Archaeologists dig up new details about Maine islands and native peoples

Long Island Maine, Archaeologists
Long Island Maine, Archaeologists(WMTW)
Published: Sep. 1, 2022 at 10:06 AM EDT
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LONG ISLAND, Maine (WMTW) - Archaeologists are learning new things about islands along Maine’s coast.

Excavations are underway on Little Chebeague Island and Littlejohn Island off the coast of Falmouth, and experts are digging up animal bones, stone tools, bone tools and shells. Researchers say this will help them learn more about native culture.

They have already found very old pieces of pottery, including some that are 1,000 to 1,500 years old and others that are 2,000 to 2,800 years old. Those pieces were actually found in the same hole, leading scientists to believe the site was used for a long time.

The dig is funded by a grant from the Island Institute to revisit surveys that the University of Southern Maine started in the late 1970s.

Archaeologists started looking at the impacts of coastal and storm erosion, but then discovered more about the native peoples who lived in the area.

“The shell middens tell us about other aspects of native culture that we wouldn’t necessarily find in a non-shell midden environment,” said Tom Bennet, archaeological contractor.

The excavations have uncovered stones from Newfoundland, leading scientists to believe the site was used as part of a trading network.

Because of the discoveries, they are pushing for the islands or Casco Bay in general to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places and designated as a place of important cultural heritage.