The Fascinating Arctic: So much amazing data, so many awesome possibilities, where are the archaeologists?

Session Hosting Format: 
in-person session
Vendredi, mai 3, 2024 - 1:50pm - 5:00pm
  • Gabriella Prager, InterGroup Consultants Ltd.
Session Description (300 word max): 

Over almost 25 years of working in the Canadian Arctic I have come to appreciate the great wealth of fascinating heritage and the substantial research and work opportunities. With considerable puzzlement, I have noted the total lack of any presentations on Arctic research in the past few years of the CAA meetings. This observation coupled with the retirement of some of the prominent Arctic specialists in recent years, made me wonder if there is still interest in Arctic research. But when I reached out to a few people, the responses made it clear that there is much amazing research going on in the Arctic. This session will provide a venue for researchers to communicate some of the interesting investigations and findings that are happening and for sharing the exciting possibilities for research and ongoing work in the Arctic

02:00 PM - 02:20 PM: The One-eyed Elder Woman Stitches an Ornament: Needles and Needle Cases from the Iamal Region of Arctic Siberia
Format de présentation : In-Person
Auteur-e(s) :
  • Tatiana Nomokonova - Department of Anthropology, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada
  • Stella Razdymakha - Arctic Research Center, Salekhard, Iamal-Nenets Autonomous District, Russian Federation
  • Lubov' Vozelova - Arctic Research Center, Salekhard, Iamal-Nenets Autonomous District, Russian Federation
  • Andrei Gusev - Arctic Research Center, Salekhard, Iamal-Nenets Autonomous District, Russian Federation
  • Andrei Plekhanov - Arctic Research Center, Salekhard, Iamal-Nenets Autonomous District, Russian Federation
  • Grace Kohut - Department of Anthropology, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada
  • Robert Losey - Department of Anthropology, University of Alberta (Edmonton, Canada) and University of Saskatchewan (Saskatoon, Canada)

The Iamal region of Siberia is one of many areas in the Arctic where women’s sewing skills were and are crucial to daily existence. It is home to Nenets and Khanty people and their reindeer. This territory is known as the global center of reindeer pastoralism, with many Indigenous families living a mobile lifestyle that involves moving with their animals on a seasonal basis across the tundra. Our presentation discusses needles and needle cases found at archaeological sites that were made and used by ancestors of the current Indigenous peoples of this region. We start by introducing women’s sewing bags, which are a symbolic representation of every stitch made by a woman’s hands in creating dwelling covers, bedding sets, storage bags, and every piece of clothing, all of which are crucial to the survival and well-being of her family. They embody layers of multigenerational skill, ancestral knowledge, and identity that are passed by Khanty and Nenets women to their daughters, nieces, and granddaughters. We continue with a summary of ancient needles and needle cases in an attempt to stitch together the past and present of these belongings.

02:20 PM - 02:40 PM: Reconstructing sled pulling activity in Arctic dogs using entheseal changes
Format de présentation : In-Person
Auteur-e(s) :
  • Jessica Sick - Department of Anthropology, University of Saskatchewan
  • Angela Lieverse - Department of Anthropology, University of Saskatchewan
  • Tatiana Nomokonova - Department of Anthropology, University of Saskatchewan
  • Robert Losey - Department of Anthropology, University of Alberta

Sled dogs are among the most iconic animals of the North, and their efforts in pulling sleds facilitated trade and subsistence practices of many Indigenous groups for millennia. Though the identification of archaeological sled dogs has been mostly addressed through their association with material remains of sleds and harnessing equipment, there is currently no way to identify sled-pulling activity directly from canid remains. As part of a larger project on Indigenous dog sledding of the Western Arctic, our research focuses on developing a visual scoring manual for entheseal changes to address this knowledge gap. Entheseal changes are morphological variations to muscle, tendon, and ligament attachment sites on bone and have been extensively studied in bioarchaeology, and more recently, in reindeer and equids to reconstruct working activity during life. This method is applied to canid remains by examining how visual scores in sled dogs, pet dogs, and wild canids reflect activity and biological factors like age, sex, and body size. The results show that sled dogs have significantly higher scores than non-working canids in several attachments, demonstrating this method also as a useful tool to better understand the history and development of human-dog relationships in the North.

02:40 PM - 03:00 PM: How old were these caribou? A method for estimating ages of Rangifer tarandus using dental wear and eruption
Format de présentation : In-Person
Auteur-e(s) :
  • Grace Kohut - University of Saskatchewan

Caribou and reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) are key animals and carry special significance to many peoples across the North, both in domestication and wild contexts. Unsurprisingly, their remains are found at many Northern archaeological sites. Despite their prevalence, some key zooarchaeological methods, namely age estimation using tooth wear, have been unavailable or unsuitable for most substantial populations; this includes barren-ground caribou (R.t. groenlandicus) that range across much of Northern Canada. This presentation outlines a refined visual-based method for tooth wear and eruption age estimation developed. Based on caribou from Northern Canada and wild forest reindeer from Finland, this method is designed to be generally applicable to Rangifer subspecies that would be found at many archaeological sites in North America and Eurasia. Estimated ages using this method are suitable for investigating age-based demographic data that can inform about hunting and domestication strategies in the past.

