Acadia National Park

April 21, 2011 by staff 

Acadia National Park, An archaeological research project focuses on food scraps left by the prehistoric inhabitants of the coast of Maine is shedding new light on the diet and habits of some of the first citizens of Maine. The great discovery: the indigenous peoples in Maine rather than to the coast during the winter until the arrival of Europeans changed their long migration patterns.

A team of researchers led by Dr. Arthur Spiess – which is both the chief archaeologist of the Maine Historic Preservation Commission and a board member with Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor – have since the summer of 2010 was examination of the recovered items from the shell of the cost of garbage in Acadia National Park. The project was funded by the LL Bean Acadia Research Fellowship and was facilitated by the staff of Acadia National Park.

A midden is essentially an old landfill, where the leftovers from the meals of the native inhabitants of Maine were discarded. According to Spiess, the discovery of shells of clams and mussels mixed with animal bones for consumption elsewhere is a boon for archaeologists. Typically, the Maine acidic soil common to majority rule will make the bones to completely decompose within 100 years. The presence of shells in the garbage sites has the effect of neutralizing the soil, allowing the fish; bird and mammal bones remain intact for millennia. There are reports; there are thousands of seashells worth digging along the coast of Maine, three quarters of which are located around the Bay of French.

The elements Spiess and his team have been studying recently estimated that about 2,500 years – a period known as the period of pottery – and have been excavated from a site within Acadia National Park in late 1970 by archaeologist Dr. University of Maine David Sanger. To Spiess, search for items in the Acadia shell midden site is a small part of a larger study.

“This is a puzzle piece that goes into a bigger picture,” said Spiess, who has been studying coastal midden sites found around the Bay of French over the past four years and other garbage for the last coastal Maine 30. “What we’re trying to do is find out how people made a living on the coast of Maine in the last 2,000 to 3,000 years.”

In examining the bones left over from meals pre-Columbian peoples of the region – which were the ancestors of modern Native American tribes such as the Passamaquoddy and Penobscot – researchers were able to deduce much about the lives of these people.

“There is a real element of the reconstruction of pre-Columbian, pre-European life of these villages on the coast,” said Spiess. “We have a complete record of all hunting and fishing they did.”

In the case of landfill Acadia, researchers found that 90 percent or more of the fish bones found were small, largely composed of flounder and the scorpion. Some of the bones were also 20 large – 40-pound cod, several species of birds, seals, moose, deer and bears.

“One of the questions archaeologists have been wondering about the cost [of Maine] is: what do people live here throughout the year, and in particular the winter,” said Spiess.

By using the bones to determine which species of migratory birds were hunted for food in the pre-Columbian inhabitants and examining growth layers of clamshells recovered, investigators determined that the majority of coastal middens in Maine were the result of the winter campsites, and that ancient people lived on the coast throughout the year. According to Spiess, this conclusion is contrary to conventional wisdom, which states that indigenous peoples withdrew from the coast during the winter. Spiess also said that the natives do not migrate inland during the winter until after the arrival of Europeans in Maine, and the new migration trend was the result of exploiting native European fur trade.

The results of the project may be useful in attempts to Acadia National Park to restore the island a number of streams and other fish passages have been blocked since the colonial era.

The results of the project refer to this restoration effort, as a picture of the types of species that were here before the sequence of changes, “said Rebecca Cole-Will, which is the cultural resources manager and was responsible Acadia management of the archaeological project on behalf of the park. The results report a long-range look at the effects of climate change and current, and act as an environmental record of the species of fish in the area before the arrival of European settlers.

Spiess also noted that the size of cod bones found in the Dumpster ancient fishery indicate a sharp contrast to the present.

“There was some great French Cod Bay 2,000 years ago. People much higher than in the inshore cod stocks there,” said Spiess.

Spiess investigation ‘of the items excavated in the midden shell Acadia National Park is expected to close later this year.

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