Bruce Bourque, Maine State Museum Chief Archaeologist, will be at Patten Free Library in Bath on Tuesday, November 5 at 6:30pm to sign and talk about his new book The Swordfish Hunters: The History and Ecology of an Ancient American Sea People.
The Swordfish Hunters explores the story of the mysterious Red Paint People. “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 five hundred 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.”
In addition to his work at the Maine State Museum, Bruce Bourque teaches anthropology at Bates College. He lives in Freeport.