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Caddy Park, Quincy MA


This article was originally printed in
Bulletin of the Massachusetts Archaeological Society, Vol. 64 (2) Fall 2003, pp. 22-27.
It has been reformat for this website.

Some Observations on Caddy Park

By Mary E. Gage

Copyright (c) 2003. All Rights Reserved.

Since the publication of this article Mary Gage has added new materials discussing an interpretation of this site.
Click here view that discussion.


In 1999, archaeologists Thomas Mahlstedt and Margo M. Davis excavated a Native American feature at Caddy Park in Quincy, MA.  A detailed report on the site was featured in the Bulletin of the Massachusetts Archaeological Society (Vol. 63, Nos. 1-2 Spring-Fall 2002). The 1m x 2m feature contains four discernible tight groupings of artifacts (caches A,B,C,D), four plummets arranged in a pattern suggestive of a net, a whale effigy, and a variety of other artifacts scattered throughout the feature. The artifacts were placed on a layer of red ocher, and a layer of red ocher was sprinkled on the top of the artifacts. Several dense areas of red ocher suggest that bags of ocher were also interred. Caddy Park was interpreted as a maritime procurement culture. The feature itself may have been a burial, cenotaph, cache, or ceremonial offering.

 Caddy Park bears a remarkable resemblance, in terms of its use of groups (a/k/a clusters, or caches) of tools and organized tool kits, to Burial G1 at the West Ferry site, Rhode Island. In turn, the West Ferry site Burial G1 has been compared to the Orient phase on Long Island. The Orient phase is noted for the consistent inclusion of organized tool kits in its burials. Although the Orient phase is similar to Caddy Park in terms of the interment of tool kits it lacks several other diagnostic characteristics of the Caddy Park site. In particular the Orient phase burials had no bags of red ochre, lacked pressure flaked blades, and lacked the internment of large caches of tool/preforms. These three characteristics are documented in the Meadowood phase burials in New York State. The Meadowood phase existed contemporaneously with the Orient phase. Although the Meadowood phase was largely confined to New York, two caches of Meadowood mortuary blades were found in Connecticut, and a few have been surface collected on Martha’s Vineyard.

 This article is exploratory in nature. It explores the possibility that Caddy Park was influenced by the Orient phase culture of Long Island, and to a lesser extent by the Meadowood phase in New York State. Secondly, having presented strong evidence that Caddy Park was influence by the Meadowood and Orient phases, it suggests a date range for the site.


For the purposes of this article, the following terminology is used to denote specific arrangements of tools and/or artifacts. This terminology is italicized in the main text:

Group – It consists of artifacts tightly gathered together. The group must show some physical separation from the rest of the artifacts in the feature. The tools can be all the same, unrelated, related or a mix of both. The quantity per group is unlimited.

Small Tool Kit – It is made up of two or more types of related tools. An example is three gouges and one sharpening stone that combined form a small tool kit. These tools can be placed together in a group or scattered throughout the feature or a combination of both.

Overall Tool Kit – It consists of the majority of tools / artifacts in a feature that relate to the day to day subsistence activities. It may or may not contain smaller units like group(s) or small tool kit(s). For an example, the Caddy Park feature’s tools and artifacts were interpreted as a “maritime procurement culture.” The majority of tools and artifacts were related to subsistence activities associated with food procurement, boat building, etc in a maritime environment.


The basic methodology used to research this article was a standard comparison of Caddy Park’s diagnostic artifacts and features to other sites along the New England coast and islands (Maine, Massachusetts, Martha’s Vineyard, Rhode Island, Connecticut, & Long Island) and New York State. The literature review was limited to major published works on these geographical regions. The review focused on sites from 6,000 BP to 1700 BP, the date range given for the Caddy Park site. This search, although far from exhaustive in nature, yielded several sites and archaeological phases with comparable diagnostic traits. The diagnostic traits used in these comparisons were (1) pressure flaked blades, (2) internment of large quantities of tool/preforms, (3) internment of bags of red ochre, (4) specific types of tool and artifact organization which are defined in the terminology section.

