Outside! 2015
Thwing’s Point Archaeological Dig

July 6th-17th: Monday-Friday,
8:00am-12:00pm and 12:30-4:30pm sessions
Thwing’s Point, Woolwich, ME

Contact: Ed Friedman, FOMB, 666-3372

In 1654 at the home and trading post of Thomas Ashley on what is now Thwings Pt. in Woolwich, a group of early settlers met and signed papers forming the first European style government in the Merrymeeting Bay region. From July 6-17th M-F volunteers are invited to join Friends of Merrymeeting Bay (FOMB) in a Phase 2 archaeological survey of this important historical site along the Kennebec River. This site has been described as possibly the most significant un-excavated historic archaeological site in Maine.

A Phase 1 survey is the initial archaeological exploration given a new site. The purpose is to quickly cover a large area in a methodical manner. Small test pits are dug, soil stratigraphy and any artifacts found are recorded and the pits are back-filled. This was done in 2007 by FOMB volunteers and Maine Historic Preservation Commission (MHPC) staff. Results from the Phase 1 survey indicated future and more complete excavations were desirable and so a subsequent 2009 Phase 2 survey focused on an area of artifact concentration unearthed previously. A 2011 dig continued homing in on the original building site and in 2014 one of the two foundations was mapped. This season efforts will be directed at the second cellar hole. Leading the dig is retired MHPC historical archaeologist Lee Cranmer assisted by seasonal MHPC staffer Kathy Bridge.

Friends of Merrymeeting Bay invites volunteers to assist with the project. Volunteers are required to pre-register with minimum time commitments of a 1/2 day, though multi-day assistance is encouraged, space permitting. A $20.00 minimum donation to FOMB is suggested to help defray costs of the $7,000 project. Donations of at least $50.00 from non-FOMB members will include a 1-year membership in the organization. Any artifacts recovered remain the property of the landowner.

Volunteers will have the opportunity to work closely with and learn from trained archaeologists while making an important contribution to our knowledge of Maine history. There will be a maximum of six volunteer slots available per ½ day session. Donations, at far less than a similar field school might cost, help support the continued work of FOMB in areas like this one. The morning time slot is 8:00-12 and the afternoon slot 12:30-4:30 with a lunch break at noon. Contact Dig Coordinator Tom Walling 666-5837 or pdqtr6@comcast.net to register.

FOMB works to protect the Bay and areas around it through research, advocacy, education, and land conservation. The focus of this year’s dig is on property protected by purchase and conservation easement. It was part of a larger parcel now owned by the State of Maine and managed by the Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife. The entire property was protected through efforts led by FOMB in partnership with the Nature Conservancy and Maine Wetlands Protection Coalition and acquired with funds from a previous Land for Maine’s Future Bond.

The next regularly scheduled FOMB Outside Series outing will be the Little Swan Island Evening Paddle led by Warren Whitney, July 9, 5:30pm-7:30pm. Pre-register with Warren at 666-3376. The full FOMB Outside Series outing schedule is available at www.friendsofmerrymeetingbay.org

Watercolors by
Sarah Stapler