Honors College

Document Type

Honors Thesis


History, Anthropology


Bonnie Newsom, Sky Heller

Committee Members

Katherine Allen, Samantha Jones, Daniel Sandweiss

Graduation Year

May 2020

Publication Date

Spring 5-2020


This research examines archaeological fish remains from the Gulf of Maine as indicators of past climate change. Archaeological research has shown that between ca. 5,000 and 3,800 years ago, swordfish were present in coastal Maine waters indicating warmer ocean temperatures. To date, little research has explored the presence of other warm water fish species in the Gulf of Maine at that time. In this study, I examine archaeological samples from the Waterside Shell Midden (44-7) in Sorrento, Maine to identify Black Sea Bass (Centropristis striata) within the site’s faunal collection. My work complements Sky Heller’s doctoral research on the relationship between the presence of fish species in archaeological sites and past climate change in the Gulf of Maine. Heller’s research tests the hypothesis that the Gulf was a warm water ecosystem that cooled at approximately 3800 radiocarbon years B.P. Identification of Black Sea Bass in archaeological contexts in the Gulf of Maine provides additional evidence to support Heller’s hypothesis.

The research includes four stages: 1) Acquire a sample of Black Sea Bass, deflesh it, and prepare it for inclusion into the comparative collection of the Zooarchaeology Laboratory at the University of Maine; 2) compare the new specimen to samples from the Waterside site to determine if any of the remains match the defleshed fish; 3) draw conclusions based on the data and; 4) and report my findings. This study contributes to the paleoclimatic research at the University of Maine, and also expands knowledge of Maine’s zooarchaeological record.