Recent Discoveries in the Sierra de Atapuerca (Spain)

October 21, 2015. University of Calgary Room ES 162. 7:30pm

Dr. Rolf Quam, Binghamton University

The Pleistocene cave sites in the Sierra de Atapuerca in northern Spain are well-known for a number of important paleoanthropological discoveries. In particular, the site of the Sima de los Huesos (the Pit of the Bones) has yielded the largest collection of human fossils from the Middle Pleistocene time period. These fossils are generally considered to represent ancestors of the later Neandertals. The site has been under excavation for the last 30 years and has provided an abundance of data on the course of human evolution in Europe, including the earliest evidence for human funerary behavior in the archaeological record. An overview of the discoveries and the significance of the site will be presented, along with some discussion of the latest findings.

The Ninth Clan—Exploring Apachean Origins in the Promontory Caves, Utah

September 16, 2015. University of Calgary Room ES 162. 7:30pm

Dr. Jack Ives, University of Alberta

Twentieth century anthropologist Julian Steward concluded in the 1930s that the Promontory Caves on Great Salt Lake, Utah, contained highly suggestive evidence that Navajo or Apache ancestors had lingered briefly in the eastern Great Basin on their way between Canada and the American Southwest. Compelling though Steward’s arguments were, comparatively few archaeologists took them seriously. Today we can use the astonishing array of perishable materials (including hundreds of moccasins, as well as mittens, other clothing, basketry, bows, arrows, and bison robes) from Steward’s as well as our own more recent excavations in the Promontory Caves to illustrate how Steward was indeed correct, and how Dene ancestors originally from the Subarctic had begun their transformation toward historic Navajo and Apache cultural identities.

Studying a Social Field in the South-Central Andes with portable X-Ray Florescence

April 15, 2015. University of Calgary Room ES 162. 7:30pm

Emily Stovel, Department of Anthropology, Ripon College, Wisconsin

Southern Bolivia, northern Chile and northwestern Argentina were co-occupied in prehistory by a range of communities. In order to explore the ways ceramics were used to express and consolidate relationships across this large geographic expanse, we developed a multi-disciplinary, multi-national team of scholars which uses multiple lines of archaeometric evidence to characterize various ceramic styles. This paper details our research protocol and some of our case studies as examples of how we aim to understand changes in ceramic production and consumption at a regional level. Our principal means of data collection so far is through portable X-Ray Fluorescent instruments at a series of North and South American museums. These data permit broad understanding of the chemical profiles of well-known styles and provide hypotheses for subsequent stages of research.

Posts and Hearths, Squiggles and Beeps: Non-Invasive Methods at the Cluny Fortified Village

February 18, 2015. University of Calgary Room ES 162. 7:30pm

Lance Evans

Dug in along the edge of a terrace above the Bow River in the Siksika Nation, the Cluny Fortified Village site (EePf-1) still stands out both literally and archaeologically. With its earthworks fortifications, distinctive pottery style, and unusual features, the village appears to be unique in the Canadian Plains and demands meticulous detail in its study. Recently, geophysical and other non-invasive techniques have been applied to the site which complement traditional excavation to further our understanding of its construction, layout, and purpose.

Creating Resiliency through Awareness and Preparation – a Long Term Conservation Strategy for Protected Community Historic Resources in Medicine Hat, Alberta

Talva Jacobson. Photo © 2015 Kai Sunderland

January 21, 2015. University of Calgary Room ES 162. 7:30pm

Talva Jacobson, Medalta Potteries Resident Industrial Archaeologist, PhD Student, Michigan Technological University

