At Calgary Public Library – 7pm MT:
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 20th, 2023: DR. KATHRYN REESE-TAYLOR
Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, University of Calgary
Co-authors: Armando Anaya Hernández (Autonomous University of Campeche) Felix A. Kupprat (National Autonomous University of Mexico)
Urban Development and Land-Use Strategies in the Calakmul region, southern Campeche
The Bajo el Laberinto Archaeological Project (PABEL) was initiated in 2011 to study urban development and its environmental impacts in one of the most densely occupied and environmentally sensitive regions in the tropical Maya lowlands. Our study area surrounds the Bajo el Laberinto wetlands and is focused on city of Calakmul, one of the largest and most significant cities in the Precontact Americas. Since 2014, we have conducted multiple lidar surveys of over ca. 270km2, revealing continuous dense settlement and multiple previously unknown cities. As well, archaeological excavations have afforded new insights regarding the long-term urban development, landscape modification, and environmental management within the region. In this presentation, we will discuss the emergence, florescence, decline, and reoccupation of the Bajo el Laberinto urban landscape from 1000 BCE to 1460 CE, with an emphasis on the distinct settlement patterns and land management strategies that resulted in exceptional and long-lasting prosperity.
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 18th, 2023: Dr. Carolyn Willekes
Department of General Education, Mount Royal University
From the Horse’s Mouth: Understanding Ancient Greek Equestrianism
Horses have long played an intrinsic role in human society, and this was certainly the case in ancient Greece where they were a living embodiment of wealth, status, and prestige. Images of horses gallop, snort, and prance their way through the artistic record, and references to equines are found throughout the textual tradition. The pervasive presence of this animal in the literary and visual culture of the Greek world attests to their symbolic and economic significance, but what if we dig a bit deeper? What can we discover about the horses themselves and their interactions with humans, and how can we use this to build a more detailed understanding of the importance of this animal? This talk will look at the horse as a living artifact by exploring some of the ways in which we can use experimental archaeology, practical experience and equestrian knowledge, as well comparative studies to reconsider different ideas and theories about ancient horses and horsemanship in order to build a more comprehensive picture of equines and equestrianism in the ancient world.
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 15th, 2023: KELSEY PENNANEN & CHRISTIAN THOMAS
Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, University of Calgary & Government of Yukon Territory
Stories from the Snow: High Alpine Hunting Histories
Over the past several decades melting perennial snow patches in southern Yukon have revealed a plethora of hunting artifacts and activities. Recent investigations into artifact recoveries as well as the use of digital aerial recording technologies have revealed new insights into how these landscapes were used and managed through time. A visually-captivating and exciting landscape facing immense changes, high-alpine resource patches have remained a constant in the repertoire for hunting practices. This talk will discuss new interpretations of old traditions based on insights revealed through conversations with Indigenous hunters, artifacts and ecofacts recovered melting from the ice, and applications of digital recording technologies in remote landscapes.
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 17th, 2024: Duane Mistaken Chief
Concepts, Names, and Processes: A Chat with Duane Mistaken Chief
Duane Mistaken Chief is a noted Kainai Elder, researcher and educator in Blackfoot Ways and Language. He provides language consultation and is a senior instructor and lecturer in Blackfoot language and Blackfoot ways of life at Red Crow Community College on the Blood Reserve. His talk to the Archaeology Society will include concepts, names and processes and how he has encountered numerous mistranslations.
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 21st, 2024: Dr.Timothy R. Pauketat
Department of Anthropology, University of Illinois
Urbanism as a State of Mind: What was Cahokia, and How did it Shape History?
Recent trends in theoretical and collaborative archaeology force a rethinking of the nature of early or alternative urbanisms. North of central Mexico, the largest instance of a so-called “city” was the Mississippian-era entity of Cahokia. To explain what it was, and how it affected its world and the diverse people thereof, we revisit the latest “new materialist” thinking as well as three large-scale archaeological projects—at East St. Louis, Trempealeau, and Emerald—that ran from 2008 to 2017 inside and outside Cahokia’s 20 square kilometer core zone. Unlike later Mississippian places, Cahokia was a great place of origins with links to a primordial world, its stars and its waters, that drew immigrants in yet allowed them to depart when the time was right.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 20th, 2024: DR. PATRICK O’GRADY & DR. THOMAS W. STAFFORD Jr.
