Maritime Archaic Culture: The Red Paint People Of Newfoundland

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An artistic depiction of the Maritime Archaic culture, at the Port au Choix Archaeological Site. The Maritime Archaic peoples were the first to settle Newfoundland. (David W Enstrom / CC BY-SA 4.0)

Maritime Archaic Culture: The Red Paint People Of Newfoundland

About 5,000 years ago, when the Phoenicians dominated the Mediterranean trade routes and were, perhaps, beginning to venture out into the Atlantic as far west as North America, and when a mysterious civilization was building house foundations in the Canadian Arctic and another was constructing shell circles along the coastline of South Carolina and Florida, another mysterious sea-faring people were thriving up north in Maine and Canada.

Part of Abraham Ortelius' atlas from 1570, showing "Norvmbega" among other somewhat mythical names for various areas as well as several phantom islands. (Public Domain)

Part of Abraham Ortelius' atlas from 1570, showing "Norvmbega" among other somewhat mythical names for various areas as well as several phantom islands. (Public Domain)

Since the 16th century, Native American Indians, or First Peoples had been regaling European settlers with legends of a city that was once located at the mouth of the Penobscot river. They called it Norumbega, and said it "overflowed with riches." No one alive had ever seen it, but many looked for it. Their search led them to hundreds of stone structures, similar to those that Europeans were familiar with in Scotland, Ireland, Norway, and Sweden. When they asked the First Peoples Indians who built them, they were told "the ancient ones."


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