Cape Cod's Nature Place

The Cape Cod Museum of Natural History

Digging Into the Past

Digging into the Past

Long Hikes, Square Holes, and Poison Ivy: Working in Cultural Resource Management

The Cape Cod Museum of Natural History in Brewster kicks off its 2015 Archaeology/History series, Digging into the Past, with archaeologist and CCMNH volunteer,Dan Zoto on Saturday, March 28, 2015 at 1pm.

Learn about the daily life of a professional archaeologist as Dan discusses his experiences and debunks myths about fieldwork in New England Cultural Resource Management.  He will also explain why and how Native American and Historic archaeological sites are identified and excavated, as well as the importance of their protection. Learn the surprising answers to how deep in the ground 5,000 year old artifacts are found, how often an archaeologist will find gold, and what working outdoors year-round in New England entails.

Join Dan as he makes the exciting detective work of an archaeologist fun and accessible to the amateur and interested public alike. 

Free with Museum Admission



Archaeologist Brianna Rae

A 3,800-Year-Old Canoe Construction Site from Marshfield, Massachusetts

The Cape Cod Museum of Natural History in Brewster continues its popular archaeology/history series, Digging into the Past, with archaeologist Brianna Rae Saturday April 25, 2015 at 1pm.

In the fall of 2013, Brianna was part of a team of archaeologists from Archaeological and Historical Services, Inc. that excavated several sites in advance of construction activity in the town of Marshfield, Massachusetts. One large excavation block produced an uncommonly dense assemblage of Native American artifacts dating to the Terminal Archaic Period (4,100 to 3,600 years ago).  Brianna will describe the site’s unique characteristics, including the fortuitous circumstances that led to its unlikely discovery. The talk will include photos of the multitude of excavated artifacts which include stone knives, drills, pestles, and fishing weights. Brianna will explain how and why the tools were made and why the site is currently interpreted as a possible construction area for a birch bark canoe. Join Brianna to learn about the ground-breaking (pun intended!) results from analysis thus far, and what it tells us about this period in Southern New England’s distant past.

Join Brianna Rae as she makes the exciting detective work of an archaeologist fun and accessible to the amateur and interested public alike.

Free with Museum Admission




                                                           Paleo-ecology of Cape Cod and the adjacent islands

                                              Wyatt Oswald speaks Wednesday, May 6th    1pm   Free w/Admission.

As lakes and ponds fill up with sediments over hundreds and thousands of years, they create archives of past environmental and ecological changes.  Sediment cores have been collected from ponds across Cape Cod and the adjacent islands, and analyses of chemistry, pollen, and charcoal provide new insights into shifts in climate, vegetation, and fire over the past 15,000 years.  Of particular interest are (1) the abrupt decline of oak populations that took place 5500 years ago, and (2) human-environment interactions during recent millennia.  Taken together, these studies improve our understanding of the drivers, patterns, and rates of past ecological changes at spatial and temporal scales relevant to contemporary conservation and global-change questions.

Wyatt Oswald is an Associate Professor of Science at Emerson College and a Research Fellow at the Harvard Forest, Harvard University’s center for education and research on forest ecology and conservation.  In his research he uses retrospective approaches, including the analysis of lake-sediment cores, to improve our understanding of how ecosystems respond to climate change.  At Emerson he teaches courses on plant ecology, climate change, and natural disasters, and in 2010 he received the Helaine and Stanley Miller Award for Outstanding Teaching.



North Atlantic Archaeological Collaborative

Artifacts from the Pre 1650 Thomas Tobey active dig site.

                                                                Monday, June 29th  1pm    Free w/admission

Tom Keyes, Executive Director of the North Atlantic Archaeological Collaborative, and Archaeologist David Wheelock will share the fascinating story of the Cape Cod discovery of a buried treasure in downtown Sandwich.   The Keyes family discovered that their 1817 home was really pre 1650 during a renovation which led to the unearthing of the original location by Shawme Pond. They will bring artifacts found at the Thomas Tobey dig site such as the whale vertebrae that was used as a chopping block found still in the original hearth, Native American arrowheads, jewelry and pottery.  Their entertaining presentation will unravel the lost history of one of the original founders of Cape Cod.