Life and Landscape of the Maritime Archaic

October 4 - November 11, 2017 | Opening Reception: Thursday, October 5, 5-7p


These photographs are from Jonathan Levitt’s recent book project - Mawooshen: Life and Landscape of the Maritime Archaic.

Mawooshen documents the geography of the Red Paint People - Archaic humans of unknown origins that appeared among the islands and coastal mountains of Penobscot Bay five thousand years ago. They thrived for about twelve hundred years, and then suddenly disappeared. The Maritime Archaic refers to the wider North American archeological coastal and seafaring culture of the late Meso-Indian period along the coast of Newfoundland, the Canadian Maritimes and Maine.


The Red Paint People left behind evidence of a sophisticated material culture (fanciful ceremonial objects carved from stone, tools of bone and ivory, shell-beaded clothing), as well as a distinctive pattern of mortuary ceremonialism ( bodies marked with red ochre, some buried with daggers of bone and dressed in suits made from the skins of the now-extinct great auk). They built boats, traded over long distances, and hunted an extinct population of swordfish that lived close to shore year round.


The alter-world of Mawooshen is informed by Paleolithic animism, western natural history, and shadow archaeology. The geography of Penobscot Bay has not changed much since the Maritime Archaic, though the bounty of marine resources available to the swordfish hunters was likely much greater than what we have seen in recent times. Explorations into, and documentation of the uncanny both in the physical landscape of Penobscot Bay and relevant subjects of academic study have revealed some of what remains of the distant past - clues to unravel the mysteries of the Red Paint People.

Jonathan Levitt is a graduate of Hampshire College, the Dubrulle French Culinary Institute of Canada, and the Masters Program in Gastronomy at Boston University.

His first monograph, Mawooshen: Life and Landscape of the Maritime Archaic (220 pages | 8.375” x 10.75” | 124 plates | 300 edition | Hardcover Linen), was published by Snail Press in 2016.

He lives on an acreage near the village of Ducktrap, Maine.