The Archaeology of the Seventeenth Century in the Atlantic Northeast

Session Hosting Format: 
in-person session
Samedi, mai 4, 2024 - 1:20pm - 4:00pm
Michelangelo B
  • Catherine Cottreau-Robins, Nova Scotia Museum
Session Description (300 word max): 

New archaeology field and laboratory research focused on sites of the seventeenth century in the Atlantic Northeast region, has been underway in recent years. Among the current research topics, insights are emerging concerning landscape viewshed analysis, posts and stations as locales of multiple identities, food and diet, Indigenous collaboration, objects of trade and exchange, environmental impacts to sites, fresh review of old collections, copper and geochemical provenance studies, geophysics, and public engagement. This session is a call for papers within the broad realm of the title. The goal of the session is to consider more fully the work that is happening in the Atlantic Northeast and to provide participants with an opportunity to connect. It is anticipated that a wide-ranging mix of exciting and valuable information will be shared.

01:20 PM - 01:40 PM: Remote Sensing Techniques and Archaeological Prospection and Mapping of 17th Century Fur Trade Sites in Nova Scotia
Format de présentation : Online - pre-recorded
Auteur-e(s) :
  • Jonathan Fowler - Saint Mary's University and Northeast Archaeological Research

During the 17th century, a surprising number of commercial organizations operated fortified fur trade posts in what is now Atlantic Canada. Relatively few of these sites have been studied archaeologically, one factor obstructing our inquiries being their often-ephemeral nature. Even historically well-known sites have sometimes evaded detection. Remote sensing can play a constructive role here.

Archaeological remote sensing practitioners often distinguish between prospection (finding sites), and mapping (plotting their features). Although the methods and instruments employed in each activity can overlap, mapping surveys tend to be more intensive and consequently more time-consuming and data-rich. Ideally, prospection surveys inform mapping surveys, which in turn allow subsurface testing programs to be targeted to maximum advantage.

For the past several years, we have been employing a variety of aerial and terrestrial remote sensing techniques at 17th century fur trade posts in Nova Scotia, and this paper will briefly review sites studied, instruments employed, and lessons learned. Techniques include aerial LiDAR, 3D photogrammetry, and terrestrial electromagnetic induction (magnetic susceptibility and electrical conductivity) and ground-penetrating radar. The sites include Port-Royal, Fort St-Louis, Fort St-Pierre, and Fort Ste-Marie, each of which offers unique challenges and insights.   

01:40 PM - 02:00 PM: Engineering Avalon: Investigating Protoindustrial and Domestic Wastewater Systems in 17th-century Ferryland, Newfoundland
Format de présentation : Online - pre-recorded
Auteur-e(s) :
  • Barry Gaulton - Memorial University

Settled by the English in 1621, the colony of Avalon in Ferryland, Newfoundland has been studied by archaeologists for decades revealing, among other things, what may be the first European sanitation system in North America. Used to redirect and dissipate various forms of wastewater and excrement, the partially excavated 17th-century remains include subterranean masonry drains associated with the village’s brewhouse, stable, and kitchen, surface gutters placed along exterior cobblestone pavements, and even a communal privy positioned beside the inner harbor so that its contents were ‘flushed’ twice daily with the tides. Through the combined efforts of archaeologists and engineers, a project is underway to investigate the design, construction, and operation of individual drainage features and combined sanitation systems at Ferryland through the application of civil engineering principles. GPR, LiDAR, high-resolution Digital Elevation Models and computer simulations will be employed in these investigations. The goal is to provide a comprehensive local case study of early modern sanitation management, which includes considerations of site-specific ground slope, drainage, and availability of materials into How, What and Where things were built. Future research will contextualize these early sanitation practices within comparable traditions in Southwest England where most of Ferryland’s colonists originated.

02:00 PM - 02:20 PM: What stories are told by a simple pipe: The red clay pipe collection from Fort Saint-Louis
Format de présentation : Online - pre-recorded
Auteur-e(s) :
  • Vanessa Smith - Nova Scotia Museum

The collection of clay tobacco pipes from Fort Saint-Louis, an early seventeenth-century French trading post site in south-western Nova Scotia, encompasses a range of pipe styles - from the expected European kaolin clay pipes to a steadily growing collection of simple red clay pipes. These red clay pipes, characterized by sturdy stems with wide bore diameters and bowls with minimal decorative elaboration, have been excavated from units around the site and collected from the beach by community members.

This paper is intended as a preliminary study of this small but meaningful collection of pipe material. Through consideration of form, bore diameter, and decoration, as well as comparison to contemporary sites around the Atlantic region and farther afield, I will explore what insights the assemblage may offer about the inhabitants of the trading post and their participation in the emerging fashion of tobacco smoking, as well as the fort’s connection to other North American sites in the seventeenth century.

02:20 PM - 02:40 PM: Old Férolle Island: a reassessment of Indigenous and Basque presence on a 17th-century fishing station
Format de présentation : Online - pre-recorded
Auteur-e(s) :
  • Sarai Barreiro Argüelles - Université de Montréal

In 2022, the Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center in collaboration with the University of Montréal carried out archaeological work in northwestern Newfoundland, on Old Ferolle Island. The work was part of my doctoral research on Basque and indigenous interactions around the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, which assesses evidence of contemporary occupations on transatlantic fishing sites.

