DRESDEN (AP) – Archaeologists and volunteers will visit a site along the Kennebec River this week in search of clues about a group of American Indians who set up camp there 9,000 years ago.

The dig is a cooperative effort involving the Maine Historic Preservation Commission and the Friends of Merrymeeting Bay.

“The process is a long, slow one; and part of the business of an archaeologist is learning how to be bored and patient,” said Arthur Spiess, a senior archaeologist with the commission.

Uncovered thus far were small shards of rock that probably chipped off while Indian hunters were making knives and spears. A dense type of quartz known as chert, the shards are no bigger than a fingernail.

“We’ve found chips of stone tools, but nothing complete or recognizable to the layman,” Spiess said.

The project started about a year ago, when the preservation commission conducted an archaeological assessment of the large grassy field. They expected to find artifacts left by Irish settlers from the 1730s but instead turned up prehistoric stone chips.

Experts from the preservation commission and volunteers from the Merrymeeting Bay group work alongside each other as they drop small amounts of dirt into a bucket and put it through a large screen to look for artifacts.

“Ninety percent of the work, you don’t find anything,” said Kaare Mathiasson, a museum technician with the preservation commission. “That makes it so much more exciting when you do find something.”

The group is scheduled to work at the site through Saturday, a day that could prove to be significant if Mathiasson’s experience holds true. “The last day is when you make the big find and you wish you had more time,” he said.

The land is managed by the state Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and was purchased through the Land for Maine’s Future program, Spiess said.


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