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Birch Cove and the Protohistoric Period of the Northern Quoddy Region, New Brunswick, Canada
Sue Blair, Margaret Horne, A. Katherine Patton, and W. Jesse Webb

Journal of the North Atlantic, Special Volume 10 (2017): 59–69

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Journal of the North Atlantic S. Blair, M. Horne, A.K. Patton, and W.J. Webb 2017 Special Volume 10 59 Introduction While over a century of archaeological fieldwork in the Quoddy Region, in southwestern New Brunswick, has revealed a complex record of coastal settlement that spans most of the last three millennia, the period immediately before and during contact with European fishers and explorers remains enigmatic. This period, encompassing the 16th and early 17th centuries, is conventionally referred to in the region as the protohistoric period (Whitehead 1993). The lack of archaeological materials from this period in the larger region has caused some to refer to the 16th century as the “lost century” (Turnbull 1984:7). In this paper, we explore this critical period of transition through the lens of recent fieldwork at BgDs-25, a shallow, shell-bearing site at the mouth of Birch Cove. Birch Cove is a small, tidal, saltwater body along the northern shore of the Quoddy Region (Fig.1). This water body contains intertidal mud flats and moderately steep rocky shores, a fringe of grassy salt marsh and coastal forest, and a brackish water pond that is fed by a freshwater stream and is periodically inundated by ocean water. Archaeological surveys conducted in the Quoddy Region over the last century resulted in the identification of several pre-contactera archaeological sites and landscape features around the margins of Birch Cove and the brackish pond at its northeastern edge. While the research on these sites is preliminary, this work suggests that they include several small, shallow, shell-bearing sites dating to the Late Maritime Woodland (LMW) (BgDs-15, BgDs-25 and BgDs-35; see Fig. 1). In this paper, we summarize recent archaeological research undertaken in the Birch Cove area, but focus specifically on excavations conducted by a joint University of New Brunswick/University of Toronto field project at BgDs-25 during the summer of 2015. This site consisted of a shallow deposit of highly structured features and artifacts. Although there were a few scattered fragments of recent, Euro-Canadian artifacts (including 9 square-cut nail fragments and a single fragment of buff-colored earthenware), most of the artifacts recovered during the 2015 field season consisted of lithic tools and debris. These lithic materials were consistent with assemblages from sites dated to the later end of the LMW period (between 1000 BP and contact). A single radiometric date run on terrestrial mammal bone, however, suggests that the site dates to the 16th century, placing it in the protohistoric period. While analysis of excavated materials is ongoing, our preliminary results are providing insight into the nature of settlement and subsistence systems in the Quoddy Region during this otherwise poorly understood time period. The Birch Cove Landscape Birch Cove is an indentation of Bocabec Bay, located along the northern shore of Passamaquoddy Bay, in southwestern New Brunswick (see Fig. 1). The cove also composes part of the traditional territory of the Passamaquoddy (Pestomakati), Algonquian- speaking, mobile foragers who lived in the coastal region around the Saint Croix drainage and estuary. Passamaquoddy Bay itself forms the northwest margin of the Bay of Fundy. It is, in part, circumscribed by the estuaries of the Saint Croix and Magaguadavic watersheds, and is characterized by an abundance of islands and islets, and an indented Birch Cove and the Protohistoric Period of the Northern Quoddy Region, New Brunswick, Canada Sue Blair1*, Margaret Horne1, A. Katherine Patton2, and W. Jesse Webb1 Abstract - The protohistoric period in North America is broadly characterized by transformations in indigenous lifeways. Excavations during the summer of 2015 at BgDs-25, a small shell-bearing site in the northern Quoddy Region of southwest New Brunswick, Canada, present a strong case for continuity as well as change. Some of the archaeological materials from BgDs-25, including faunal remains, lithic technology, and settlement structure, share commonalities with earlier Quoddy Region Maritime Woodland period assemblages. In conjunction with other work in this area, however, the BgDs-25 results also suggest important shifts took place in settlement, subsistence, and lithic technology during the late 16th and early 17th centuries. These shifts may have been a response to the arrival of Europeans, but may have also extended processes of change that had their initiation in the earlier Maritime Woodland period. North American East Coast Shell Midden Research Journal of the North Atlantic 1Department of Anthropology, University of New Brunswick, 13 MacAulay Lane, Annex C, Suite 28, Fredericton, NB, Canada E3B 5A3. 