Archaeological digs have uncovered 9,000-year-old signs of a nomadic tribe.

DRESDEN (AP) – Archaeologists excavating a site overlooking the Kennebec River say a nomadic tribe of American Indians encamped on this grassy knoll about 9,000 years ago.

Hundreds of distinctive stone fragments and a few tool remains indigenous to Mt. Kineo on Moosehead Lake and New Hampshire’s White Mountains have been uncovered during work this month.

“The distribution of findings, even though the ground was once tilled for farming, tells us there was a camp here,” said Arthur Spiess, senior archaeologist for the Maine Historic Preservation Commission.

“In this case, we probably have a single culture with a single camp that could have been here two weeks, two months, but certainly no longer than two years.”

Archaeologists theorize that members of the tribe traveled 250 miles from northern Maine to the site in Dresden, where they hunted wild game.

The Maine Historic Preservation Commission was asked last year to evaluate the 25-acre parcel, which has been preserved as open space since 2001.

Spiess, who has been conducting archaeological investigations across Maine for nearly 25 years, made a significant discovery during his first visit to the site last summer.

“Lo and behold we started finding a lot of chips last year. Nobody knew it was here,” he said.

Spiess later identified the era of the tribe’s visit to Dresden. That discovery was significant because of the roughly 6,000 known primitive sites in Maine, only 30 are from that period.

A number of volunteers pitched in when Spiess returned to the picturesque site this month. Maxine Collins of Wilton was those who showed up Thursday.

“I like doing this because it’s a lot cheaper than gambling, but it has the same rewards. You’re always playing for that pot of gold and you never know when you’re going to find it,” she said.

The artifacts excavated will eventually be turned over to the Maine State Museum, Spiess said. In the meantime, he will examine each one while trying to piece together a history of the people who lived on this land thousands of years ago.

Spiess already knows, based on fragments identified as being from Mt. Kineo, that the tribe was not concerned about traveling long distances.

“They moved around quite a bit. They had a mobile lifestyle and didn’t stay in one place for very long,” he said.

Because there is no buildup of sediment at the site, Spiess has determined that it never flooded. Consequently, the excavation pits are only 18 inches deep.

“What we are standing on now is more or less what those people stood on 9,000 years ago, give or take a foot or so,” Spiess said.

AP-ES-08-16-03 1344EDT



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