Impacting and Impacted : Changing Environments Then and Now

Friday, May 17, 2019 - 12:00pm
Saint-Louis (Posters)
12:00 PM: Flux
  • Laurence Ferland - Université Laval - CEN
  • James Woollett - Unviersité Laval - CEN
  • Najat Bhiry - Université Laval - CEN

The eye is captured by pretty, shiny, or unusual things. For archaeologists, what is expected, what fits a well-established narrative or possesses the characteristics of a well-known type normally has an uncanny way to be more obvious and pleasing to the mind. And then there is the rest: that bulk of sherds, flakes and slags constituting a large percentage of collections. Boxes of typeless artefacts are usually stored without further thought because ‘typeless’ is the annoying, undefined category. There is a story to the bulk finds, though, a story that often has more to do with matter than form, and with space more than time. It is a story that often emerges on larger scales and tells of the people’s relationship with matter and with the landscape in ways that rarely command archaeologists’ eyes, because the bulk can hardly be treated like things. In the context of the Bulgarian chalcolithic tell of Petko Karavelovo, the bulk enjoins archaeologists to move beyond typology and the typelessness of objects while bringing up the question about how can we begin to fix our gaze on matter that is not only typeless, but approaching a thing-less state as well?

12:00 PM: A Plague of Pigeons?: Isotopic Insights into the Historical Ecology of Late Holocene Passenger Pigeons
  • Eric Guiry - Trent University
  • Trevor  Orchard - University of Toronto Mississauga

At the time of European settlement one in four birds in North America was a passenger pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius) and a passing flock of them could block out the sun for hours. By 1914 the species was extinct. The rapid and early decline of the species meant that relatively little about their ecology was scientifically documented. It is likely, however, that passenger pigeons played an important role in transporting and regulating nutrient flows on a continental scale. For this reason, there is considerable ecological interest in understanding their dietary behaviour.  In this study, we use stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analyses of archaeological passenger pigeon bone collagen to assess the extent to which the species: 1) exhibited dietary flexibility, and 2) relied on subsidies from pre-contact agriculture. Results show that the foraging ecology of passenger pigeons was highly conservative but that some individuals were effectively exploiting Iroquoian maize gardens. These data have implications for anticipating possible ecological impacts of ongoing “de-extinction” efforts aimed at reviving the species.

12:00 PM: Echoes of the Past: Examining Environment Change Induced by Inuit Activity in Labrador
  • Ivan Carlson - Memorial University of Newfoundland

In the last few decades, environmental archaeologists have begun to challenge traditional views of hunter-gatherers as living in harmony with the natural world.  Humans exist as dynamic agents within environmental systems, whose lifeways have influenced landscape change throughout time in ways that are observable in the paleoecological record.  This is particularly true in Arctic and sub-Arctic regions where ecosystems have been shown to recover slowly, if at all, from anthropogenic disturbance.  My thesis proposes to illustrate the effectiveness of archaeoentomological methods in observing the impacts Inuit had in these environments through examining settlements as sites of significant ecological disturbance.  Through the examination of beetle remains from peat profiles in the vicinity of archaeological sites, I will test whether an ecological “footprint” for Inuit activities can be recognized in the archaeoentomological record, while also documenting ecological changes associated with specific resources and activities.  Additionally, I plan to integrate insect subfossil data with other high-resolution archaeo-environmental analyses and radiocarbon dating, with the overall goal of contributing towards the establishment of a chronology for the Inuit occupation of specific sites in the area of Okak in Northern Labrador.

12:00 PM: Enhanced Testing for Archaeological Impact Assessments: Innovation in the Field
  • Chelsea Colwell-Pasch - Colbr Consulting, Inc
  • Brent Suttie - Archaeological Services Branch, Government of New Brunswick
  • Vanessa Sullivan - Colbr Consulting, Inc

Standardized, or systematic, sub-surface testing for Archaeological Impact Assessments (AIAs) has been common practice in CRM methodology since the 1970s, when an increase in land development projects occurred throughout North America. Traditionally, test pits are hand dug with shovels and processed with bipedal screens; however, innovations out of an industry partnership between Colbr Consulting Inc. and the Government of New Brunswick have seen this methodological standard take massive leaps forward in utility, efficiency, accuracy and preference by developers.