2Anthropology Department, University of Toronto, Anthropology Building, 19 Russell Street, Toronto, ON, Canada M5S 2S2. *Corresponding author - sblair@unb.ca. 2017 Special Volume 10:59–69 Journal of the North Atlantic S. Blair, M. Horne, A.K. Patton, and W.J. Webb 2017 Special Volume 10 60 coastline. Some archaeological researchers have described this portion of the Bay of Fundy in biogeographic terms, integrating the Passamaquoddy Bay area with some of the large offshore islands (especially the Deer and Campobello Island group) to define the Quoddy Region (Black 2004; see also Thomas 1983). This distinction is archaeologically useful and has been employed to integrate insular archaeological patterns (Black 1993, 2004) with those of mainland Passamaquoddy Bay (Sanger 1987, 1988). Birch Cove’s inner, northeastern edge contains an unusual brackish water body, Sam Orr’s Pond, which has been the focus of ecological, geological, and more recently, archaeological research (Blair et al. 2004, Carriker 1959, Dickinson and Broster 2007, Dickinson et al. 2005, Dillon and Manzi 1992, Medcof et al. 1965, Tracy and South 1989). This pond is a basin separated from Birch Cove by two rocky sills that create a 6.5-ha inner pond, and a 1.5-ha narrows connecting the inner pond and Birch Cove. During high tides (which in the Birch Cove area range between 5.7 m for neap tides and 7.9 m for spring tides; Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada [DFO] Tide Tables for Saint Andrews), the pond is charged with salt water. This distinctive microenvironment is home to plants and animals that are not generally found along the Bay of Fundy coastline (Carriker 1959, Dillon and Manzi 1992, Medcof et al. 1965, Tracy and South 1989). In recognition of the ecological importance of Sam Orr’s Pond, several landowners came together to work with a local organization, the Nature Trust of New Brunswick, to protect much of the area around Birch Cove by placing it in an ecological land trust in 1999. As of 2015, all of the coastal and nearshore areas around Sam Orr’s Pond and Birch Cove (including the areas containing BgDs-14, BgDs-15, and BgDs-25) were a part of this land trust, with the exception of a small strip of land (50 m wide) on the shore of Birch Cove to the west of the outlet of Sam Orr’s Pond that runs northeast to Highway 127, which has remained in private hands. Although the other Figure 1. Passamaquoddy Bay and Birch Cove, showing sites and features discussed herein. Journal of the North Atlantic S. Blair, M. Horne, A.K. Patton, and W.J. Webb 2017 Special Volume 10 61 sites are within the land trust, BgDs-35 is located on this privately held strip of land. History of Field Work in Birch Cove The Birch Cove area has undergone several distinct phases of research. Although the Quoddy Region was the locus of some of the earliest archaeological research in the Canadian Maritimes (Matthew 1884; see also Hrynick and Black 2012), the earliest identification of sites in Birch Cove occurred with the development of the first systematic approach to the region in the late 1960s under David Sanger, then at the Archaeological Survey of Canada (ASC). Over the course of several years, Sanger inspected erosional surfaces along many parts of mainland Passamaquoddy Bay, in some cases systematically exploring shoreline segments, and in others, following up on information provided by local collectors and landowners (D. Sanger, University of Maine, Orono, ME, USA, pers. comm.). During this period, Sanger tested and excavated a number of sites in the area, including Ministers Island (BgDs- 10) and the Carson site (BgDr-5), among others (Sanger 1987). During this survey, Sanger identified and explored several sites in and around Birch Cove, including the three shell-bearing sites, BgDs-14, BgDs-15, and BgDs-25 (Fig. 1). In 1970, the New Brunswick government established a provincial authority, Archaeological Services New Brunswick (ASNB—later Archaeological Services). One of the major goals of this new agency was site inventory