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 2013


The development of the nation…

The Maine coast in July…

Seakayaking… Does it get any better?

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


Date- July 7th until  August 4th, 2013 (four 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 additional cost.

To Apply- Applications will be due March 1, 2013. Although the deadline has passed, there are spots open. Please contact Dr. Carter if you are interested. Click here to download application.

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

Excavating Joy/Flood

A 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, fruit, cookies and water) and end the field day at 4 pm. Upon our return to the house, designated students will prepare the evening meal. Afterwards, we wash artifacts and catalog them until all materials from the day have been processed. Students will also ensure that their paperwork for the day are entered into a digital database. 

Weymouth Point 1773

The Project

We will be studying the Joy/Flood homestead, a c. 1770s-1811 residence occupied by one of the first Euroamerican residents of Surry, Maine.  Nathaniel Joy, a “squatter sovereign,” lived in a small house about 100 meters (c. 300 feet) from the rocky shore. In 1784, Nathaniel sold the lot to the Flood family and the site was occupied by Dominicus Flood until 1811, when he moved his homestead inland to the newly built road. The Joys, along with the Millikens, Smiths, Floods 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 essential questions.

First, how do people behave in pioneer situations? When Nathaniel Joy arrived in Maine, the Native American population had been drastically reduced by European diseases and a series of destructive wars. In this nearly empty void, how did communities develop? Where they extensions of the communities from which these families came? How do they see and utilize these apparent abundance of resources?

Second, 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 had something that few pioneers of the time possessed, 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? How did settlers play off the "commons" of the ocean and the "private" of their own land? The dynamic interaction between the settlers and their resources would make their pioneering experience significantly different than for those headed west.

Third, how did the history of Downeasters affect the way in which community developed? In 1762, the General Court of Massachusetts (Maine was a part of Massachusetts until 1820) began to grant townships along the coast to groups of proprietors. The grant for Surry (then township #6 east of the Penobscot) included 5 other townships (modern day Bucksport, Orland, Castine, Penobscot, Brooksville, Sedgwick, Brooklin and Blue Hill) and listed 360 proprietors, who were from Massachusetts, especially Essex County. Very few of these proprietors settled the land they were granted, but were following a long tradition of land speculation in Massachusetts. The land was settled by young men from southern Maine, who did not own the land and, hence, were considered squatters. Land occupation and ownership was contentious until 1785, when squatters were "quieted" by the General Court who granted them rights to the land they occupied. How does this contradiction between documented ownership and occupation affect the development of Downeast communities?

Joy/Flood Excavation Plan Drawing

For a higher resolution map, please click Here.

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 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