AUGUSTA — Maine State Museum Chief Archaeologist Bruce Bourque will be spotlighted in a book launch and signing from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20 at the museum.

“The Swordfish Hunters: The History and Ecology of an Ancient American Sea People” will be available for purchase at the Maine State Museum store. Museum admission is free of charge all day.

“The Swordfish Hunters” explores the story of the Red Paint People and the archaeologists who have tried to understand them over the past century, as stated in a news release.

“I have been intrigued by the Red Paint People and their unusual culture throughout my career,” explains Bourque. “They lived by the sea and hunted swordfish. They buried their dead in large, orderly cemeteries that included graves filled with a brilliant red powder, known as ocher, along with stone tools and bone ornaments of exquisite beauty and craftsmanship. After about 500 years, these people mysteriously vanished.

“Interwoven with the story of the Red Paint People is one of scientific growth and evolution,” continues Bourque. “Archaeologists have adopted new research models in collaboration with a broad range of natural sciences to flesh out the story of a remarkable prehistoric culture, centered exclusively in Maine.”

Bourque is chief archaeologist at the Maine State Museum and teaches anthropology at Bates College in Lewiston. He grew up in Massachusetts, but spent boyhood summers in Maine, where he heard stories of the Red Paint People. He lives in Freeport.

For more information, see the museum’s website www.mainestatemuseum.org.

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