Sensational Sandy Sites—in the North and Beyond

  • Kurtis Blaikie-Birkigt, Tree Time Services Inc.
  • Krista Gilliland, Western Heritage Services Inc.
  • Grzegorz Kwiecien, Taiga Heritage Consulting Ltd.

Sandy landforms, such as hills, dunes, sheets, and even small-scale localized sandy deposits, tend to be associated with archaeological sites in numbers that are disproportionate to those on other types of landforms. The reasons for this are numerous, and include the fact that sandy landforms are commonly elevated and well-drained, provide structural foundations for animal traps or pounds, are groundwater recharge or discharge areas, and can support an increased diversity of flora and fauna relative to the surrounding regions. However, sandy sites are also typically more susceptible to disturbance, destabilization, and erosion. Human activity, past or present, can be a contributing factor in this disturbance.

Experience working in sandy landscapes in the prairies, parkland, and boreal forest indicates that, although people appear to have preferentially selected these landforms, there are typically differences in the density, extent, and type of artifacts recovered, depending on the ecoregion. What explanations are there for these differences? Possibilities include: depositional environment and taphonomy, post-depositional disturbances, patterns of occupation and activity, cultural preferences, and resource availability, among others. 

We invite researchers at all levels of experience and from all related fields (archaeology, traditional land use studies, geomorphology, etc.) to participate in this session, which will focus on discussions of the rich diversity, habitability, fragility, and formation of sandy landscapes. From landforms in the boreal forest, to the prairies, to dunes on the coast and along the Great Lakes, this session will focus on addressing commonalities and key differences in sandy sites in the north.. and beyond!