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"RED PAINT" CULTURE

Examination of the “Red Paint,” or Maritime Archaic, cultures in Maine show that a seafaring culture flourished there between 4,000 years ago and 7,500 years ago. Remains of swordfish and other deep sea fish, plummets, gouges, slate lance points and toggling harpoons confirm that these were seafarers of considerable skill. Images of whales, and other marine species, as well as stylised bird heads appeared on decorated objects, such as combs and pendants, and funeral sites revealed the use of red ochre at burial sites. The cemeteries were inevitably placed on high hills overlooking the sea.

James Tuck and Robert Mcgee of St.John’s Memorial University uncovered a rectangular stone chamber of upright stones on the coast of Labrador that closely resembled similar stones found on the island of Teviec just off the coast of France. Both were burial sites where the dead were covered with red ochre, and dating of charcoal pieces from ceremonial burnings at these sites have been carbon dated as being 7,500 years old. The graves, like pyramids built in Mesoamerica, were oriented to reflect light at the time of the rising sun on one day only, at the time of the summer solstice. And instead of a red ochre burial we find at these sites an urn containing cremated ashes, obviously a special treatment for a unusual person, a shaman or tribal chief.

The use of ground slate, a material inferior only to metal, in harpoons and bayonets in both northern Scandinavia and the northern shores of the Americas may not by itself reveal a shared maritime culture 7,500 years ago. But the use of red ochre, the similarity of designs and engravings, the use of bamboo in tools, and a similar use of oil lamps, all point to a shared culture across the North Atlantic.

From Atlantis in America – Navigators of the Ancient World by Ivar Zapp and George Ericson

 

New World/Old World Links Display Prints and Key Texts


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