Cape Cod’s Nauset Archaeological District

The Nauset Archaeological District (or “Coast Guard Beach Site,19BN374” or “North Salt Pond Site,19BN390”) is a National Historic Landmark District in Eastham, Massachusetts. Located within the southern portion of the Cape Cod National Seashore, this area was the location of substantial ancient settlements since at least 4,000 BC.

ChamplainThe first written account of this area was by Samuel de Champlain in 1605, in which he described sailing into a baysurrounded by the wigwams of the Nauset tribe. The account detailed the settlement’s crops (e.g. corn, beans, squash, tobacco), housing (round wigwams covered with thatched reeds), and clothing (woven from grasses, hemp, and animal skins). De Champlain’s map also depicts one of their fishing methods, using a conical weir constructed of saplings and grass rope, designed to capture fish swimming from the marsh into a pond. To farm the land, they used stone hoes and fire-hardened wood tools. About 150 people were living at the site around Nauset Harbor, and about 500-600 were living around Stage Harbor to the south in the area of present day Chatham. Archaeological studies have since shown that these settlements were occupied year-round.
After 1620, English colonists from the settlement at Plymouth visited Nauset many times to buy food and trade. In addition to goods for trade, however, the Europeans also unwittingly introduced diseases, for which the Nauset people had no immunity. Many of them died as a result, and their population declined drastically. In 1639 about half of the English from Plymouth relocated to the Nauset area, settling the town that is now Eastham.

Clicking on the links above will provide more information about the Cape Cod National Seashore and the Nauset tribe.

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