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The Swordfish Hunters: The History and Ecology of an Ancient American Sea People Hardcover – October 17, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-1593730383 ISBN-10: 1593730381 Edition: 1st
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The Swordfish Hunters: The History and Ecology of an Ancient American Sea People + Twelve Thousand Years: American Indians in Maine
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Editorial Reviews

Review

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

About the Author

BRUCE BOURQUE is Curator of Archaeology at the Maine State Museum, and teaches anthropology at Bates College in Lewiston, ME. 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, the University of Colorado, 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.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Bunker Hill Publishing Inc; 1 edition (October 17, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1593730381
  • ISBN-13: 978-1593730383
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.9 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,040,212 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Heading Out on November 12, 2012
Format: Hardcover
About 3,800 years ago the "Red Paint" peoples of Maine seem to have left their homes of the previous thousand years, and faded away. Building a picture of their lives, customs and how the tribe fitted within the overall evolution of Native American lives in the North-East was made more difficult for two significant reasons. The first is that the coastal region of the time, where many of their encampments were built, has now been submerged and subject to the stormy erosion of the North Atlantic, so that little of that evidence remains. Further the chemistry of the soils tends to dissolve bone remnants, so that there are few skeletal remains that have survived the millennia. There is thus very little evidence of either their lifestyle, or the causes of their departure from the scene. Fortunately some of the burials were made in the large shell middens found along the coast, where the shell chemistry prevented bone dissolution, and helped show that the lenses of red ocher that had been found along the rivers and coast of the state were often all that was left of early cemeteries.

Dr. Bourque builds a credible, and lucidly explained case for his analysis of their lives, based on excavations of these cemeteries. He ranges outside the simple archaeological descriptions of the grave contents into an integrated analysis that includes the likely habitat, and cultural significance of the swordfish, whose remnants are associated with the camps. Swordfish hunting is not normally a part of early Native American life, nor that any other culture of the time, and the likely reason for it is explored.
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By billbellco on February 16, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Swordfish Hunters, Great book, Good Author, I've enjoyed all of Bruce Bourques books!!!!They make me homesick for Maine's awesome historical and archaeological history!!!Bill Cote
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By Mezzonora on June 16, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Excellent write up on the subject. Very thorough and thoughtful book on the Swordfish hunters. Illustrations also good. Recommend to those interested in the subject.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Michael A. Pedersen on January 27, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I purchased this book expecting to learn of a unique ancient culture that once existed along the coast of Maine. I learned very little about these people. Instead, I felt as if I were reading Bourque's doctoral thesis and his defense of it. The bulk of the book seemed to be more concerned with analytical techniques, suppositions and premises than it did with the ancient peoples themselves. Perhaps my expectations were misplaced. After all, this was an apparently localized group along the mid-Maine coast that lived about 5,000 years ago. Nevertheless, if you are hoping to find out who these people were, what their culture was like and how they lived, you, as I, may end up disappointed.
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