and basic site recording and, as a result, provincially based archaeological teams began multi-season survey programs across the province, including in the Quoddy Region (Davis 1978, 1983; Davis and Christianson 1981). The Quoddy Region surveys resulted in an extensive database built around the nucleus of information collected between 1950 and 1970. Due to the comprehensive goals of these surveys, the primary method of site identification was the location of eroding shell-bearing deposits, such that the resulting coastal database is skewed heavily towards visibly eroding shellbearing sites (Black 2004, Blair and Black 1993). Initial surveys focused on mainland Passamaquoddy Bay, with offshore islands added through time. The Birch Cove area was revisited in this period, and an additional site, the shallow shell-bearing site BgDs- 35, was identified. In 2004, the University of New Brunswick conducted archaeological research in Birch Cove under the direction of S. Blair and P. Dickinson, in the context of an archaeological field school (Blair et al. 2004, Dickinson et al. 2005). Although the 2004 season included a survey of eroding land margins and beaches around Birch Cove, and the placement of a single 50-cm-square test unit in BgDs-25, the primary focus of the field school was the excavation of a small portion of BgDs-15 (Dickinson et al. 2005). BgDs-15 is located on a broad (20–30 m wide) bedrock bench where pockets of shell-bearing deposits occur in dry, silty loam immediately above the undulating surface of the bedrock (Fig. 1). The site is covered with a thin cap of salt-tolerant grasses and sedges. The deposits at this site are typically shallow (between approximately 20 and 50 cm deep above bedrock). The site is adjacent to a steep shingle beach to the south and west, and it is actively eroding from both directions. The excavations at BgDs-15 revealed a small, shallow, shellbearing deposit containing a rock-lined hearth and a midden area containing shell and animal bones. A radiocarbon assay on charcoal from the hearth returned a historic to modern date (160 ± 30 B.P., Beta 376315), which the 2σ calibration places between cal A.D. 1665 to 1710, or cal A.D. 1720 to 1890, or cal A.D. 1910 to post 1950. However, a piece of terrestrial mammal bone returned an age of 1270 ± 30 B.P. (Beta-365483), which the 2σ calibration places between cal A.D 670 to 780, or cal A.D. 790 to 800. This latter age places the site within the LMW period. During the 2004 field season, the UNB team also placed a single 50-cm-square test unit in BgDs-25 (Fig. 2). During the inspection of beaches, small, non-contiguous exposures of shell were observed on the low area between a marsh and the surrounding bedrock outcrops along the outer arm of the northeastern-most point delimited by Birch Cove. The test unit was placed in the low area immediately adjacent to the marsh, and ~10 m in from the tree-line along the edge of the beach. This test unit revealed a thin layer of Mya arenaria (softshell clam) shells and a few pieces of Buccinum undatum (northern whelk) beneath a thin organic debris layer (Dickinson et al. 2005). The shell deposit continued in a homogeneous layer to ~35–40 cm deep, where it became mixed with gravel, charcoal flecks, and dark organic soil. Given time constraints, the test unit was discontinued at ~40 cm below surface, with the intention of returning in subsequent field seasons. Further fieldwork at this site occurred in 2015, which is reported below. In 2014, archaeologists from the provincial Archaeological Services conducted some minor testing at BgDs-35 at the behest of the landowner (Jarratt 2015). BgDs-35 consists of a small area of shell and Journal of the North Atlantic S. Blair, M. Horne, A.K. Patton, and W.J. Webb 2017 Special Volume 10 62 lithics exposed on the surface near the intersection of the tree line and the intertidal zone on the western side of the Sam Orr’s Pond salt marsh, near the northern margin of Birch Cove (Fig. 1). Exposed bedrock and large boulders suggest that pockets of soil containing cultural material and scattered clamshell mixed with dark brown organic soil are widely but thinly deposited over the bedrock. The 2014 testing involved two 50-cm-square units that were excavated in 10-cm arbitrary levels. Jarratt (2015:6) describes the site as a “black soil midden”; within the two 50-cm units, she recovered bone fragments, lithic artifacts, charcoal, and fire-cracked rock (Jarratt 2015). Two radiocarbon assays have been verbally reported, one in the earlier part of