Fieldnotes from the Eastern Region

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Art Spiess explaining the lay of the land to President Mark Michel and Field Representative Kelley Berliner.
Maine State Archaeologist Art Spiess explaining the lay of the land to President Mark Michel and Field Representative Kelley Berliner.

Last week President Mark Michel, Eastern Regional Director Andy Stout, and the Conservancy’s Eastern Regional Field Rep. Kelley Berliner spent a week in the field. They met with New England state archaeologists, visiting sites, and checking on our site preserves. Those meetings included field visits with Maine State Archaeologist Arthur Spiess and Ed Friedman, Chair of the Friends of Merrymeeting Bay Land Trust.  They met at the Conservancy’s Dresden Preserve, a site that dates predominantly to the Early through Middle Archaic Periods (8,000-3,000 B.C.). Notably, this site has produced more artifacts from this period than any other in the state of Maine. Thanks to Ed and the Friends of Merrymeeting Bay, The Archaeological Conservancy has recently expanded this preserve, ensuring that additional site areas, as well as natural habitat and rare plant species, are permanently protected.

The team also visited the Waterside Shell Heap Preserve located on Frenchman’s Bay also in Maine. This site contains the remains of a deep shell midden that is associated with the Red Paint Culture/Moorehead Phase. This phase dates from 2,500-1,800 B.C.  Recently the site was excavated and documented by a team of archaeologists from the University of Maine lead by Brian S. Robinson and as a part of archaeologist Sky Heller’s doctoral dissertation project. These excavations were the first ones at this site undertaken in over 70 years. Archaeologists were able to identify previously excavated units and uncovered numerous deposits of fish bones, contributing greatly to the study of prehistoric environments. This site is at risk of erosion and storm damage due to its location on the shore, but the Eastern Regional team can report that increased vegetation on the bank will help protect against these forces.

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