New Hampshire

New Hampshire Archaeology: Artifacts of the Abenaki

Learn about the native people of New England as you uncover their history through lectures and hands-on excavation at archaeological sites in the Monadnock region.
Program No. 23728RJ
6 days
Starts at

At a Glance

Long before the colonists arrived in “the New World,” the Abanaki people called New Hampshire’s Monadnock Region home. Journey through 12,000 years as you explore the prime archaeological sites of New Hampshire, like the dwellings at Tenant Swamp. Examine stone tools and ceramics up close before you try your hand at recovering artifacts during excavation work in the field. Plus, discover the region’s famous covered bridges, all National Historic Landmarks, to help frame New Hampshire’s more modern history and heritage.
Activity Level
Keep the Pace
Walking up to a mile, bending, kneeling and light shoveling.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • Learn about archaeology from experts, and then try it yourself during an excavation exercise at a live dig site, weather permitting.
  • Meet a local Native American storyteller who will share stories from the Abenaki people who are local to this region.
  • Discover the creativity and artistry of the Abenaki with a study of Abenaki Potters and Pottery.

General Notes

The Retreat Difference: This unique, often basic and no-frills experience at a Road Scholar Retreat includes opportunities for early morning exercise, interaction with the local community for insight into local life, an authentic farm-to-table or locally sourced meal, a live performance or event, and a value-priced single room.
Featured Expert
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Robert Goodby
Robert Goodby is a professor of anthropology at Franklin Pierce University in Rindge. He holds a PhD in anthropology and has spent the last thirty years studying Native American archaeological sites in New England. He is a past president of the New Hampshire Archeological Society, a former Trustee of the Mount Kearsarge Indian Museum in Warner and served on the New Hampshire Commission on Native American Affairs. In 2010, he directed the excavations of four Paleoindian dwelling sites at the Tenant Swamp site in Keene.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

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Robert Goodby
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Sebastian Lockwood
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Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Abenaki Indian Legends, Grammar and Place Names
by Henry Lorne Masta
New England Forests through Time, Insights from the Harvard Forest Dioramas
by David R. Foster and John F. O'Keefe
Over the past three hundred years New England's landscape has been transformed. The forests were cleared; the land was farmed intensively through the mid-nineteenth century and then was allowed to reforest naturally as agriculture shifted west. Today, in many ways the region is more natural than at any time since the American Revolution. This fascinating natural history is essential background for anyone interested in New England's ecology, wildlife, or landscape. In New England Forests through Time these historical and environmental lessons are told through the world-renowned dioramas in Harvard's Fisher Museum. These remarkable models have introduced New England's landscape to countless visitors and have appeared in many ecology, forestry, and natural history texts. This first book based on the dioramas conveys the phenomenal history of the land, the beauty of the models, and new insights into nature.
Monadnock Moments..Historic tales from Southwest New Hampshire
by Alan F. Rumrill
Inspired by beloved local storyteller Fritz Wetherbee, Historical Society of Cheshire County director Alan F. Rumrill collected their sotires in his series, "Monadnock Moments" broadcast on Keene radio station WKNE from 1985 to 2005. Here he has gathered one hundred of his most interesting vignettes and paired them with historic images, chronicling the lives of business man, politicians and soldiers and spinning tales of disaster, murder and adventure that all had their roots in towns of southwest New Hampshire.
The Voice of the Dawn: An Autohistory of the Abenaki Nation
by Frederick Matthew Wiseman
"[My] story is a sash woven of many strands of language. The first strand is the remembered wisdom of the Abenaki community. The second strand is our history and that of our relatives, written down by European, Native American, and Euroamerican observers. The third strand is what our Mother the Earth has revealed to us through the studies and writings of those who delve in her, the archaeologists and paleoecologists. The fourth strand is my own family history and its stories. The fifth strand is, of course, that which has come to me alone, stories which I create with my own beliefs and visions." So begins the first book about Abenaki history and culture written from the inside. Frederick Matthew Wiseman's extensive research and personal engagement breathe life into Voice of the Dawn, making it truly unique. Colin Calloway, Chair of Native American Studies at Dartmouth College, writes, "Going beyond all previous works on the Abenakis, Wiseman draws on family and community knowledge in a way that none of those authors could, speaks from an avowedly Abenaki perspective, and addresses aspects and issues ignored in other works. Moreover, no one that I know of has done as much work in locating and regathering items of Western Abenaki material culture. The quality and quantity of illustrations alone make this an attractive book, as well as a valuable visual record of change and persistence over time. As someone personally and pivotally involved in the Abenaki renaissance, Wiseman brings the story up to date without closing it."
A Keene Sense of History II
by David R. Proper
Why did a Cheshire County man leave his house and live in a cave for several months during the Revolutionary War? What was a hogreeve? What Keene resident won the Boston Marathon seven times? These and many other questions are answered by Keene historian in David Proper's book.

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