the LMW (ca. 1200 B.P.), and one in the later portion of the LMW (ca. 700 B.P.; B.D. Suttie, Archaeological Services, Fredericton, NB, Canada, pers. comm.). Although no depths were reported in the 2015 technical report, one of the plates (labeled “Figure 15”) indicates shallow deposits of shell immediately under the surface and continuing ~10–20 cm in dark brown soil over large pieces of angular bedrock (Jarratt 2015:25). The report does not give details about the presence of possible features (although these may be suggested by the presence of fire-cracked rock and charcoal), or the artifacts themselves. Although the 2014 field testing was the first subsurface examination of the site, the site itself is actively eroding, and monitoring efforts by UNB Anthropology (especially S. Blair and D.W. Black) have resulted in the recovery of lithic artifacts consisting of an array of flakes, unifacial scrapers, a small, broken, side-notched point, and a few unstemmed bifaces and biface fragments. In all, this surface-collected assemblage consists of over 450 pieces. Faunal materials were also recovered, including beaver, deer, and bear. The tool forms include very small thumbnail scrapers, and small thin bifacial tools and side-notched points. Taken together, these attributes support the LMW affiliation for the site. Although the analysis of BgDs-35 is ongoing, some preliminary inferences can be made. The density of lithic artifacts in both excavation units and from the eroding portions of the site is significantly higher than is typical of coastal sites regardless of age or type. No pottery has yet been recovered. Figure 2. BgDs-25, showing landscape features and excavation un its. Journal of the North Atlantic S. Blair, M. Horne, A.K. Patton, and W.J. Webb 2017 Special Volume 10 63 Although the work at BgDs-35 has been limited, there have yet to be any architectural or domestic features recorded, although the presence of firecracked rock and charcoal suggests a hearth area remains unexcavated. The 2015 Birch Cove Archaeology Project As indicated above, BgDs-25 was first tested in 2004, and the site was not revisited until 2015, when the University of New Brunswick, under the co-direction of S. Blair and M. Horne, collaborated with a small team from the University of Toronto, under the direction of A.K. Patton. The site was selected based on the promising results of the 2004 testing, which seemed to indicate that the site might contain living floors or dwelling features (Dickinson et al. 2005, Hrynick et al. 2012). Although the 2004 testing did not produce chronological information, it was anticipated, based on the number of later Maritime Woodland sites in the Birch Cove area and the structure of the deposit observed in the test unit, that BgDs-25 would contain deposits dating to the enigmatic later LMW period (between A.D. 1000 to A.D. 1400; Black 2002). Further, the fact that the site is on an exposed arm of Birch Cove, facing into Passamaquoddy Bay, and is actively eroding, added to the need to recover information from it. Methodology During the 2015 field season, 2 areas were opened, one immediately behind a raised bedrock area, where softshell clam mixed with dark brown soil was observed spilling out from the erosional face, some 50 m west of the marsh margin (Locus 1), and one closer to (within 20 m and west of) the marshy area (Locus 2; see Fig. 2). A third locus, containing an historic (and possibly recent) hearth area was also tested (Locus 3). The 2015 excavations involved manual excavation in natural layers, with material screened through 3.2-mm mesh. All excavations continued to bedrock. The team also recovered eight 20-cm column samples, as well as 1-L bulk samples from layers within each 50-cm quadrant of each unit. The analysis of these bulk samples is ongoing, and will undoubtedly, given the large numbers of very small bird and fish bones and the presence of microflakes, influence the final determination of specimen numbers. In all, two 1 m x 1 m units were excavated in Locus 1, five 1 m x 1 m units were excavated in Locus 2, and a single 50 cm x 50 cm unit was opened in Locus 3. Both Locus 1 and 2 had visible surface deposits of shell, but these were non-contiguous (i.e., there was no shell visible on the surface of the site between the 2 loci). Other patches of shell to the north of these areas likely contained further thin deposits but were also non-contiguous. The 2 units in Locus 1 produced a comparatively thick layer of large whole valves of softshell clam mixed with crushed