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Prof. Emeritus Alaric Faulkner, 1945-2011

Ric FaulknerContact: Joe Carr

Note: an obituary appears in the Monday March 21 Bangor Daily News.  It is online here.

ORONO — Alaric Faulkner, a distinguished historical archaeologist who served 30 years on the University of Maine anthropology faculty, died on March 18 at the age of 66.  Faulkner, who retired in 2008 and was granted emeritus status in recognition of his scholarly achievements, had been ill for some time.

Born in Peterborough, N.H., Faulkner earned a bachelor’s degree from Harvard and a Ph.D. from Washington State University, both in anthropology. He joined the UMaine faculty in 1978, working for eight years as part of a joint appointment as historical archaeologist with the Maine Historic Preservation Commission. He earned tenure in 1987 and was promoted to the rank of professor in 1990.

“Ric is the consummate, well-rounded scholar, whose contributions to the academic endeavors of the University of Maine are greatly appreciated,” wrote his anthropology faculty colleague Prof. Kristin Sobolik in 2008.  Citing Faulkner’s “incalculable” impact on hundreds of students, along with his contributions to efforts that enhance understanding and appreciation of Maine’s heritage, Sobolik referred to Faulkner as a “historical archaeologist extraordinaire.”

Faulkner’s summer field schools provided archaeology students with invaluable experience in the fundamental and advanced techniques related to archaeological field work.  He taught both undergraduate and graduate courses to more than 100 students each year while supervising more than 35 graduate students, several of whom are now leaders in the field of historical archaeology.

His academic interests focuses on a series of vital and interrelated topics: the Anglo-Acadian frontier, European-Native American interaction at contact, 17th century Maine and the maritimes, and colonial archaeology.

The record of Maine’s history is permanently enhanced by Faulkner’s work in several areas, including excavations that have helped preserve vital archaeological sites such as those at Fort Pentagoet and San Castine’s Habitat, both in Castine.  Those sites are National Historic Landmarks, described by Sobolik as “icons of Franco-American settlement in the region.”

“History is always written by the so-called winners,” Faulkner said in a 2008 UMaine Today Magazine story about his work as it relates to Maine’s heritage. “But there need to be people who can provide some measure of constraint by putting the record straight. We very seldom hear about the Acadians, much less the native people who lived here with them.” That story is online here.

“The French at Pentagoet, 1635-1674: An Archaeological Portrait of the Acadian Frontier” Faulkner’s 1987 book, was listed in “The Mirror of Maine: One Hundred Distinguished Books that Reveal the History of the State and the Life of its People,” a publication of the Maine Historical Society.  He also worked with the Maine Historic Preservation Commission to create the first computerized database of Maine’s historic archaeological sites.  As a member of the Jamestown Rediscovery Advisory Board, Faulkner had tea with Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip at the 2008 400th Anniversary of Jamestown celebration.

A prolific scholar, Faulkner wrote four books and dozens of other scholarly publications.  Colleagues say his impact on his academic discipline cannot be quantified.

“Ric Faulkner was an ideal colleague, the kind one hopes to have in academia,” says Dan Sandweiss, a fellow archaeologist in UMaine’s anthropology department. “He started before I was even hired, giving me a book that became the core of my favorite course here. Ric was also the first of my UMaine colleagues to volunteer to join me in the field in Peru, where his insights from an historical archaeology perspective were invaluable. At the same time, Ric was a good friend from the day I arrived right up to the end.”

Faulkner is survived by his wife Gretchen Faulkner, the director of UMaine’s Hudson Museum, and his son James.

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