Caddy Park, Quincy MA

Caddy Park contains a number of diagnostic traits which are compared to several other sites and archaeological phases. This section serves to describe those traits in greater detail. For a complete discussion of Caddy Park please refer to the original site report. Caddy Park contains all the diagnostic traits used in these comparisons: Groups, small tool kits, overall tool kit, pressure flaked blades, bagged red ocher, and large quantities of tool/preforms.

Overall Tool Kit – Caddy Park’s overall tool kit was interpreted as representative of a maritime procurement culture. The major artifacts of this overall tool kit are a gouge formed into a whale effigy partially surrounded by four plummets (net sinkers) which were probably attached to a net, four adzes indicating woodworking and boat building, small stem points and atlatl indicating hunting, and four large blades indicate possible ceremonial activity.

Small Tool Kit – Within cache D there is a small tool kit called a stone polishing kit made up “…of two flat ovoid-shaped pieces of stone, possibly used to polish the adz tips, and a fine polishing tool.” (Mahlstedt & Davis 2002, 18)

Groups – Four caches of tightly clustered tools and artifacts were found in the Caddy Park feature. They were labeled caches A, B, C, D. Cache A has 3 adzes, 1 adz/gouge, oval core, a pebble and 65 edge tool/preforms; Cache B has 2 long blades, a quartz core, and 42 edge tool/preforms; Cache C has 5 small stemmed points and 24 edge tool/preforms; Cache D has 1 blade, an oval disk, and 7 edge tools/preforms.  Each is a group formed by several artifacts tightly grouped together and separated from the greater whole of artifacts.

Large Quantities of Tool/Preforms – 185 artifacts classified as “edge tool/preforms” were recovered from this feature.

Bagged Red Ochre – Two caches had dense concentrations of red ochre and were interpreted as bags of red ochre that were interred with the other artifacts.

Pressure Flaked Blades – Four large finely work blades were done with pressure flaking.

Wapanucket Site, Middleboro MA

The first definitive tool arrangements that show up in southeastern Massachusetts are found at the Wapanucket site in Middleboro, Massachusetts. This site has a date range of 2750 BC to 1600 BC.  At Wapanucket twenty-two burials were excavated, eleven were inside an ossuary.  Within the ossuary two related tools kept appearing, a gouge accompanied by a sharpening stone. According to archeologist Maurice Robbins, “Gouges with their sharpening stones were conspicuous among the grave goods from this feature [ossuary].” (Robbins 1968, 63) The ossuary is dated to 2340 BC.  Six of the eleven ossuary burials had the combination gouge and sharpening stone. Seven of the ossuary burials had gouges and more were found in the general pit. Of the eleven other burials 3 more had gouges and two contained a small tool kit. The small tools kits from Wapanucket are made up of gouge(s) and sharpening stone(s) and in one case an ulu and sharpening stone. No adzes were recovered. No tightly packed groups and no overall tool kits were found (Robbins 1968).

West Ferry Site, Narragansett Bay R.I.

Off the southeastern edge of Rhode Island in Narragansett Bay is the island of Conanicut.  At the placed called West Ferry (named after the old ferry) Native American Indian graves were found between 1936 and 1937.  The site was closed from 1937 until a formal excavation by William Simmons was conducted in 1966-7.

 This cemetery is located on a sandy knoll on the Watson farm (a/k/a Sherman farm).  It was placed on the top most portion of the knoll seventy feet above sea level in sandy, rock-free soil.  All the graves were shallow occurring within thirty to fifty-five inches below the surface. Most of the burials date between 1575 A.D. and 1636 A.D. according to Mr. Miller of the Museum of American Indian, Heye Foundation.  A few graves were found to date to a much earlier time period, the Archaic Transitional period. Two have carbon-14 dates, burial A-33 with no artifacts is dated 3380 BP [1430 BC] and burial G-1 with steatite vessels is dated 3225 BP [1284 BC]. All together seven cremation burials were found. They had tools manufactured by percussion flaking, pecking, and polishing techniques.  All the burials had charcoal, however none had powdered red ochre (Simmons 1970, 3-34). With the exception of burial G-1, none had an overall tool kit.

Burial G-1, rich in grave goods, is an isolated exception in this cemetery but not a single entity in its time period. Two other burials with similar grave goods were found in Charlestown, RI. Of all the southeastern coastal burials G-1 at the West Ferry site comes closest in overall structuring and quantity of contents to the Caddy Park feature. It has characteristics in common with Caddy Park although it has no direct artifact associations.

