From the Desert to the Plains: A Paleoethnobotanical Research Program

February 17, 2016. University of Calgary Room ES 162. 7:30pm

Dr. Glenn Stuart, University of Saskatchewan

In this presentation, Dr. Stuart will be describing paleoethnobotanical research he has conducted in the American Southwest and how the methods employed there are being adapted for his research on the Northern Plains. First, he will review results of archaeological pollen and macrobotanical analyses from recent work in the Phoenix Basin. Then he will explore the possibilities that similar research holds for elucidating the character of the archaeological record from Wanuskewin Heritage Park (WHP) in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Finally, a few preliminary results from his research at WHP will be presented, to illustrate how greater concern with plant use might affect our interpretations of precontact subsistence practices.

Aboriginal response on the plains to the Hudson’s Bay Company pemmican trade, 1780-1879

January 20, 2016. University of Calgary Room ES 443. 7:30pm

George Colpitts, University of Calgary

Scholars are presently divided over the extent to which aboriginal plains people responded to the market demand for bison pemmican to support the fur trade in Western Canada. This presentation explores the type of market developing in the British West, particularly after 1821 when the Hudson’s Bay Company, through its district purchasing system, could better control prices it paid for bison dried meats, fats and pemmican offered by aboriginal people. The company’s monopoly created distinctive encounters between newcomers and aboriginal people on the plains and likely affected long-term colonial developments.

Life and Death in the Napoleonic Era Royal Navy stationed at English Harbour, Antigua, West Indies

November 18, 2015. University of Calgary Room ES 443. 7:30pm

Dr.  Tamara Varney, Lakehead University

Nearly two decades of investigation of two burying grounds that were associated with the Royal Naval Dockyard at English Harbour, Antigua, West Indies has revealed some interesting insight into what life was like for Naval personnel posted to the West Indies. Sometimes referred to as the ‘Graveyard of Englishman’, the West Indies posting included many challenges such as tropical disease and lead poisoning. Both regular and enslaved personnel are represented in one of the cemeteries that was associated with a former Naval Hospital, while the other site appears to have been a less formal expedient burial ground allowing for a nice representation of lower ranking personnel.

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.