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General The “Red Paint People” of New England and the Atlantic Canadian coastal regions of North America were a pre-Columbian indigenous culture named for the large quantities of red ocher they typically buried with their dead.An otherwise unknown seafaring group, they began fishing and hunting along the coasts of North America at least 7,000 to 9,000 years ago.The so-called “Red Paint People” of New England and the Atlantic Canada regions of North America were a pre-Columbian indigenous culture named for the large quantities of red ochre they typically used in their mortuary practices.Sometimes referred to as the Moorehead Burial Tradition after archaeologist Warren K.Moorehead who brought this mysterious culture to the attention of the scientific community, the Red Paint People hit their peak of cultural development between 3000 BCE and 1000 BCE--but have a history spanning thousands of years prior to this time.An otherwise unknown seafaring group that began fishing and hunting along the coasts and rivers of North America at least 7,000 to 9,000 years ago, these ancient Americans came to rival their European counterparts in sophisticated stone and bone tool-making and navigational skills, several millennia before the Vikings.With some of their coastal sites showing evidence of year-round occupation, their diets included sea fish, anadromous fish, shellfish, meat, berries, acorns, nuts and roots, with regular hunting (probably by spearing) of swordfish obtained from the Gulf of Maine.

(Red ochre, or iron oxide, is known to have been used for purposes both spiritual and practical--as an honorific in burials and sites, and as protection from the sun and insects.) While the gravesites of the Red Paint People had been known as early as the 1840s, the first scientific examination didn’t occur until 1892 when a Harvard professor made the first archaeological assessment, assisted by a man named Charles Willoughby.Willoughby subsequently exhibited a scale model of the dig site at the Chicago Columbian Exposition in 1893, which caught the attention of Warren Moorehead, who decided to further excavate.Moorehead subsequently found beautifully crafted stone artifacts (gouges or woodworking tools), fishing plummets, flaked stone knives and spearheads of ground slate.Publishing his finds from 1912 to the 1920s in several prominent American archeological journals, Moorehead concluded that the Red Paint People were much older than other known groups of the area, and were in fact a totally different culture from that of the later Algonquin tribes---whom many had considered the progenitors of regional culture.His proposal of a “new” ancient culture was, however, consistently challenged, sparking a controversy based on his assessed of the red ocher deposits.

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