December 23, 2017

MAINE’S VIKING PENNY: The archeological debate continues. And an interesting one it is. The Norse coin was allegedly discovered in 1957 at the Goddard Site (near Brooklin, Maine).

The article says that new analytic evidence supports those who argue the coin was found at the site.

Here’s how the article describes the Goddard Site:

While no other Norse artifact has ever been found there, the site did hold surprises—artifacts attesting to an explosion of trade contact between Native American groups, stretching from the eastern Great Lakes up to Labrador. At the same time the coin shows up, for instance, archery first appears in the region.

“The site has an unspeakably dense concentration of archers,” says Bourque. Excavations have turned up thousands of arrowheads, along with mounds of pottery sherds and stones that come from hundreds of miles away. “It’s off the charts,” he says. “The real mystery is—what the hell is going on at the site at the time?”

To Bourque, the coin is a clue in this other mystery. All sorts of objects that seem out of place in 12th-century Maine show up in this one spot, as if it were site of a pre-Columbian World’s Fair for northeastern coastal America, from Lake Erie to Newfoundland. Unlike the sagas—all story, little evidence—this site is full of interesting evidence in search of a story.

A trade fair. OK. But it’s Maine, so it could have been a pre-Colombian L.L. Bean.

DISTANTLY RELATED: The Gault Site near Florence, Texas was a source of high-quality flint. I heard a lecture a few years ago where the archeologist said he suspected the Gault Site was part of a trade network.

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