Flood waters penetrated both Medalta Potteries National Historic Site and The Medicine Hat Brick and Tile Co. Provincial Historic Resource, in June 2013, creating awareness that the historic and archaeological resources inside these sites are susceptible to deterioration or complete loss when exposed to unforeseen disaster. The flood that impacted Southern Alberta was the most expensive flood in Alberta’s history. In addition to the tens of thousands of people displaced during this flood event, there were many heritage resources damaged by flood waters. I returned to the Historic Clay District of Medicine Hat to assess the damage of heritage resources affected by flooding, monitor decontamination, establish methods to stabilize remains and prepare a conservation strategy for the long term conservation of these resources. This talk will reveal how heritage resources at Medalta Potteries and the Medicine Hat Brick and Tile Co. were impacted, what steps were taken to prepare, recover, and stabilize damaged heritage resources at these sites. Historic kiln structures require specific procedures aimed at preparing resources when disaster is imminent. The lessons learned since 2013 have revealed that resiliency lies in awareness, community collaboration minimizes risk, and an emergency management plan reduces the damage to or loss of heritage resources.

Archaeological resource management and the Nicaraguan trans-oceanic canal

Geoff McCafferty. Photo © 2014 Kai Sunderland.

November 19, 2014. University of Calgary Room ES 162. 7:30pm

Geoffrey McCafferty, University of Calgary

Archaeological work has begun in advance of the Nicaraguan trans-oceanic canal that will span the 300 km wide Central American country from the Caribbean to the Pacific, challenging the Panama Canal for economic dominance in the hemisphere.  Extensive cultural resources will be impacted by the project and associated development in a country that has been relatively ignored by archaeologists since the mid-19th century … with the exception of a 15 year project by archaeologists from the University of Calgary.  This illustrated presentation will address the history and goals of the Nicaraguan canal project, and describe how recent University of Calgary archaeologists have transformed the cultural history of Nicaragua.  Past projects have included excavations along the lake shore and on one of the prominent islands in the lake, areas that will be impacted by the canal, while focussing on a period when migrants from central Mexico allegedly conquered and colonized the region in order to monopolize cacao production.

Mountain Living: Frozen Artifacts and Alpine Archaeology in the Mackenzie Mountains of NWT

Todd Kristensen. Photo © 2014 Kai Sunderland

September 17, 2014. University of Calgary Room ES 162. 7:30pm

Todd Kristensen

Recently discovered ice patch artifacts from Yukon and NWT have revealed a wealth of unique information about prehistoric hunting in high altitude areas. My PhD dissertation examines the broader context of alpine adaptations through excavations at mountain lakes and rivers in the vicinity of ice patch artifact locales. Results from three summers of excavations reveal that ice patch hunting could be a high-risk and labour intensive task but measures were taken to buffer potential failures.

Managing Chaos at the Okotoks Erratic.

Jack Brink. Photo © 2014 Kai Sunderland

October 15, 2014. University of Calgary Room ST 141. 7:30pm

Jack Brink, Royal Alberta Museum

The Okotoks Big Rock is a designated provincial historic site that is owned and operated by the Alberta government as a tourist destination. In the past several decades the town of Okotoks has exploded in population, leading to greater public presence at the Big Rock erratics and a sharp increase in vandalism, especially graffiti. In addition to graffiti being unsightly and disrespectful, it threatens the integrity of rock art and red ochre smears that are known to be located on the rocks. Improved photo enhancement has led to discovery of much more rock art at Okotoks than previously known, including in places that have been covered with graffiti. But how to remove graffiti without harming the underlying rock art? This talk explores that question, reports on recent efforts to record the rocks in 3D, reviews graffiti removal episodes and rock art integrity, and considers future directions for management of the troubled Okotoks site.

Not Quite Written in Stone: Rock Art Monitoring at Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park, Alberta

April 16, 2014. University of Calgary Room ES 162. 7:30pm

Mike Turney, Golder Associates, Calgary, Alberta. 

Although rock art is literally ‘written in stone’, it is unfortunately not as un-changing or stable as this expression of permanence might suggest. The rock substrate upon which rock art is created can be affected by natural deterioration, surface weathering of the rock art itself, and by subsequent inscriptions and acts of vandalism. As part of a project to nominate Writing-on-Stone (WOS) Provincial Park for UNESCO World Heritage Site status, the rock art panels at the Park have been systematically monitored for the last four years. Possibly the only program of its kind in Canada, the presentation details the implementation and progress of the monitoring program thus far and presents some of our initial findings.