For more than ten thousand years, humans have lived in New Jersey. From Summit to Cape May, from Trenton to the Jersey Shore, the state is a treasure trove of archaeological artifacts, revealing much about those who occupied the region prior to European settlement. As a rule, only the most durable of human creations-items of stone and pottery-survive the ravages of time. To complicate matters, the onslaught of our own culture and the indiscriminate looting of sites by greedy collectors have further diminished the cultural materials left behind. The task of the archaeologist is to gather and interpret these scraps for the benefit of science and the public. But digging up relics is a trivial pursuit if the only outcome is a collection of artifacts, however attractive or valuable they may be. Understanding what those relics mean in human terms is crucial. In Looking beneath the Surface, R. Alan Mounier looks at the human past of New Jersey. With particular focus on the ancient past and native cultures, the author tells the story of archaeology in the state as it has unfolded, and as it continues to unfold. New investigations and discoveries continually change our views and interpretations of the past. In jargon-free language, Mounier provides an in-depth introduction offering information to understand general archaeological practices as well as research in New Jersey. Subsequent chapters describe artifact types, archaeological settlements, and burial practices in detail. He concludes with vignettes of twenty-one archaeological investigations throughout the state to illustrate the variability of sites and the accomplishments of dedicated archaeologists, both professional and amateur.
R. Alan Mounier is a professional archaeologist, trained at Syracuse University and Memorial University of Newfoundland. President of the Archaeological Society of New Jersey, Mounier also owns an archaeological consulting firm.