Technology in a time of transition: understanding protohistoric stone tool technology in the Quoddy Region, New Brunswick
University of New Brunswick
Protohistoric sites are rare in the Quoddy Region but critical for understanding the impact of early European contact on Indigenous people. BgDs25 is an ancestral Passamaquoddy shell-bearing site in Birch Cove, New Brunswick, dating to the Protohistoric Period (ca. 600 to 400 years ago). While much research has focused on this period as one of rapid cultural change, BgDs25 contains abundant evidence of stone tool reduction in patterns that are broadly similar to those evident on archaeological sites in the Quoddy region that date to the previous 2500 years (the Maritime Woodland period). Continuity in technology and material culture are echoed in other aspects of the site, including dimensions of settlement patterning and subsistence. Despite these broad patterns of similarity, there are some key differences that may hint at the changes to come. For example, earlier patterns of the raw material used for making stone tools, in particular brightly-coloured cherts, has focused on the interpretation of acquisition channels (Black 2002). This is not evident in BgDs-25 and instead the assemblage is dominated by local porphyritic volcanic materials of lower quality. Further, a key focus of stone-tool manufacturing activities at the site is an upright anvil stone. While such stones had previously been used for spirally fracturing bone for marrow extraction, this is the first case in the region of integration into lithic reduction. Anvil-chipping or block-on-block technique may have been used in conjunction with the standing anvil stone to work the local porphyritic volcanic material. The analysis of these patterns of similarity and difference in stone tool production afford new insights into an as-yet poorly understood period in the Quoddy region.