A group of University of Maine at Presque Isle students traveled to Bates College in early April to attend the Geological Society of Maine 2017 Spring Meeting, and came back with an unexpected recognition. Dr. Chunzeng Wang, UMPI Professor of Geology, GIS, and Environmental Science, took four UMPI students–pictured from left to right are: Andrew Dolley, Caleb Ward, Daniel Swallow, and Dean Costello–to the annual spring meeting, where Ward and Swallow presented their poster, entitled “Utilizing Portable XRF Analyzer to Track Sources of Chert from Prehistoric Artifacts Recovered from the Sawyer Farm, Ashland, Maine”.
This comprehensive geoarchaeologic research project spanned several years and is based on work by Wang and UMPI colleague David Putnam. Ward and Swallow helped to analyze samples collected from the Sawyer Farm in Ashland against the Norway Bluff-Munsungan Lake and Round Mountain-Peaked Mountain areas (both areas are known sources of cherty rocks used to make lithic tools by Native Americans in the past) by comparing the elemental data. The results showed that the samples from Sawyer Farm were likely derived from the Round Mountain-Peaked Mountain area with some probably from the Norway Bluff-Munsungan Lake area, which contradicts the more commonly accepted theory that the latter region was the primary source of the majority of chert artifacts in northern Maine.
This discovery is considered a new, interesting finding. To the surprise of the UMPI delegation, Ward and Swallow’s poster was selected by a panel of judges to receive Best Poster Award at the GSM 2017 Spring Meeting. In addition to a wooden plaque that will be displayed at UMPI during the coming year, the winners received a cash award of $100 from the Walter Anderson fund.