shells of both softshell clam and, less commonly, Mytelis edulis (blue mussel) in a brown sandy loam. These shell deposits began immediately under the forest litter on the surface of the ground, and occurred fairly densely in a layer 20–30 cm thick. The layer also contained a comparatively high number of northern whelks, and a few very small fish vertebrae, but no other faunal materials or artifacts, aside from a single piece of quartz shatter. The analysis of bulk samples from this locus is ongoing, and these may reveal a greater focus on very small fish or microdebitage. Although there were rare fragments of charcoal, no features were discovered in these units. This material suggests a highly specialized, limited activity area, focused on softshell clam and whelk. The Locus 2 units were opened immediately adjacent to the placement of the 2004 test excavation. Like Locus 1 and the 2004 test unit, Locus 2 produced shell immediately under the surface that continued in a layer ranging from 2–3 cm to 30 cm thick. Like those in Locus 1, this shell layer was dominated by softshell clam, but these were more highly fragmented and mixed with a greasy black soil and gravel. Unlike Locus 1, Locus 2 was more structurally differentiated, with rock arrangements, midden deposits, and areas that are comparatively shell-free, as described below. Further, Locus 2 also produced a significant assemblage of lithic artifacts. Finally, an area 30 m to the north of Locus 2, designated Locus 3, contained a number of linear rock arrangements and a single brick-lined hearth containing a single charred tin can. The entire site area contains recent washed-in beach debris (such as fragments of rope, plastic bottles, and plastic-bag fragments), and it is difficult to determine if the nine square-cut nails and the fragment of earthenware in Locus 2 are later intrusions, blown in as flotsam, or if they represent early European contact. Locus 3, however, based on the nature of the brick and tin can, appears to date to fairly late in the historic period, and may be quite recent. Locus 2 was the only part of the site excavated in 2015 that produced a sizeable artifact assemblage, and it will be the focus of the remainder of this paper. Results of the 2015 Field Season The units in Locus 2 were arranged in a crossshaped pattern, maximizing the area that could be Journal of the North Atlantic S. Blair, M. Horne, A.K. Patton, and W.J. Webb 2017 Special Volume 10 64 architectural patterning. The most highly patterned unit was the northernmost; this unit contained trace amounts of shell, but notably, the soil in the northeastern quadrant of the unit was greasy, black, and contained burnt shell and scattered charcoal, while the southeast quadrant contained a gravel-free area of shell and dark soil. Although no formal hearth area could be identified, the patterns evident in this unit suggest that such a feature was likely in one of the immediately adjacent, unexcavated areas. A long (~40 cm) roughly cylindrical rock was set on end near the center of this unit such that one tip of it projected above the surface, while the base of it rested on bedrock; this position was notably different from other angular fragments, suggesting that it may have been emplaced (Fig. 4). Although the tip of the rock was exposed above the surface of the ground and weathering made it impossible to determine if any wear or markings had existed on it, the correlation of this rock with abundant lithic debris suggests it may have been related to knapping, perhaps as some kind of anvil stone. As indicated in Figure 5, this area produced the largest volume of lithics, including a roughly finished, thick, oval biface, two wellthinned biface tip fragments (Fig. 6), and a number flakes with battered or worn edges suggestive of use (Fig. 7). An additional thick, oval utilized flake was recovered from the northwest quadrant of the westernmost unit. Interestingly, the assemblage did not contain any endscrapers or side scrapers, which many consider to be a ubiquitous Woodland period tool class (Davis 1978, Sanger 1987). The assemblage is overwhelmingly dominated by a medium-grained, dark reddish-brown porphyritic volcanic material. Quartz and fine-grained bleached materials (either fine-grained volcanics or cherts) form minority materials (less than 5%). Although this material cannot be associated with the bedrock at or near the site, it is similar to rocks of volcanic origin that outcrop in the Quoddy Region. opened while retaining extensive profiles (Figs. 2, 3). Deposits