Historical research by Selma Barkham (1989) identified Old Férolle as a Basque fishing station during the 16th to 18th centuries. In 1993 and 1995, Callum Thomson, in a survey of Old Férolle, confirmed its use as a fishing post by Basque and French fishermen and by English in the 19th century. Thomson also reported the discovery of ten tent-ring features on the fishing station, which may belong to Inuit or other indigenous groups. Our work aimed to document the tent-rings and sought to identify evidence of Basque, Inuit, or other indigenous presence. The lack of in situ artifacts prevented us from drawing firm conclusions as to the cultural affiliation of the encampments. However, we obtained relevant information on a variety of forms of tent-rings that raise new hypotheses about indigenous presence in this cod fishing station and the dynamics of their occupations in the 17th century.

02:40 PM - 03:00 PM: Landscape Archaeology, Remote Sensing, and Past Research at Fort Saint-Marie-de-Grâce and the Razilly Colony, La Hève, Nova Scotia
Format de présentation : Online - pre-recorded
Auteur-e(s) :
  • Wesley Weatherbee - Saint Mary's University

Recognized as the first permanent French settlement in Acadia, an almost 10-kilometer span of coast along Nova Scotia’s south shore houses some of the first truly domestic activities by Europeans who had eyes to putting down roots here. At the centre of this plan was Isaac de Razilly at Fort Saint-Marie-de-Grâce, founder of the La Hève colony. The fort was constructed, and colony established in 1632 when 300 people came from France in support of this effort. Very little documentation exists to detail life in Razilly’s La Hève colony in the 1630s, though past archaeological research has confirmed the location of Fort Saint-Marie-de-Grâce.

This presentation contextualizes the archaeological remains of the La Hève colony through a lens of landscape archaeology with the aid of past research and remote sensing results. Past excavations have mostly focused on Fort Saint-Marie-de-Grâce and future ground penetrating radar and aerial multispectral mapping intend to improve characterization of that site. With the aid of lidar data covering the entirety of La Hève, the archaeological remains of the colony can be resolved in greater detail than previously possible. The synthesis of these approaches sheds new light on the landscape of 17th century La Hève.

03:20 PM - 03:40 PM: Archaeology at Fort Saint-Louis (AiDi-1) in Port La Tour, Nova Scotia
Format de présentation : In-Person
Auteur-e(s) :
  • Catherine Cottreau-Robins - Nova Scotia Museum

In 1931, Fort Saint-Louis, in the remote coastal community of Port La Tour, Nova Scotia, was declared a national historic site. The basis for the declaration was the association of the location with the early seventeenth-century, fortified fur-trade post of Charles de Saint-Etienne, Sieur de La Tour (c. 1593-1666), of Saint-Just, Champagne, France and Port Royal, Annapolis Basin, Acadie.  Under the care of landowners and community, Fort Saint-Louis remained largely undisturbed since the eighteenth century. This status changed in 2010, when archaeological assessment was required.  The arhcaeological work inspired a community-driven partnership, in place since 2017, to explore through archaeology, the landscape of Fort Saint-Louis and the multiple identities represented therein.

This paper summarizes the archaeology underway at Fort Saint-Louis and the success of a layered community approach. Focus will be placed on artifacts and cultural belongings that address the long cultural-landscape history in the bay as well as a long-standing gap in Nova Scotia's archaeological record. Underpinning the work, is a sense of urgency given increasing impacts to the site due to climate change events. 

03:40 PM - 04:00 PM: Determining the Provenance of Early Contact Trade Copper in Nova Scotia’s Bay of Fundy and Northumberland Strait regions
Format de présentation : In-Person
Auteur-e(s) :
  • Delaney Carter - Saint Mary's University
  • Jacob Hanley - Saint Mary's University
  • Katie Cottreau-Robins - Nova Scotia Museum
  • Roger Lewis - Nova Scotia Museum
  • Mostafa Fayek - University of Manitoba
  • Ryan Sharpe - University of Manitoba

Our study on the provenance of copper, including copper kettles of European origin (sixteenth to seventeenth century) associated with burials and sites of habitation within Nova Scotia used by the Mi’kmaq, is a subject of significant archaeological and cultural interest. By integrating data from complementary analytical techniques, including trace element analysis by laser ablation inductively-coupled plasma mass spectrometry and lead isotope analysis by secondary ion mass spectrometry, this research aims to trace the origins and migration of the copper in these objects through comparison of known sources of copper using ore compositions, and European copper coinage from the same period, including from Sweden’s historic Falun copper mines.

Recent findings of the study include the characterization of speiss inclusions by differing levels of Pb ± As, Sb, Sn, and Zn within both artifacts and European coinage. Speiss show a wide array of physical and compositional tendencies, with samples containing additional inclusions of Sn, Ag, and slag. Comparison of these characteristics demonstrate the relationship between artifacts and seventeeth century Swedish coinage. Artifacts express a range of Pb isotope ratios corresponding to the Fennoscandian shield suggesting a potential for multiple sources of copper and lead within the Bergslagen mining district of Sweden.