The Department of Sociology & Anthropology

Students rest during lunchtime on the beach. Mountains in the background are part of Acadia National Park.


Archaeology in Maine 2011

Flyer Dec 2010


The development of the nation…

The Maine coast in August…

Seakayaking… Does it get any better?

Join Muhlenberg College's archaeologist, Dr. Ben Carter, for three weeks of archaeology on the coast of Maine.


Date- July 24th until  August 14th, 2011(three full weeks)

Location- Surry, Hancock County, Maine

Credit- 1 course unit credit at Muhlenberg College (equal to one full course)

Cost - $2200- $2400 (depending upon the number of students)

Cost includes tuition, room, board and transportation in Maine. It does NOT include travel to Maine,  personal items (clothing, toiletries, etc.) or books (c. $50) and personal field equipment (c. $75).

Lodging- We will be living in a 19th century farmhouse in the small village of Surry, Maine. Some rooms are singles others are not. One large bedroom contains six beds. Beds are assigned  based upon gender and then randomly. Singles can  be requested for medical reasons, but incur an additional cost ($1000).

To Apply- Complete the application and send to Muhlenberg College by March 15, 2011.

Contact- Director, Benjamin Carter , Ph.D. Email Lana Williams.

Students at work at the Joy/Flood siteA Typical Day

Students prepare their own simple breakfast (e.g., cereal, granola and yogurt, a bagel). We depart the house at 7am for the five minute drive to the site. We spend the day on a variety of activities including survey, mapping and excavation. We break at noon for a 45 minute lunch of standard field fare (e.g., pb&j sandwiches and fruit) and end the field day at 4 pm. When we return to the house, some students prepare the evening meal. Afterwards, there is still much work to do. We will wash artifacts and catalog them until we are done. At this point, students ensure that all of the days work is entered into a digital database. 

An aerial view of the Joy/Flood excavation.

The Project

We will be studying a c. 1770s-1811 homestead settled by one of the first residents of Surry, Maine.  Nathaniel Joy, a “squatter sovereign,” lived in a small house about 100 feet from the rocky shore. Joy was the son of Benjamin Joy, who is commonly known as one of two founders of neighboring Ellsworth. Benjamin Joy, however, lived immediately adjacent his son's home in Surry. The Joys, along with the Millikens, Smiths and others, were the first wave of settlers to arrive in Downeast Maine (east of the Penobscot River- modern day Hancock and Washington Counties). It is these people, and those like them, that are the original Downeasters. Today, Downeast Maine is largely known for lobsters and blueberries, but the region has a fascinating and unique history.

We have three essentail questions.

First, how do people behave in pioneer situations? When Nathaniel Joy arrived in Maine, the Native American population was very low due to European diseases and a series of destructive wars. In this nearly empty void, how did communities develop?

Second, how did the history of Downeasters affect the way in which community developed? There are three potential origins for the original Downeasters. First, many were originally from the lower classes of England. Some were landless fisherpeople from southwestern England. Others were Scots-Irish, Scots who had been given land in Ireland, obstensibly to improve their lot, but who were treated only slightly better than the Irish by the English government. These groups combined in southern Maine to form a distinct type of farmer/ fisherpeople society.

However, these people were beset by patronizing and domineering plutocrats from the upper classes of Massachussetts. In southern Maine, the Great Proprietors (claimants to hereditary deeds and charters from the English Monarchy) attempted to control both land and society from the comfort of urban Massachusetts. Mainers resisted, often violently and quite successfully. They became known as White Indians. When they moved Downeast these pressures relaxed. At first, they were squatters, people who claimed ownership of the land but did not have a proper title. Generally, they believed that the nation (not wealthy plutocrats) had won the land in the Revolution and they had improved it by building a house and clearing fields. It was theirs. Unlike in southern Maine where the proprietors continued to battle residents, Downeasters were unlikely to lose their land, especially after 1783 when the Quieting Act was passed, which allowed them to purchase the title to their land cheaply. How does the dual history of poverty in England and resistance to established society in Massacussetts affect the way in which Surry society developed?

Thirdly, most studies of pioneers in the late 1700s and 1800s focus upon the westward movement of people. The coast of Maine has been ignored as important frontier region. Mainers has something that few pioneers of the time had, coast.In particular, the rocky coast provided an amazingly bountiful harvest that frequently kept people alive when agriculture in the rocky, acidic soils proved less than ideal. What role did the coast and coastal resources play in the way that the land was settled and in the resultant communities?

Map of the Joy/Flood Site- Click for larger Version.Map of Joy/Flood Site- Click for larger version

Student Training

Students will be trained in methods of excavation, documentation, mapping, and photography. if the winds are correct, we may be able to record the site with KAP (kite aerial photography). Much of this will be done using open source technology to digitally record and analyze data. We will also study the early history of Maine and the nation. We work long days in the field, do our own housekeeping, cook our own food and, in the evening, wash artifacts and work in the lab. This is not a vacation- it is an adventure.

Kayaking during down time