Maine’s Glacial History Vocabulary

Maine’s Glacial History


A collective term meaning “People of the Dawnland” that includes the four Wabanaki tribes: Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, Mi’kmaq, and Maliseet.






Post-glacial rebound

The weight of a glacier is so great that the continent sinks beneath it. As glaciers melt, the continent rises back up out of the magma or “rebounds” like a rubber duck pushed down into a bathtub full of water.



An arctic and sub-arctic biome or zone where trees will not grow. The vegetation consists of low growing plants such as mosses, lichens, and shrubs.



A geological epoch that began 2.6 million years ago and ended around 12,000 years ago at the beginning of the Holocene—the epoch in which we live. The Pleistocene was characterized by the end of the last glacial period and is the period of time during which present-day humans evolved and spread throughout the planet.



A term used to cover all the things a group of people need for daily life, including items necessary for food, shelter, clothing, and tools.



Anything used or modified by people.


Archaeological periods

Lengths of time during which the kinds of artifacts found in a given area tend to be of similar styles and purposes, including those found in different kinds of sites (habitation sites, camps, workshops, mortuary sites).


Projectile point

A pointed artifact attached to the tip of a projectile such as a spear, a dart, or an arrow. These are often made from stone through a chipping process called “knapping”, however they can also be made of bone or wood or by alternative methods such as grinding.


Image of an Inuit atlatl made of wood and bone. HM5729.1
Inuit atlatl made of wood and bone. HM5729


A tool used to throw a dart or spear farther and harder than could be thrown by hand.


Ground stone

A method of making stone tools that includes first creating a general shape through flaking or pecking and finishing the object by grinding it into a final form.


Image of a Mississippian ground stone celt. HM4803
Mississippian ground stone celt. HM4803



A tool with a beveled edge, generally ground from stone, and presumably used for woodworking.




Image of a Melanesian stone adz with wooden handle from Papua New Guinea. HM6601
Melanesian stone adz with wooden handle from Papua New Guinea. HM6601


A tool much like an ax, but with the blade hafted at a right angle to the handle, and used to shape large pieces of wood.


Image of a Mississippian triangular-shaped shell gouge. HM4787
Mississippian triangular-shaped shell gouge. HM4787



A tool with a grooved channel used to carve wood.



Image of a dugout canoe in a protective storage frame. HM2544
Dugout canoe or trough from Sabbathday Lake, Maine. HM2544


Dugout canoe

A canoe made by hollowing out a log.



Image of a stone net weight or sinker. HM8542
Stone plummet or net weight. HM8542



A ground stone object made with a groove for attaching it to a string or cord, presumably used as a weight, possibly for fishing with a net.




Archaeological tradition

A collection of artifacts frequently found together in similar kinds of archaeological sites.


Material culture

All of the physical things (tools, clothing, housing, jewelry, etc.) used by people in a given time and place.



Having to do with the water.



Having to do with the land.



The planting and raising of plants for food; these plants are usually “domesticated”, meaning that they have developed different forms and requirements from their natural ancestors through human selection.



An important early trade item. Knapped from flint, they were used in early firearms to create a spark, which would ignite gunpowder, propelling a musket ball from the gun’s barrel.