Malaga Island's Archaeological Record

Evidence of Malaga Island's community survived on the island through the commonly used objects left behind by the residents. In 1989, University of Southern Maine archaeologists began to explore the island, looking for physical evidence of the community that once called Malaga Island home. Field research focused on examining shell midden deposits at the site of the historic community and conducting artifact surveys on the adjacent tidal flats. The archaeologists recovered approximately 50,000 artifacts from strategically sampled areas of excavation. Malaga Island is now recognized as a noteworthy archaeological site due to the specific household footprints that can be matched to individual African Americans for a defined period of time.

Maine State Museum Chief Educator Joanna Torow sat down recently with University of Southern Maine archaeologists Rob Sanford and Nate Hamilton to get an inside look at their work on Malaga Island. View the video Archaeology on Malaga Island to learn more.

Everyday Lives: An Interim Report on Archaeological and Environmental Investigations of Malaga Island, Phippsburg, Maine is now available as a preliminary analysis of the archaeological work on Malaga Island. Associated with this work were two formal field schools in the summers of 2006 and 2007 under the auspices of the University of Southern Maine. The field schools and subsequent explorations have resulted in over 56,000 artifacts and extensive laboratory work. The Malaga Island artifacts are now in the collection of the Maine State Museum and are accessible for research. Although the work continues, the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the eviction of the Malaga residents in 1912 and the important discussions engendered by Malaga Island have led to the issuance of this interim report on the archaeology. Due to its preliminary nature, the artifact collection is partial and the data analysis is on-going. The multiple field schools and the extensive number of artifacts, while only a small percentage of the potential data recovery the island could yield, provide a wealth of information. A significant number of tables and photographs are contained in the preliminary report to summarize and present this information.

For more information about the archaeological investigations of Malaga Island, contact archaeologists Nathan Hamilton, Ph.D. or Robert Sanford, Ph.D. at the University of Southern Maine.

For information about the Malaga Island archeological collection, contact Chief Archaeologist Dr. Bruce Bourque at the Maine State Museum.