Enhanced testing, or mechanical sub-surface testing, methods for AIAs increases many aspects of archaeological survey, including: the number of areas suitable for testing, the depth to which systematic testing can occur, and testing efficacy in wet sites. Furthermore, it replaces monitoring in many cases, reduces the time required to test large scale projects, and reduces technician attrition and fatigue. In addition, it increases the amount of site being sampled as well as the confidence interval, and increases artifact recovery rates per test pit. Lastly, it ensures replicability in every test pit excavated. Mechanical testing for AIAs should be considered an ‘Enhanced Testing’ method as it is more efficient, more evolved, more economical and just as ethical as traditional shovel testing.

12:00 PM: Evaluation and monitoring of climate change impacts on the archaeological record of the Dog Island region, Nunatsiavut
  • James Woollett - Université Laval, Centré d'études nordiques
  • Najat Bhiry - Université Laval, Centré d'études nordiques
  • Matthieu Thivet - Université Franche-Comté, Besançon. France

Diverse factors such as isostatic rebound, cold and damp climatic conditions and permafrost have fostered exceptional preservation conditions for whole sites and for organic remains in the Nain region of Nunatsiavut.  Current climate change processes impinge on these conditions however and the lack of diachronic studies of contemporary site taphonomy hinders assessment of the nature, scale and speed of their impacts.   Long-term research projects focused on specific sites can provide a means to grapple with the problem. This presentation reviews site taphonomy data compiled since 2000 by archaeological field projects in the Dog Island region of Nunatsiavut.  Survey, excavation and soil coring records, paleoenvironmental surveys and photographic documentation are used to identify current threats to archaeological sites and landscapes.  Sea level rise and coastal erosion comprise a major risk factor.  This study suggests that even more dangerous factors may include the loss of permafrost patches associated with peat and anthropogenic soils, the subsequent erosion of the soil column and the shrubbification of peat and tundra environments where well-preserved sites are found.  A proposed programme of remote sensing, site assessment and instrumentation and mapping provides a set of tools for monitoring and measuring the scale of these threats in the region, in the immediate future.


12:00 PM: Heritage at risk… or risky heritage?: the plastic wastescape of Newfoundland’s Sugarloaf Path as ‘difficult’ heritage
  • Emma Lewis-Sing - Memorial University of Newfoundland
  • Julia Brenan - Memorial University of Newfoundland
  • Oscar Moro Abadía - Memorial University of Newfoundland

Contemporary global climate and environmental crises have victimized the archaeological record. Archaeologists and heritage specialists have mobilized with strategies to intervene and salvage where coastal erosion, thawing ice, and devastating flooding, among other phenomena, are wreaking havoc on cultural resources. Heritage is indeed at risk. Ironically, much of contemporary material heritage has negative and dynamic effects for the health of ecologies. The material heritage of the recent past and present is a risk in itself for the future. This poster presents the particular case of plastics and interprets them through the theoretical lens of  ‘difficult’ heritage and places of shame. A section of the plastic-littered landscape of the Sugarloaf Path in Newfoundland was mapped in 2018 using RTK and GIS methodology. It serves as a case study for a discussion of how the emotive and affective dimensions of heritage might serve as a psychosocial mechanism for stimulating reduced consumption and discard of plastics. This interpretation explores how archaeologists can be activists not for the salvaging or conservation of plastic wastescapes, but rather for their termination.