Burial G-1 has a tightly grouped set of objects that include 2 steatite bowls (whole) arranged one inside the other, a small grooved ax placed on the rim of one bowl, with four spear points underneath (bowls did not rest on the points). Near the bowl group was “…a clutch of four black pigment stones of graphite…” (Simmons 1970, 17) making up a second small group. The other objects include human bone fragments (1 child, 1 adult), a broken steatite kettle (complete), a long pestle, 21 projectile points, a naturally perforated black stone, an adz, a gouge fragment, a drill, a flake, 2 gorget fragments, a steatite amulet, a tablet, several tiny lumps of red ochre, and a red pigment stone. Several natural stones were recovered from the top level of pit. The heaviest concentration of objects occurred in the mid to lower level near the north wall. Other objects were scattered throughout the pit (Simmons 1970, 16-21).

Taken as a whole the artifacts are an overall tool kit providing for cooking and eating, woodworking, hunting, personal adornment and cosmetic needs. Within the overall tool kit are several small tool kits. There is a food preparation and eating small tool kit composed of the two bowls, the kettle, and pestle. There is a personal adornment small tool kit formed by an amulet, gorget, and red & black pigment stones. As previously described, there are two artifact groups in the burial. Burial G-1 contains all three tool organizations: groups, small tool kits, and overall tool kit.

     Caddy Park and West Ferry G-1 burial share three factors in common: groups, small tool kits, and an overall tool kit.  The two sites also have some distinct differences. Caddy Park’s four large blades are pressure flaked, West Ferry’s projectile points were percussion flaked. Caddy Park also has large quantities of edge tool/preforms and powdered red ochre. Burial G-1 has neither of these traits. William Simmons links the West Ferry site with the Orient phase of Long Island, NY (Simmons 1970, 11).

Orient Phase

Archaeologist, William Ritchie, discusses the Orient phase burials in detail in his book The Archaeology of New York State (1994, 164-178). Orient phase cemeteries contain two types of burials: Individual and large communal burials pits. The communal burial pits all contain, “…features having one or more directly associated `caches’ of burial offerings. The latter in nearly every case included a fire-making kit, a number of projectile points, one or more `killed’ stone vessels, a hammerstone, and a paintstone, and they frequently included an adz or celt.” (Ritchie 1994, 177) This common feature of Orient phase communal pit burials constitutes an overall tool kit.  Ritchie states, “The typical basic grave lot therefore provided for hunting game, kindling fire, and cooking food with a cosmetic kit thrown in.” (Ritchie 1994, 176-7) Within the overall tool kit was a small tool kit: Fire-making kit. It consisted of iron pyrite and a quartz or flint striker. (Ritchie 1994, 167) Some burials had powdered red ochre at the base of the pit. No pressure flaked tools were reported. Orient sites have a date range of 1043 BC to 763 BC and are of the Transitional period (Ritchie 1994, 165).

 Orient phase communal pit burials contain small tool kits and overall tool kits. They lack bagged red ochre, pressure flaked tools, and large caches of tool/preforms. It is unclear if they had any artifact or tool groups.

Meadowood Phase

Caddy Park has three characteristics not found in the Orient phase.  For these characteristics we look to the Meadowood phase of inland New York dated to 998 BC to 563 BC (Ritchie 1994, 181). Those traits are pressure flaking, large quantities of edge tools/preforms, and bagged red ochre. During the Meadowood phase large quantities of mortuary blades, an average of 100 to 250 per burial, were included in graves.  (It is unclear if these large quantities of mortuary blades were in groups or not.) “These points, ranging in length from about one and five eights to three and a half inches, are extremely thin and very skillfully made by a well-controlled pressure-flaking technique.”  It is not certain if these basic triangular shaped blades are finished blades or blanks / preforms. (Ritchie 1994, 183) Red ochre has been found in all but one cemetery. “In all save one cemetery (Oberlander No. 2), use was made of powdered hematite or red ochre, which was sprinkled or more liberally poured over the grave contents, human and artifactual, or included in a bag or pouch in certain of the graves.” (Ritchie 1994, 198)

 Like the Orient phase, Meadowood phase burials generally contain a fire making kit composed of iron pyrite and flint strike-a-light. The Meadowood fire making kits were contained in a small pouch or rolled up in bark (Ritchie 1994, 199). The fire making kit as previously discussed constitutes a small tool kit. Meadowood burials also contained large quantities of mortuary blades, and some burials contained food remains and other artifacts. The available information suggests that Meadowood burials for the most part probably lacked an organized overall tool kit.