in Locus 2, like those in Locus 1, were dominated by softshell clam mixed with occasional mussel fragments, as well as a large number of large, typically whole northern whelks. The composition of the shellfish assemblage is similar to that in other LMW assemblages in Birch Cove (as outlined above), but different from that typical of sites dating to the Middle Maritime Woodland and the earlier part of the LMW, where species such as green urchin (Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis), blue mussel, horse mussel (Modiolus modiolus), and various whelks and winkles represent significant minority components (Black 2002, 2004). However, the northern whelks recovered from both Locus 1 and 2 are notable for their high numbers; these occurred in the hundreds and were represented by a number of size classes. The excavation areas revealed considerable patterning in these deposits (see Fig. 4); the southernmost and easternmost units produced deposits of shellfish remains (Mya sp. and Buccinum sp.) ranging from 2 to 30 cm thick, with thin deposits of shell being mixed with gravel in the westernmost and northernmost units, and shell deposits becoming both denser and thicker towards the southeast. On the other hand, thick deposits of shell were inversely correlated with artifacts, with the southern and eastern units producing comparatively few lithic artifacts, and the central and (in particular) the northern unit producing more (see Fig. 5). The bedrock underlying the site was angular and fragmented, and slabs of rock and shattered rubble were integrated into the matrix in all units; however, these angular rock slabs, which ranged in size between 10 and 30 cm in length occurred in large numbers in the north half of the central unit, and the northern unit (Fig. 4). Some of these slabs might be arranged as a part of a living surface, but the ubiquity of rock in the site area complicated our ability to identify any Figure 3. North profile of the central units of locus 2, BgDs-25 . Journal of the North Atlantic S. Blair, M. Horne, A.K. Patton, and W.J. Webb 2017 Special Volume 10 65 that the site is either protohistoric or early historic (as discussed below) requires us to consider that these may be artifacts that are contemporary with the other artifacts and materials reported above from Locus 2. The nails are highly corroded, and the nail heads have not survived in a state that they can be examined; as a result, we cannot say more than that they date to post-European contact and prior to the 20th century. The buff-colored ceramic sherd is also European or Euro-American in origin; it consists of an unglazed, exterior surface on a fragment less than 10 mm in maximum dimension. The body has large white inclusions, and it may be that this is a ware typical of colonial French sites (Fig. 8). This ware is Grit- or shell-tempered, low-fired pottery was also absent from the site. In addition to shell, the site also produced several large fish vertebrae, hundreds of tiny fish vertebrae (comparable in size to those from the assemblage from BgDs-15), and a number of avian long bones and phalanges. Many of the tiny fish bones and bird phalanges were concentrated in the northern half of the northernmost unit. Given the shallowness of the deposits at BgDs- 25, and the visible evidence of recent debris being blown onto the site surface, we assumed that the historic artifacts encountered in Locus 2 (nine square-cut nails and one fragment of buff-colored earthenware) were intrusive. However, the inference Figure 4. Distribution of rocks and layers in Locus 2, BgDs-25. Journal of the North Atlantic S. Blair, M. Horne, A.K. Patton, and W.J. Webb 2017 Special Volume 10 66 present in the assemblage from the nearby Saint Croix Island (located in Saint Croix river, north of St. Andrews; Fig. 1), which was occupied in 1604–1605 by an expedition led by Pierre Dugua, Sieur de Mons (Mock 2006). These wares consisted of 2 types: one an unglazed variant with a buffcolored body, and one with a green glaze and a yellowish paste (Mock 2006:36); the fragmentary sherd from BgDs-25 may be similar to the first variant. A single fragment of cut terrestrial mammal (ungulate) bone was recovered. This was subsequently submitted for a radiometric assay, and returned a date of 270 ± 30 B.P. (Beta-422062). The 2σ calibration places it sometime during cal A.D. 1520—1575 or cal A.D. 1630–1665 or cal A.D. 1785—1795. Similar to other terrestrial mammal bone dates from the Quoddy Region, the sample was depleted for δC13 (-24.3‰), which