12:00 PM: Identifying Migrants in Roman Spain: A study using Strontium Isotope Analysis
  • Rachelle Brydon - Memorial University of Newfoundland
  • Vaughan Grimes - Memorial University of Newfoundland
  • Domingo Carlos Salazar García - University of the Basque Country

Here we present the results of an isotopic study of movement on the Iberian Peninsula during the Imperial Roman period.  This study focuses two specific populations from sites in eastern Spain; one coastal, and one in-land (Valentia and Segóbriga). Since Valentia was a thriving agricultural centre and port town, and Segóbriga was home to a notable mine, and both sites are located along Roman roads, it is plausible that individuals in the past migrated into these areas.  Human (n=101) and horse (n=1) enamel and dentine were sampled for strontium isotope analysis (87Sr/86Sr).  The locally bioavailable strontium range was calculated for each site using the mean and two standard deviations of dentine values.  Results from enamel values show 24% (4/17) of individuals from Segóbriga who originated from outside the local range.  For Valentia, 19% (16/84) were identified as non-local.  Males and females migrated into Valentia in similar proportions.  All infants and children were identified as local, while 25% of adolescents and young adults respectively were classified as migrants. 20% of adults were non-local, and 50% of mature adults had enamel values outside the local range.  Results from horse enamel show that the animal was brought into Valentia as well, potentially originating from an isotopically similar geographic area to a number of human migrants.  This study confirms the presence of migrants in both Valentia and Segóbriga, but on a broader scale, builds on the current isotopic understanding of movement and migration in eastern Spain during the Imperial Roman period.

12:00 PM: Nunavik’s heritage at risk: an example of site erosion at the Qulliapik site (JlGu-3) on Pujjunaq (Mansel Island), northern Hudson Bay.
  • Elsa  Cencig - Avataq Cultural Institute
  • Tommy Weetaluktuk - Avataq Cultural Institute
  • Vincent Gautier-Doucet - Avataq Cultural Institute
  • Susan Lofthouse - Avataq Cultural Institute

Climate warming poses a substantial threat to Canada’s heritage, most particularly in the Arctic where the impact of climate change is more pronounced. For Inuit, much of their heritage is preserved in oral histories and the archaeological record. As the permafrost becomes increasingly unstable through warming, the archaeological matrix is subject to more freeze/thaw cycles and vulnerable to erosion. In Nunavik, as in much of the Canadian Arctic, most of the archaeological heritage is found along the coast, and sites located along gravel beach ridges and sandy bluffs are particularly vulnerable. A recent research project conducted by Avataq Cultural Institute, in collaboration with the northern village of Akulivik, investigated the occupation history of Pujjunaq – a large uninhabited island in northeastern Hudson Bay. The initial survey conducted in 2014 found a number of sites threatened by erosion, and in 2017 a salvage excavation was undertaken at the endangered Qulliapik (JlGu-3) site. The site is composed of both Dorset and Thule Inuit structures, with the Dorset record particularly under threat. A total of 110 sites were documented along the eastern coastline of the island, successively occupied for over 3800 years. Quick action is needed in order to preserve the rich occupation history of Pujjunaq before it is too late.

12:00 PM: Reconstructing climate conditions in the Labrador and Baffin regions during the 16-17 Centuries and its potential impact on long distance ice travel of the Labrador Inuit
  • Nicolai von Oppeln Bronikowski - Memorial University
  • Heather Andres - Memorial University
  • Deirdre Elliott - Memorial University

Between the mid-17 to 19 centuries, Inuit in Labrador and parts of Greenland both adopted large, communal living arrangements. It is unclear to what extent this transition in these two locations arose separately, or whether there was communication between these two regions that might have influenced their coincident development. To better understand the extent and nature of Inuit socio-economic networks, it may help to know what climate conditions were like at the time. How extensive was winter sea ice in the Labrador Sea and Baffin Bay? How stormy was it? We here attempt to answer these questions using simulated climate results from the Climate Modelling Intercomparison Project (CMIP) 5 and an ice reconstruction from Kinnard et al. (2011). Using global climate model simulations to reconstruct past regional climate conditions has some notable challenges: there is no guarantee that the climate state in the model matches historical conditions, and the resolution of the climate data is too low to resolve the small-scale features that would have been important to Inuit. To assess the effectiveness with which these climate model simulations describe climate conditions during the period of interest, we perform a model-data comparison over a later period when local data records exist, namely, the late 18 century Labrador coast Moravian mission weather dataset published in Demarée (2008). On the basis of this comparison, we present both our best estimates of climate conditions during the 16-17 centuries in Labrador and Baffin Bay, as well as our confidence in those results.