03:20 PM - 03:40 PM: Rethinking archaeological survey through Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit in Amittuq (northern Foxe Basin), Nunavut:
Format de présentation : In-Person
Auteur-e(s) :
  • Samantha Walker - McGill University

Pedestrian surveys in maritime regions of the Canadian Arctic often employ purposive sampling strategies that privilege outer seacoasts where large residential sites are located. These strategies have been influenced by the accessibility of coastal vs. inland sites, the heightened surface visibility of architectural remains in coastal contexts, and the economic-rationalist presumption that past people continuously occupied these settings to optimize their access to nearshore resources. In this paper, I propose that building archaeological survey designs in conversation with Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit can help address spatial biases by expanding the scope of investigations to include a greater variety of site types. Through a case study of two Tuniit (Paleo-Inuit) settlement areas in Amittuq (northern Foxe Basin), Nunavut, I outline how Inuit oral testimonies have informed targeted surveys of underrepresented contexts and the identification of newly documented sites. The research challenges dominant cultural-historical and socio-evolutionary narratives of the region's occupational history, and highlights local diversity in community practices and social structures during the Tuniit period (c. 2500 BCE – 1350 CE). 

03:40 PM - 04:00 PM: Transport Matters: A Circumpolar Look at the Archaeological History of Sledding
Format de présentation : In-Person
Auteur-e(s) :
  • Robert Losey - University of Alberta
  • Katherine Latham - University of Alberta
  • T. Max Friesen - University of Toronto
  • Matt Walls - University of Calgary

One of the most important transportation technologies employed in the Circumpolar North are sleds, vehicles that are pulled or pushed across snow-covered land and sea ice. Such vehicles are and were used for daily taskwork, recreational activities, and even long-distance episodes of human dispersal. This presentation outlines the archaeological history of sleds and related gear in the North. Our survey of archaeological literature demonstrates that sleds were in use by at least the Early Holocene. Even by this period, sled designs were variable and complex, suggesting a far deeper history of use. Keeled sleds, boat-like in form, were largely confined to the European North, while low sleds are largely found within traditional Inuit lands. Built-up sleds are more widespread, being present from Europe eastward through northern Alaska. Simple forms of dog sledding were also likely being practiced by the Early Holocene, but more modern forms seem to have emerged only in the Late Holocene. Reindeer sledding first emerged around 2000 years ago and gradually developed in Eurasia into modern forms.    

04:00 PM - 04:20 PM: Ancestral Inuit Occupations at Qausuittuq (Resolute Bay), Nunavut
Format de présentation : In-Person
Auteur-e(s) :
  • Sarah Hazell - University of Toronto

The ancestors of contemporary Inuit groups, known as Thule Inuit, migrated to Canada and Greenland from Alaska and the Bering Strait region approximately 800 years ago. Over a period of at least 200 years, between 1200 and 1400 A.D, they resided at Qausuittuq in a series of occupation events. The dwellings at the M1 (QeJu-1) site show a range of variability including deep semi-subterranean single-family habitations, bi-lobed and tri-lobed multi-roomed houses, qarmat (heavy tent rings for spring or fall seasons), and qarmat-like structures. Coupled with artifact analyses, two of the occupations indicate ties to the west, the original homeland(s) of the Thule Inuit. In this paper, I will explore these different residential episodes in the context of modelling the migration(s) of early and later Thule Inuit groups.

04:20 PM - 04:40 PM: Tuniit and Iqaluk: Intensive Dorset Fishing in Western Nunavut
Format de présentation : Online - pre-recorded
Auteur-e(s) :
  • Max Friesen - University of Toronto

Tuniit, a.k.a. Dorset Paleo-Inuit, are widely understood to have engaged in some fishing, based on occasional finds of fish bones, artifacts interpreted as fish spears, and locations of sites near good fishing places used by Inuit in more recent times. However, many aspects of Tuniit fishing, including its relative importance in different regions, and even methods used, are unclear. In this paper, I will bring together several strands of evidence to show how in one particular region, southern Victoria Island, fishing was a key part of Tuniit economic and social life. Large Middle Dorset sites in two areas – Iqaluktuuq and Iqaluktuuttiaq - both contain high frequencies of fish bones as well as small harpoon heads that were almost certainly used in fishing, particularly during the annual Arctic char (Iqaluk) runs.

04:40 PM - 05:00 PM: Contributions of Consulting Archaeology to Arctic Heritage
Format de présentation : In-Person
Auteur-e(s) :
  • Gabriella Prager - InterGroup Consultants Ltd.
  • Jennifer Tischer - Stantec Consulting Ltd.

The contributions of archaeological consultants working in Nunavut are often unrecognized given the confidential nature of development projects and archaeological data. Archaeological consultants often work in areas that have not previously been subject to research. The resulting body of data contributes to the understanding of past Arctic peoples’ land use and lifestyles. This presentation will provide a brief overview of the type and nature of archaeological investigations being undertaken in Nunavut in advance of development-related projects to showcase how consulting archaeology contributes to the archaeological record.