The archaeological record of the Iroquois supports that settlements were regularly relocated during the protohistoric period (1500-1650 A.D.). With the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) computer software, archaeologists may analyze variables potentially resulting in or influencing the movement of settlements. Through the use of spatial analysis, I argue that Cayuga Iroquois settlement locations were influenced by the environmental characteristics of their surrounding landscape. Specifically, wetlands are believed to have influenced settlement location choices in central New York state. This study examines the spatial relationships between wetland habitats and protohistoric period Cayuga Iroquois settlements where swidden maize agriculture comprised most of the diet. Considering previous research that has linked the movement of settlements to Iroquois agricultural practices, I hypothesize that wetlands played a significant role in the Iroquois subsistence system by providing supplementary plant and animal resources to a diet primarily characterized by maize consumption, and thereby influenced the strategy behind settlement relocation. Nine Cayuga Iroquois settlements dating to the protohistoric period were selected for analysis using GIS. Two control groups, each consisting of nine random points, were generated for comparison. Distance buffers show the amount of wetlands that are situated within 1-, 2.5-, and 5-kilometers from Cayuga settlements and random points. The total number of wetlands within proximity of these distances to the settlements and random points are recorded and analyzed. The results indicate a statistical significance regarding the prominence of wetlands within the landscape which pertains to the Cayuga Iroquois settlement strategy.
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Walker, John H.
Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)
College of Sciences
Dissertations, Academic -- Sciences; Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic
Length of Campus-only Access
Honors in the Major Thesis
Birnbaum, David J., "Using GIS to determine the influence of wetlands on Cayuga Iroquois settlement location strategies" (2011). HIM 1990-2015. 1210.