This year is the 102ndanniversary of the Pennsylvania State Farm Show. According to the Farm Show web site it is the “largest indoor agricultural exposition in the nation, with nearly 6,000 animals, 10,000 competitive exhibits and 300 commercial exhibits.”
The Section of Archaeology at The State Museum of Pennsylvania will again host an exhibit, complete with an authentic replica of a 20-foot long dugout canoe. Our exhibit is entitled Foragers to Farmers, the Development of Agriculture in Pennsylvania. As you read in our last blog, Native Americans and then early settlers had a close connection to the land, which served to provide them with food and medicine. This exhibit explores some of those plants and how they were utilized by our ancestors and showcases some of the artifacts from Pennsylvania.
Farming is more labor intensive than hunting and gathering and there is a debate in archaeology as to why early Indian populations in Pennsylvania gradually began focusing on seed plants such as goosefoot, lambs quarter, and maygrass for food; eventually growing these plants in gardens and finally adding maize to their diet. The dependence on maize in the diet begans about A.D. 1000 eventually leading to the development of large villages and significant changes in social organization. During the 1700s, European farms began to dominate the region and farming changed to include livestock and grains. By the late 19th and early 20th century, farming became more mechanized and fed huge numbers of people. The artifacts on display document this change over the past 5,000 years.
A corn grinding station utilizing stone tools allows visitors to experience the process used by native peoples. Corn quickly became a food staple after A.D. 1200, spurring dramatic social changes. Small egalitarian groups