 Caddy Park and the Meadowood phase have four traits in common three of which are not found in the Orient phase: the presence of pressure flaked blades, bagged red ochre, and large quantities of tool/preforms. The fourth trait that both phases have in common is small tool kits. The four large pressure flaked blades found at Caddy Park have no real equivalent in Meadowood in terms of their shape and form. However, they were created by the same technique and high level of skill. Mahlsted and Davis described Caddy Park blades as, “The large size and thinness of the blade [33cm blade], coupled with a quartz vein that runs through the middle of the piece attest to skill of the knapper.” (pp. 13). The technique, high level of skill, and the thinness of the blades is very similar to Ritchie’s description of Meadowood blades. In addition, Caddy Park contains several “caches” with significant quantities of “edge tool/preforms.” This trait bears striking resemblance to the large quantities of mortuary blades found in Meadowood burials and caches. Ritchie speculates that the mortuary blades may have been preforms (Ritchie 1994, 183). Finally, the interment of bags of red ochre is documented in the Meadowood phase. Several high concentrations of red ochre in the Caddy Park feature were interpreted as having been placed in bags.

The evidence strongly suggests that the culture that created Caddy Park was influenced by the cultural ideas of the Meadowood phase. Secondly, the creators of Caddy Park may have learned the technique of pressure flaking from the Meadowood phase.


Three of the six diagnostic traits used to compare the Caddy Park site to various other sites and archaeological phases involved intentional arrangements of tools and artifacts in a buried feature (grave, cache, etc). These intentional arrangements of tools and artifacts represent cultural traditions, practices, and behaviors. It is a well accepted fact that cultural ideas are transmitted from generation to generation, and even from one culture to another. The evidence strongly suggests that the culture that created the Caddy Park feature was an amalgam of a number of cultural ideas taken from its predecessors and its neighbors.

The Wapanucket site in Middleboro, MA is one of the earliest sites in southeastern Massachusetts that contains a definitive arrangement of tools: a small tool kit. The small tool kit was composed of a simple arrangement of a gouge and sharpening stone. Caddy Park contains a somewhat similar small tool kit: three stone polishing tools, “possibly used to polish the adz tips” according to Mahlstedt and Davis (pp. 18). Caddy Park contained four adzes. One of the polishing stones was found in direct association with a broken pendent suggesting an intentional arrangement between the two artifacts.

 Caddy Park and Wapanucket share a common theme in its small tool kits: tool / artifact accompanied by a tool used to created or sharpen it. There is definitively a time difference between the two sites. Wapanucket contained only gouges and no adzes. In comparison, Caddy Park contained four adzes, and one gouge. The shift from gouges to adzes as the predominant woodworking tool indicates a substantial passage of time. The continuity in its small tool kits suggests that Caddy Park had some ancestral ties to the culture that created Wapanucket.

 The small tools kits of the ossuary feature at Wapanucket date to 2340 BC. The practice of burying small tool kits in burial features is documented one thousand years later at the G-1 burial (1284 BC) at the West Ferry site in Narragansett Bay, RI. In addition, the G-1 burial contained an overall tool kit, and a group of tightly clustered artifacts. The tool arrangements in the G-1 burial were far more sophisticated then the simple tool arrangement associations found at Wapanucket. This suggests a potential elaboration of the burial practices. Granted, burial G-1 was an unusual type of burial ritual compared to other contemporary graves at the site. However, it does testify to the presence of these cultural ideas or practices during that time period. Caddy Park has far more in common with the G-1 burial then it has with Wapanucket. Both have small tool kits, overall tool kit, and one or more groups of tools. G-1 burial and the West Ferry site in general lacked the presence of red ochre, lacked pressure flaked tools, lacked large quantities of tool/preforms. G-1 burial is arguable closer in time with Caddy Park than the Wapanucket site, however, the differences suggest they were not contemporary with each other.

