimes many centuries apart. One site was apparently used for a large-scale skinning and butchering operation, which occurred between 3,000 and 4,000 years ago. Another was a habitation site, dated to about 2,000 years ago. Evidence suggests that the Indians started some of the wildfires that occurred around the bog, to improve the habitat for the animals they hunted.

Contributor: Timothy Binzen

SOURCES

Gentile, Derek 2013 “New Signs of 4,000-Year-Old Life at Kampoosa Bog.” The Berkshire Eagle
online, posted July 29, 2013.

Johnson, Eric 1996 Discovering the Ancient Past at Kampoosa Bog, Stockbridge, Massachusetts.
University of Massachusetts Archaeological Services, Amherst.

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