12,000-year-old Marysville artifacts give Indigenous people glimpse of the past

An archaeological site just off the Marysville bypass on Fredericton’s north side has dug up a wealth information about the area and its not-so-recent inhabitants.

The site, which people called home approximately 12,000 years ago, was discovered by an archaeologist just over two years ago. The Department of Transportation and Infrastructure has since set the area aside from development.

Over the past three weeks, recently graduated field technicians —; under the guidance of provincial archaeologist Brent Suttie —; have been carefully scraping away at the ground, discovering parts of ancient tools, spears and rocks as they dig.

ChangSha Night Net

What they’ve uncovered is drastically different from the roadway and trees that presently inhabit the area, which Suttie says has lead them to determine it was once a beach near a large body of water.

“There’s actually two concentrations at either end of the site,” he said. “This is actually on a beach overlooking what used to be a glacial lake and so this lake was basically like Grand Lake but much much larger.”

“The entire town of Fredericton was underwater at the time and this was the shoreline of that lake,” says Suttie.

Glimpse of the unknown

The discoveries made so far give archaeologists a much closer look into a time frame that Suttie says not much is known about.

“From other areas in the province, we know that by about 13,000 years ago people are living here,” he said. “We have a few sites down in the Penfield area and then we have very famous sites like Debert in Nova Scotia that date to 11,600 years old. We don’t have anything in between those sites.”

“This really gets to the origins of what’s now New Brunswick,” says Suttie. “I mean these are some of the first people, first evidence we have of people being in what is now New Brunswick.”

Field technicians Tyson Wood and Shawna Goodall are Indigenous people working on-site. For both of them, being a part of the dig has been surreal.

“To know that they were having a fire in this exact position and my ancestors could be all sitting around this beach shore, having a fire, fishing, camping,” Wood said. “Just to unearth that.”

“Just to hold an artifact in your hand that you know that you’re the first person to hold that in 13,000 years … you get the goosebumps every single time,” Goodall said

For the newly graduated technicians, this is their first dig, and it’s one they say will be difficult to top.

“With the Maliseet people it’s all about oral tradition and talking and telling stories,” Wood explained. “Now that I’m going to be able to bring my own stories back to my community and tell them, that’s just a great feeling.”

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