Dr. Brian S. Robinson

Brian Robinson

Brian Robinson, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Climate Change, passed away October 27, 2016 at his home after a long illness. Brian was a highly valued member of the department, university, community, and state. His impact will be felt for many years to come.

A press release with more information has been issued by UMaine.

Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology and Climate Change Institute

Ph.D., Brown University, 2001

Professional Interests:

I am an archaeologist specializing in northern and coastal hunter-gatherers, the culture history of Northeastern North America, cultural and natural boundary conditions, mortuary ritual and Anthropological theory. There are strongly defined environmental regions and boundaries within the Gulf of Maine, with equally strong contrasts between cultural traditions. In other words, there are multiple ancient cultural traditions in the broad neighborhood that interacted in different ways at different times. Understanding different groups and boundaries is a multidisciplinary pursuit, integrating environment, subsistence, technology, settlement pattern, cultural landscape, ritual symbolism and historical sources. With high visibility archaeological patterns and environmental contrasts, the ancient traditions of the Northeast may serve as both the cultural heritage of modern Wabanaki people on the Maritime Peninsula of Maine and Canada, and important case studies of hunter-gatherer organization.

My dissertation was on groups and boundaries in the Gulf of Maine between 9000 to 4000 years ago, based on a reanalysis of the Moorehead burial tradition. The research involved archival sources, collections research, extensive interviews with excavators of little known sites, and a dissertation NSF grant dedicated to AMS radiocarbon dating. Concurrently, I worked with Dr. Frederick West on the analysis of Pleistocene and Early Holocene lithic assemblages from central Alaska. At present I have an NSF grant to document and evaluate the ring-shaped settlement pattern of the Bull Brook Paleoindian site in Ipswich, Massachusetts, which is composed of 40 activity areas or house sites. The project involves the original excavators of the site, the Peabody Essex Museum, and geologists, archaeologists and students from the University of Maine and other institutions. The site may represent one of the largest structured settlement plans in Pleistocene North America.

I have excavated in a wide variety of conditions including deeply stratified fluvial deposits, shell middens, and saturated freshwater and marine sites with organic preservation. Interests in material analysis include lithic and bone technology, faunal analysis (particularly fish) and organic preservation in wet sites.


Representative Publications:

In Press:

Robinson, Brian S. In press. Ritual and Archaeological Visibility in the Far Northeast of North America, for the Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of Ritual and Religion. Oxford University Press.

Robinson, Brian S. and Jennifer C. Ort. In press. Paleoindian and Archaic Period Traditions: Particular Explanations from New England, in Hunter-Gatherer Archaeology as Historical Process, edited by Kenneth E. Sassaman and Donald H. Holly, Jr. Amerind Studies in Archaeology, University of Arizona Press.

Robinson, Brian S. In press. Bull Brook and Debert: the Original Large Paleoindian Sites in Northeast North America. In Ta’n Wetapeksi’k: Understanding from Where We Come. Truro, Nova Scotia: Eastern Woodland Publishing.

2009 Robinson, Brian S., Jennifer C. Ort, William E. Eldridge, Adrian L. Burke and Bertrand G. Pelletier. Paleoindian Aggregation and Social Context at Bull Brook. American Antiquity 74(3): 423- 447.

2009 Robinson, Brian S., George L. Jacobson Jr., Martin Yates, Arthur. Spiess and Ellen. Cowie. Atlantic Salmon, Archaeology and Climate Change in New England. Journal of Archaeological Science 36:2184-2191.

2008(2010) Robinson, Brian S. Microblades and Seasonality: Settlement Patterns in the Tangle Lakes Region of Alaska. The Review of Archaeology, 29:21-40.

2008 Robinson, Brian S. Archaic Period Traditions of New England and the Northeast. In The New Archaic: Special Issue of the SAA Archaeological Record 8(5):23-26.

2007 Pelletier, Bertrand G., Brenda Hall and Brian Robinson. Evaluating Paleoindian Settlement in Relation to Pleistocene Lake Levels at Munsungun Lake, Northern Maine, USA. In Reconstructing Human-Landscape Interactions, edited by Lucy Wilson, Pam Dickenson and Jason Jeandron, pp.125-140. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, New Castle.

2007 Robinson, Brian S. A Fish Weir for the Ages, in Newport, Maine. Memories of Maine Magazine, edited by David Branch, March Issue.

2006 Robinson, Brian S., 2006, Burial Ritual, Technology, and Cultural Landscape in the Far Northeast: 8600-3700 B.P. in The Archaic of the Far Northeast, edited by David Sanger and Priscilla Renouf, pp. 341-381. University of Maine Press, Orono.

2006 Robinson, Brian S. Mackowski Farm Site, in Glacial and Archaeological Features of the Penobscot Lowland, Central Maine. Guidebook for the 69th annual field conference, of the Northeastern Friends of the Pleistocene, June 2-4, 2006, Orono.

2005 Robinson, Brian S. and William Eldridge. Debating Bull Brook, 1965-1972. Bulletin of the Massachusetts Archaeological Society 66(2):67-75.

2005 Robinson, Brian S. A Tale of Four Archaic Period Shell Middens on the Gulf of Maine. The Review of Archaeology 26(1): 30-34.

2005 Pelletier, Betrand G. and Brian S. Robinson. Tundra, Ice and a Pleistocene Cape on the Gulf of Maine: A Case of Paleoindian Transhumance. Archaeology of Eastern North America 33:163-176

2003 Multiple Boundaries of the Moorehead Burial Tradition. Northeast Anthropology. 66:15-28.

2003 Population Fluctuation, Climatic Events, and Culture History in the Northeast: Review of Fiedel. In The Review of Archaeology 24(1):56-61.

2001 Burial Ritual: Groups and Boundaries on the Gulf of Maine: 8600 – 3800 B.P. PhD dissertation, Anthropology Department Brown University, Providence

1998 Gulf of Maine Archaic Tradition. In Archaeology of Prehistoric Native America: An Encyclopedia, edited by Guy Gibbon and Kenneth Ames. Garland Reference Library of the Humanities. Vol. 1537

1996 (by Frederick H.West, Brian S. Robinson and Constance West) Whitmore Ridge. In American Beginnings, edited by Frederick H. West, pp. 386-394, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

1996 Archaic Period Burial Patterning in Northeastern North America. In Contributions to the Archaeology of Northeastern North America, edited by Brian S. Robinson, Special Issue of Review of Archaeology, 17(1):33-44

1996 Projectile Points, Other Diagnostic Things and Culture Boundaries in the Gulf of Maine Region. The Maine Archaeological Society Bulletin 36(2):1-24.

1996 A Regional Analysis of the Moorehead Burial Tradition: 8500-3700 B.P. Archaeology of Eastern North America 24:95-148.

1993 (with James B. Petersen) Perceptions of Marginality: The Case of the Early Holocene in Northern New England. Northeastern Anthropology 46:61-75.

1992 Early and Middle Archaic Period Occupation in the Gulf of Maine Region: Mortuary and Technological Patterning. In Early HoloceneOccupation in Northern New England, edited by Brian Robinson, James Petersen and Ann Robinson, Occasional Publications in Maine Archaeology 9:63-117. Maine Historic Preservation Commission, Augusta.

1985 The Nelson Island and Seabrook Marsh Sites: Late Archaic, Marine-Oriented People on the Central New England Coast. Occasional Publications in Northeastern Anthropology, Vol. 9, pp. 1-104.

Department of Anthropology
University of Maine
5773 S. Stevens Hall
Orono, Maine 04469-5773

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