Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Maine State Museum Launches New Book – The Swordfish Hunters: The History and Ecology of an Ancient American Sea People

Author and Museum Chief Archaeologist Bruce Bourque Appears for Talk and Book Signing at October 20 Event
Augusta, Maine - The Swordfish Hunters: The History and Ecology of an Ancient American Sea People, a new book by Maine State Museum Chief Archaeologist Bruce Bourque, will be spotlighted in a book launch and signing at the museum in Augusta on Saturday, October 20, 2012 from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.  Bourque will present a talk at 11:00 a.m.;  the book signing will follow from noon to 1:00 p.m.  Copies of The Swordfish Hunters will be available for purchase at the Maine State Museum Store.  Museum admission is free of charge all day.


Published by Bunker Hill Publishing, The Swordfish Hunters explores the story of the Red Paint People and the archaeologists who have tried to understand them over the past century.  “I have been intrigued by the Red Paint People and their unusual culture throughout my career,” explains Bourque. “They lived by the sea and hunted swordfish.  They buried their dead in large, orderly cemeteries that included graves filled with a brilliant red powder, known as ocher, along with stone tools and bone ornaments of exquisite beauty and craftsmanship.  After about 500 years, these people mysteriously vanished.”

“Interwoven with the story of the Red Paint People is one of scientific growth and evolution,” continues Bourque.  “Archaeologists have adopted new research models in collaboration with a broad range of natural sciences to flesh out the story of a remarkable prehistoric culture, centered exclusively in Maine.”

“Bruce Bourque’s The Swordfish Hunters captivated me as no recent book has.  I could not put it down,” comments Robert Steneck, Professor of Marine Sciences at the University of Maine. “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.”

Bruce Bourque is chief archaeologist at the Maine State Museum and teaches anthropology at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. He grew up in Massachusetts but spent boyhood summers in Maine, where he heard stories of the Red Paint People. Educated at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, the University of Colorado, Boulder, and Harvard University, he matriculated in engineering school, but found his attention drawn to thoughts of the past. Eventually, he found his way to archaeology and hasn’t looked back.  He lives in Freeport, Maine.

For more information, see the museum’s website www.mainestatemuseum.org.

1 comment:

  1. I am writing a children's novel based largely on Bruce Bourque's earlier research on Maine's historic sea people. I interviewed him in the late 90s and bought his book Twelve Thousand Years. I got to handle their stone tools. It's a great escape, to reenter that world every time I work on the book. So glad to hear of the new Bourque book -- will order right away.

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