may reflect heating of the bone. This result suggests a protohis- Figure 5. Piece count of Lithic artifacts (tools and debris) by unit and toric or historic age for the assemblage. quadrant, Locus 2, BgDs-25. Figure 6. Oval biface and biface tip fragments from the norther nmost region of Locus 2, BgDs-25. Journal of the North Atlantic S. Blair, M. Horne, A.K. Patton, and W.J. Webb 2017 Special Volume 10 67 overwhelmingly local nature of the lithic materials, and the composition of the shellfish assemblage. Given these factors, we suggest that the radiometric assay correctly indicates the age of the site, and based on the lack of artifacts that would be typical of later-17th- or 18th-century sites, we place it in the century immediately before direct contact in the form of early 17th-century French exploration and settlement. Discussion and Conclusion The latest part of the LMW, including the protohistoric and early contact periods, has long been enigmatic; in comparison to the thick, highly visible shell-bearing sites of the middle part of the Maritime Woodland, the shallow, often ephemeral components that appear to be typical of the LMW are poor in material culture, difficult to date, and difficult to compare with both earlier and later components, and with other sites on the landscape. Moreover, the first written accounts of European contact with indigenous peoples in the Northeast are often fragmentary and lacking in detailed descriptions (Trigger 1985:111, 121). These sources show that by the 1520s, Portuguese were fishing off the coast of Nova Scotia and central Maine, although the extent and nature of trade between Europeans and indigenous groups differed from place to place (Brasser 1978, Trigger 1985:128). European ships were likely infrequent visitors in Nova Scotia waters in the early 16th century, but nonetheless, Cartier encountered indigenous peoples eager and well accustomed to trading furs for European goods, while foreigners were less well received in Maine (Trigger 1985:127–130). Both responses suggest that there may have been even earlier encounters with Europeans, but in central Maine, there were few interactions between local groups and foreign fishers and whalers during the remainder of the 16th century (Bourque 2001:114–115, Trigger 1985:127–130). Mi’kmaq living in Nova Scotia and eastern New Brunswick at this time, however, became regional middlemen and largely controlled trade between Europeans and indigenous groups living in the Gulf of Maine (Bourque and Whitehead 1985, Petersen et al. 2004:59). In fact, archaeological research in the area reveals that indigenous peoples throughout the Maine–Maritimes region, including Passamaquoddies, had incorporated European goods such as copper kettles, glass beads, and iron axes into social, economic and ideological spheres of their In some ways, this age may be consistent with the assemblage. Although the site is structurally similar to single-component LMW sites in both Birch Cove and the Quoddy Region (see Black 2004, Dickinson et al. 2005, Hrynick et al. 2015, Jarratt 2015, Sanger 1987), it is also different from earlier LMW sites in the absence of pottery or scrapers at BgDs-25, the Figure 8. Unglazed, buff-colored colonial ceramic sherd from Locus 2, BgDs-25. Figure 7. Example of flake with battered or worn edges indicative of use from the northernmost region of Locus 2, BgDs-25. Journal of the North Atlantic S. Blair, M. Horne, A.K. Patton, and W.J. Webb 2017 Special Volume 10 68 like BgDs-35 and BgDs-15) to a more exposed location on the outer arms of the Cove (like BgDs-25) may, like the settlement at Devil’s Head, reflect a desire to observe and monitor conditions in the larger bay. Given that this was a century when new visitors were beginning to appear in coastal areas around the Quoddy Region, this position may also reflect a desire to monitor boat traffic. All of these subtle patterns warrant consideration as we finally turn our archaeological gaze to the transformation of Passamaquoddy lifeways in the critical decades around contact. Acknowledgements We thank the Schoodic Band of Passamaquoddy, Chief Hugh Akagi, and the Nature Trust of New Brunswick for granting us permission to excavate BgDs-25. Funding and support for this project was generously provided by the Archaeology Centre at the University of Toronto, the University of New Brunswick, and Sheila Washburn. We are grateful to the anonymous reviewers who provided insightful comments on this paper. We greatly appreciate our 2015 field crew—Ellie Tamura, Lisa Small, Chiara Williamson, and Matthew Reijerkerk—and also Lloyd Waugh (Department of Civil Engineering, UNB) for recording the site through high resolution photography. Literature Cited Black, D.W. 1993. What Images Return: A Study of the Stratigraphy and Seasonality of a Shell Midden in the Insular Quoddy Region, New Brunswick. New Brunswick Archaeology 27, The Partridge Island Archaeology Project, Volume 1. Municipalities, Culture, and Housing, Fredericton, NB, Canada. 