Archaeology and the Carns site

Nauset Marsh

Ranger leading tour

This morning I went on a ranger led tour of the Carns Site, an archaeological site discovered at Nauset Beach in 1990. The artifacts recovered date back to a permanent native residence in the Early Woodland to Middle Woodland Periods about 2,100 to 1,100 years ago. These artifacts were mostly broken projectile points, pots, and shell midden, a.k.a. waste thrown away by ancestors of the Wampanoag. For more than a year, archaeologists excavated in 5 stages and removed thousands of artifacts that are now catalogued in the museum at the National Seashore.
artifacts from the Carns site
The area seemed to be abandoned around the time that the ocean broke through Nauset Beach, suggesting that the change from a fresh to salt water environment forced the natives to move elsewhere. Environmental changes such as erosion continue to afflict the Carns Site and other archaeological sites on the shores of the National Seashore. Many historic buildings have either fallen into the sea or been moved inland to escape the gradual loss of seashore to the unpredictable winds and waves of the Atlantic Ocean. For now though, the prehistory and history of the Cape is conserved through archaeology and tours, led by fantastic park rangers with knowledge to spare.
Coast Guard Beach
Flag at Nauset Beach
I am grateful that it is my job as a museum intern to explore these historic and prehistoric sites on the Cape and then be able to actually see and handle the physical objects from the sites. So far, the historical photographs are my favorite because they provide a wonderful glimpse into the past. It is so interesting to use these images to see how the people and places of the Cape have changed. Without the past, there would be no present.

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