PALEOENVIRONMENTAL RECONSTRUCTION OF THE TURNER FARM ARCHEOLOGICAL SITE, MAINE, BASED ON PALYNOLOGICAL REMAINS
Radiocarbon dating of the oldest peat sample yielded a basal age of 4310 ± 140 years. Additional samples have been submitted for dating to provide higher resolution; ages will in turn be utilized to correlate deviations in the vegetational record and historically significant dates in human history. This research was initiated in pursuit of better understanding how people—Paleo-Indians and Europeans alike—impacted the environment through alteration of regional vegetation and marine wildlife. This investigation seeks to determine at what points in North Haven’s history the vegetation was altered merely by normal geologic and biologic processes and at what point changes, such as clear-cutting and the introduction of new agricultural crops, came at the hand of humans.
Palynomorphs recovered from the core reveal a spectrum of paleoenvironments. Basal samples evince a more restricted vegetational environment. Dominated by monolete and trilete fern spores as well as Poaceae and Cyperaceae pollen, these palynomorphs are indicative of an open, wetlands environment. In contrast, younger sediments at the top of the core yielded a more diverse assemblage of pollen grains comprised of Picea, Betula, Alnus and Quercus. The increasingly frequent emergence of such grains in the pollen record denotes the reintroduction of tree growth contiguous to the wetland region of the salt marsh. The presence of charcoal supports a hypothesis of clear-cutting for agricultural purposes.