Pennsylvania Indian Artifacts

Interested in discovering Indian artifacts of Pennsylvania? Do you want to learn more about the artifacts of the Indians of Pennsylvania? Read our guide for more facts and information…

Before European expansion and exploration on the North American continent, the state of Pennsylvania was home to over 15 000 Indians. This population was divided amongst a variety of tribes including the Delaware, the Erie, the Iroquois, the Shawnee, the Tutelo and many more. The tribes of Pennsylvania may have been diverse; however, Algonquin was the prominent language. The population continued to thrive for many years but with European settlement it soon dwindled and by 1790 the Indian population in Pennsylvania was down to about 1000. The population depleted so quickly not only due to new settlement but also due to the introduction of disease; as well many Indians simply chose to leave to a neighboring state. Today, modern Pennsylvania has no recognized tribes and few settlements.

General Artifacts

One of the most celebrated artifact sites in Pennsylvania is Indian Caverns near Tyrone. This location has unearthed many beautiful and complete artifacts. Many of the artifacts that have been discovered date back to 8000 BC. Pottery shards are a common artifact find in Pennsylvania as are triangular points. It is rare to find intact stone tools or weapons as artifacts; however, not unheard of. On location artifacts such as an ancient council fire pit have also been discovered. These general artifacts of Indian culture are critical as they are for the most part the only remaining history of the tribes of Pennsylvania.


The artifacts of Indians are not all for practical purposes such as weaponry or tools but also for cultural intents. The Delaware tribe of Pennsylvania fashioned musical instruments, notably a flute. These Indians created the flute out of either a reed or a deer’s tibia. The flute was then used by the tribe often with other musical instruments such as drums. The flute was used not only for personal enjoyment but it was also used during religious ceremonies. It is also believed that the flute was used for general celebration to commemorate events and pass the days.


Clothing that has survived time is also an insightful artifact. Moccasins are known as an article of Indian clothing and offer insight into the designs that a tribe valued. Pieces of clothing are difficult artifacts to find; however, pieces are occasionally found in burial grounds or village remains. Moccasins are insightful artifacts as the decoration varies according to the tribe that the pieces belonged to. The shoes were traditionally made from the hide of animals as it was a common practice to let no part of hunted game go to waste. Once the shoe itself had been designed it would then be decorated. The decoration would vary according to the desired pattern but also based on the stones available for beadwork. Some of the beadwork can lead to confusion amongst tribal ownership due to trade amongst the different groups.

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