12:00 PM: Sensing the Unseen: Archaeo-geophysical Survey on the Ushpitun Landform
  • Allan Wolfrum - MA candidate, Memorial University

A multi-instrument archaeo-geophysical survey was conducted on the Ushpitun landform (central Labrador) to demonstrate the efficacy of alternative prospection methods to traditional shovel testing and pedestrian survey done previously in the area. Initial archaeological explorations in the late 1990s located one Intermediate period (3500-1800 BP) site FhCb-04, but additional features have since emerged due to erosion activity and accidental discovery and necessitating a more comprehensive survey technique. This novel approach used a magnetometer cart system, as well as a susceptibility/conductivity meter and ground penetrating radar to extensively cover an area of approximately 23,000 m2. Archaeo-geophysical techniques proved capable of elucidating combustion or burned (hearth, etc.) features at a greater density than previous inquiries but were susceptible to unique limitations in terms of cost, complexity, and topography. The utility of geophysical prospection in locating precontact features in this context is subject to more consideration than initially hypothesized, despite its success.

12:00 PM: The Alligator Lake throwing dart: New insights into ancient hunting technology from Yukon Ice Patches
  • Ty Heffner - Government of Yukon, Whitehorse
  • Christian Thomas - Government of Yukon, Whitehorse
  • Valerie Monahan - Government of Yukon, Whitehorse
  • Claire Alix - Université Paris 1, Panthéon Sorbonne / CNRS UMR8096, France
  • Jen Herkes - Carcross/Tagish First Nation, Carcross, Yukon, Canada
  • Carcross/Tagish First Nation
  • Kwanlin Dun First Nation

In the mountains of the Yukon, northern Canada, mountain ice patches have been melting and revealing a 9,000-year record of First Nations’ hunting weapons. Included in these assemblages are dozens of lost hunting arrows and the fragmentary remains of more ancient hunting spears referred to as a throwing darts or atlatl darts. For 20 years the fragmentary remains of this locally extinct technology have been recovered from a variety of sites across southern Yukon. For the first time in the summer of 2018 a complete, and entirely intact throwing dart was recovered from the overlapping territories of the Carcross/Tagish and Kwanlin Dün First Nation’s. This specimen is crafted from three separate pieces of wood and features an intact stone point, sinew bindings and carefully applied fletching. In this poster we will describe the construction and design of this weapon and how new insights from our analysis lend insight to previously made discoveries.

12:00 PM: Supplying Saint Pierre: Trade, Exchange, and Identity in the North-Atlantic (1763-1815)
  • Mallory  Champagne - Memorial University

On-going archaeological research in Saint-Pierre and Miquelon has revealed traces of several complex historic occupations, each associated with the French transatlantic cod fishery dating from the 17th to late 20th century. These islands present archaeologists a particularly unique research opportunity, as they are the last French-governed territory in North America and have been since the end of the Seven Year’s War in 1763. My Master’s research will investigate the French trade networks in the North-Atlantic following 1763 through to 1815, when the French presence in the New World was arguably the most challenged. Using ceramics as a testament to trade activity in Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, I will compare these artifacts to those from a temporally similar French colonial occupation. In conjunction with this ceramic analysis, I will use corresponding archival documents to retrace supply routes that provisioned this colony. Through these analyses, I ultimately seek to ascertain the ties that bind Saint-Pierre and Miquelon with the greater Atlantic trade networks during this distinct period and shed light on what impact that these ties have had on the cultural identity of these islands’ inhabitants. This poster will specifically demonstrate the connection that Saint-Pierre and Miquelon has to the greater Atlantic world.