Nantucket Island was first explored by Native Peoples approximately 11,000 to 12,000 year ago during the early Holocene Paleolndian migration into the Northeast. From a small peak on the vast coastal plain to a remote island at sea, Nantucket’s dynamic terrain has been home to a succession of remarkably adaptive human groups and their decendents since the late glacial recession.
The enduring legacy of a one robust indigenous population is the perpetuation of Native place names throughout the island, referencing the locations of former community settlements or culturally important natural landscape features. Another legacy familiar to most Nantucketers is the material culture of past Native life that blankets the island, commonly discovered by local residents as a result of natural erosional processes and construction. These beautifully crafted stone tools, broken pottery, shelf and animal-bone refuse heaps, organic soil layers, and occasionally burials, are among the finite archaeological resources of Nantucket.