The Red Paint People: An Ancient American Indian CultureHardback
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- Publisher: Bunker Hill Publishing Inc
- Format: Hardback | 96 pages
- Dimensions: 155mm x 236mm x 23mm | 771g
- Publication date: 17 October 2012
- Publication City/Country: Piermont
- ISBN 10: 1593730381
- ISBN 13: 9781593730383
- Illustrations note: 90 ILLUSTRATIONS
- Sales rank: 1,479,269
Five thousand years ago an American people vanished. They lived by the sea and along the lower stretches of the rivers in what is now Maine. They harvested the sea, notably for one of its more dangerous prey, the sword fish. They buried their dead in orderly graves filled with a ritual red powder known as ochre, along with stone tools and bone ornaments of exquisite beauty and craftsmanship. Compared with other contemporary maritime cultures, for example those who occupied what is now Scandinavia, the Red Paint People stood out. They hunted more dangerous prey, had far-flung networks, more elaborate mortuary rituals, and larger, more elaborate stone tools and decorative ornaments. They worked in wood for buildings and furniture and boats. They effectively invented the cemetery in which the dead were buried, and unlike most other cultures, there were seemingly few distinctions between the rulers and the ruled, the wealthy and the poor. Today there are around forty-four cemeteries with thousands of excavated graves and their artifacts which together form a fascinating if distant keyhole view of an early American culture.
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Bruce Bourque is Chief Archaeologist and Curator of Ethnology at the Maine State Museum. He teaches at Bates College and is the author of Twelve Thousand Years: American Indians in Maine.
Bruce Bourque's The Swordfish Hunters captivated me as no recent book has. I could not put it down. Thousands of years ago, Maine's Red Paint People were among the first maritime cultures in the Americas. They could have subsisted on easily caught cod, but they chose to capture dangerous and elusive swordfish. Bourque explains beautifully the prehistory of these people, the evolution of archaeological thinking about them, and the myriad new scientific threads that shed new light on this old culture. Anyone with even a passing interest in New England's deep maritime roots must read this book. -- Robert Steneck, Professor of Marine Sciences University of Maine