132 pp. Black, D.W. 2002 Out of the blue and Into the black: The Middle-Late Maritime Woodland Transition in the Quoddy Region, New Brunswick, Canada. Pp. 109–122, In J.P. Hart and C.B. Rieth (Eds.). Northeast Subsistence-Settlement Change A.D. 700–1300. New York State Museum Bulletin 496, Albany, NY, USA. 359 pp. Black, D.W. 2004. Living Close to the Ledge: Prehistoric Human Ecology of the Bliss Islands, Quoddy Region, New Brunswick, Canada. 2nd Edition. Occasional Publications in Northeastern Archaeology No. 6, Copetown Press, St. John’s, NL, Canada. Blair, C.R., and D.W. Black. 1993. The Northeast Point site: A single-component occupation without middens on the Bliss Islands. Paper presented at the 24th annual meeting of the Canadian Archaeological Association, St. John’s, NL, Canada. Manuscript on file at University of New Brunswick, Department of Anthropology, Fredricton, NB, Canada. Blair, S., P. Dickinson, D. Black, and B. Broster. 2004. The geoarchaeology of a coastal fish trap in southern New Brunswick. Poster presented at the Eastern States Archaeology Federation conference, Midland, ON, Canada. lives by the mid-to-late 16th-century (Cox 2000, Fitzgerald et al. 1993, Petersen et al. 2004). Much of the literature on the protohistoric period has pointed to disjunctures in lifeways and material culture that occurred around the time of contact (Bourque and Whitehead 1985, Prins 1992, Whitehead 1993). Our analysis suggests that these real disjunctures, wrought by war and disease, were woven together with complex continuities in landscape use and settlement. The material discussed above allows us to draw several inferences and make a number of speculations about BgDs-25 and protohistoric settlement in Birch Cove. First, the assemblage described above represents a strong case for continuity into the protohistoric era, with elements of LMW technology and economy persisting to up to decades around contact, a pattern noted by archaeologists working on contact-period sites in adjacent regions in Maine (Cox 2000, Hrynick et al. 2015, Petersen et al. 2004). For example, Hrynick et al. (2015) report on the Devil’s Head Site (97.10), a small, multicomponent site on the Maine side of the Quoddy Region. This site produced a radiometric date that overlaps with the one produced at BgDs-25 (390 ± 50 B.P., AA-10697), with a cal A.D. 2σ range of 1432 to 1635. Further, Hrynick et al. (2015:60) comment on the “relative dearth of scrapers and the abundance of bifaces” in particular components of the Devil’s Head assemblage, which looks very much like the lithic assemblage at BgDs-25 and other LMW sites. Like BgDs-25, Devil’s Head exhibited a high degree of intrasite patterning, including large rock arrangements that are interpreted as being parts of dwelling features. These sites then, exhibit common elements and strong continuity across the pre-contact/contact period. There can be no doubt that ancestral Passamaquoddy people lived at Birch Cove and continued lifeways that extended back into the deeper reaches of prehistory. Second, as new information emerges, it is clear that protohistoric settlement and subsistence requires close examination. BgDs-25 and other sites in Birch Cove appear to be part of a shift from large, multicomponent Middle and early LMW sites in key, repeatedly occupied locations towards shallow, more ephemeral sites in new locations. While bifaces continued to be a focus of lithic production, it appears the standardized and formally styled endscrapers that were so typical of earlier periods were being replaced by more expediently produced utilized-flake technologies. While subsistence continued to be underpinned by softshell clam exploitation, fishing, and bird hunting, whelks appear to have been important secondary resources. Finally, the shift from settlement within Birch Cove (at sites Journal of the North Atlantic S. Blair, M. Horne, A.K. Patton, and W.J. Webb 2017 Special Volume 10 69 Bourque, B.J. 2001. Twelve Thousand Years: American Indians in Maine. 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