From the State Archaeologist

When you hear "underwater archaeology," most people think of shipwrecks, but there are older things to look for, buried in the sea bottom: archaeological sites associated with ancient Native Americans. When the ancient Native American people first came to Massachusetts about 10,000–12,000 years ago, there was a broad coastal plain to explore and inhabit. This post-ice age coastal plain was exposed by the retreating glaciers. Through time, the more that the glaciers melted, the coastal plain became submerged under the sea, inundating the Native America archaeological sites. Today, underwater archaeologists are making a concerted effort to discover those sites. Recently, evidence of an ancient boreal forest has been found by archaeologists in soil cores in Nantucket Sound. A wooden dugout canoe (called a "mishoon" in Algonquin language) has been found on a lake bottom in Worcester County. Fishermen and scallop trawlers have occasionally found fossils of extinct big game such as mastodons, as well as Native American stone tools. Sometimes today people may find isolated artifacts on beaches or at low tide. If you think you've found an artifact, please feel free to contact the archaeologists at the Massachusetts Historical Commission MHC) for their identification at 617-727-8470 or by email at . With the continued threat of sea level rise, the MHC is eager to identify archaeological sites on the coast that might warrant protection and preservation.

If you are interested in learning about historic shipwrecks, be sure to check out this interesting article.

Sail away on your voyages into the past by attending one or more of the Archaeology Month events. This year's Archaeology Month activities offer many unique, interesting, and fun ways for you to explore the past. Whether you're interested in Ancient Native American, Colonial, Early American, or Industrial periods, or going behind-the-scenes at archaeology and faunal (zooarchaeology) labs, attending site visits, gallery talks, illustrated lectures, walking and biking tours, exploring exhibits, participating in hands-on events, or learning about archaeology in other parts of the world, there's an event for you or your family.

Brona Simon
State Archaeologist

Many thanks to:

Thomas M. Blazej, Director of Graphic Communications, Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth
Jeff Surette, Graphic Communications, Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth
Corolette Goodwin, Director, Central Services, Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth
Alexandra Crowder, Archaeology Month Coordinator, Massachusetts Historical Commission