 Interestingly, archaeologist Dena Dincauze has argued that the Coburn site on Cape Cod was a direct ancestor of the Orient phase on Long Island (discussed in Ritchie 1969, 222). Simmons links the cremation burial ceremonialism of the West Ferry site with the Hawes site in Lakeville, the Coburn site, and the Orient phase burials of Long Island. These strong ties and relationships between southeastern New England sites and the Orient phase are important.

All six of Caddy Park’s traits that were analyzed in this article, are found in the Orient phase and its neighbor the Meadowood phase. Both of these phases were contemporaneous with each other.  Neither phase by itself contained all of the traits that are present at Caddy Park. The Orient phase burials show a consistent use of small took kits and overall tool kits. The Orient phase lacked interment of bags of red ochre, lacked pressure flaked tools, and lacked large quantities of tool/preforms. The Meadowood phase contained all three of the traits lacking in the Orient phase. Meadowood artifacts have been documented as far east as Martha’s Vineyard (Ritchie 1969, 222). The evidence strongly suggests that Caddy Park was influenced by both the Orient and Meadowood phases.

 Having established the strong parallels between Caddy Park and the Orient and Meadowood phases, it is possible to make an educated guess as to the earliest possible date of Caddy Park. Ritchie dates the Orient phase from 1043 to 763 BC, and the Meadowood phase from 998 – 563 BC (Ritchie 1994, 165, 181). Caddy Park shows traits of both phases therefore its earliest possible date is 998 BC when both phases were contemporaneous with each other. The Orient and Meadowood phases are contemporaneous with each other till 763 BC. The 763 BC date represents the potential terminus date of Caddy Park. In summation, the date of Caddy Park is arguably circa 1000 BC – 760 BC.

Both the Meadowood and Orient phases were notable for being part of an elaborate mortuary ceremonialism cult found in the Northeast during this time frame. The Caddy Park feature whether a burial, cenotaph, or offering speaks strongly of ceremonialism. Caddy Park is therefore arguably an example and microcosm of the elaboration in ceremonialism that was sweeping through the Northeast.


Mahlstedt, Thomas & Davis, Margo Muhl

  • 2002 Caddy Park, Wollaston Beach, Quincy, Massachusetts: Burial? Cenotaph? Cache? Or Offering?. Massachusetts Archaeology Society, Volume 63 (1,2). Middleborough, MA: Massachusetts Archaeological Society, Inc.

Moorehead, Warren K.

  • 1922 A Report On The Archaeology of Maine: Being A Narrative of Explorations In That State, 1912-1920: Together With Work At Lake Champlain, 1917. Andover, MA. The Andover Press.

Ritchie, William A.

  • 1969 The Archaeology of Martha’s Vineyard: A Study in Coastal Ecology and Adaptation. Garden City, NY. The Natural History Press.
  • 1994 The Archaeology of New York State. Revised Edition. Fleischmanns, NY: Purple Mountain Press.

Robbins, Maurice

  • 1968 An Archaic Ceremonial Complex at Assawompsett. Attleboro, MA: Massachusetts Archaeological Society, Inc.

Simmons, William S.

  • 1970 Cautantowwit’s House: An Indian Burial Ground on the Island of Conanicut in Narragansett Bay. Providence, [RI]: Brown University Press.

Mary E. Gage is the co-author of The Art of Splitting Stone: Early Rock Quarrying Methods in Pre-Industrial New England 1630-1825, and, Stories Carved in Stone: The Story of the Dummer Family, the Merrimac Valley Gravestone Carvers, and the Newbury Carved Stones, 1636-1735. She worked as a volunteer on the Spencer-Pierce-Little Farm (Newbury, MA) archaeological dig conducted by Professor Mary Beaudry, Ph.D.

Since the publication of this article Mary Gage has added new materials discussing an interpretation of this site.
Click here view that discussion.

See Also - Titicut Site: Another Site with Similar Features to Caddy Park



Copyright (c) 2005-2008, James E. Gage & Mary E. Gage. All Rights Reserved.