Museum of Natural and Cultural History, University of Oregon & Stafford Research, LLC, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Utilizing Tooth Enamel from Extinct Megafauna to Date the Earliest Occupations at Rimrock Draw Rockshelter, Harney County, Oregon USA
Camelops sp. and Bison spp. tooth enamel fragments recovered from late Pleistocene alluvial deposits at Rimrock Draw Rockshelter (35HA3855) in the northern Great Basin region of Oregon were used for AMS 14C dating. Five specimens yielded eleven AMS 14C dates ranging from 11,190±25 RCYBP (13,170 – 13,080 Cal. BP [95% CI]) to 15,150±40 RCYBP (18,650 – 18,260 Cal. BP [95% CI). The youngest enamel dates are coeval with Clovis occupations elsewhere in North America; the older specimens pre-date Clovis by 5000 years or more. Our results indicate that the geochemistry of basalt terrains in the northern Great Basin enables accurate 14C dating of enamel bioapatite (carbonate hydroxyapatite) from extinct megafauna tooth enamel from valley alluvium otherwise devoid of bone, wood, and charcoal. The sample preparation process is likely effective in other non-carbonate (basalt) terrains and expands the range of geochronology options for archaeologists needing reliable dates on non-conventional fossil material. The presentation will focus on two themes: A survey of the site characteristics and context, and the recent advances made in AMS14C chemistry as embodied in this research.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 17th, 2024: DR. SCOTT MACEACHERN
Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, Duke University
Archaeologenetics and the African Past
There has been less archaeology done in Africa than on any other continent, and the prehistory of much of this vast area remains more or less unknown. Archaeogenetics provides us with a new and extremely powerful way of looking at population movements and contacts in the past, and the comparison of archaeological and genetic data offers the prospect of great advances in our understanding of African prehistory. In particular, the extraction of ancient DNA from human remains and archaeological samples throw light upon a world that has been transformed over the centuries. At the same time, interdisciplinary research involves challenges: archaeological and genetic data inform us on different aspects of human history, and each approach has its own strengths and weaknesses. This lecture will offer a discussion of these issues, with examples drawn from different parts of Africa and with comparisons to historical reconstructions from other areas of the world.
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 21st, 2022: DR. REBECCA GILMOUR
Department of Sociology & Anthropology, Mount Royal University, Calgary
Injury & Activity across the Empire: The BioArchaeology of How Ancient Romans Experienced Trauma
Our skeletons capture and preserve evidence for our movement, activity, and health experiences that can be ‘read’ by bioarchaeologists and biological anthropologists to interpret past human behaviours and experiences. Evidence for trauma in particular can provide bioarchaeologists with a window into the hazards, risks, treatments, and factors influencing recovery in the past. This presentation uses palaeopathological and biomechanical methods to investigate limb fractures in ancient Romans from Ancaster, UK (a small town) and Vagnari, Italy (an Imperial Estate) (1st to 4th centuries CE). Through a detailed examination of fracture types, healing, and cortical bone adaptations, we will consider Roman life in these two settlements, exploring the factors that influenced their acquisition of trauma, treatment decisions, and the development of long-term mobility consequences. The injuries were typically well-healed and may be linked to certain activities (e.g., transhumance, quarrying). There is generally little evidence for functional complications following trauma, but preliminary findings indicate important changes in Roman social roles associated with older age groups. The insight gained from these Roman contexts can tell bioarchaeologists much about life, healing, and recovery in the past, while also illuminating and informing modern approaches to orthopedic injuries and trauma recovery.
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 19th, 2022: DR. LINDSAY AMUNDSEN-MEYER, DR. VIVIAN AYOUNGMAN
Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, University of Calgary and Old Sun Community College
Learning from the Land: Archaeological Excavations at EePf-54 (2020-2022)
EePf-54 is located on the Siksika Nation at Sooyohpawahkoyi (Blackfoot Crossing), an important place in the Siksika cultural landscape. At this place on the Bow River, trails meet, the river can be forded, and numerous important historical events unfolded. The archaeological record from EePf-54 is remarkably rich, a testament to the importance of this place. Excavations over two field seasons have revealed evidence of human occupation intermittently over the last at least 3,500 years, and potentially for as much as 10,000 years, at a location that was the confluence of trails in the Precontact travel network and is associated with several culturally important landmarks. The remarkable duration of occupation at EePf-54 and the rich archaeological record here is a testament to the importance of this place in the cultural landscape. This talk will explore the results of excavations at EePf-54 in 2020 and 2022 and discuss next steps for this important partnership.
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 16th, 2022: KYLE FORSYTHE
Curator of Archaeology, Royal Alberta Museum
How Materials Come to Matter: Exploring Lithic Value within the Tuniit (Paleo-Inuit) Occupation of Amittuq, Nunavut.
Lithic artifacts have long been employed as key components in reconstructions of Tuniit (4800 – 600 BP) culture history in the Eastern Canadian Arctic. However, little of this work has considered the potential affective roles of lithic raw materials, and how their social importance may have emerged and changed as part of situated landscape practices. In this paper, I argue that engagement with Inuit oral history can facilitate historically specific explorations of lithic value. While raw materials vary between ancestral Inuit and Tuniit archaeological assemblages, Inuit maintain intimate knowledge of all elements of the Amittuq (northern Foxe Basin) landscape, including the stone resources used by Tuniit communities. This specialized body of knowledge presents a unique set of possibilities for archaeological research. Inuit testimony can help us to better understand the unique capacities and potentials of lithic resources and the ways they acquired value as part of Tuniit communities. To this end, I discuss 1. the personal experiences in which these materials are considered by Inuit; 2. how the material properties of different stone types lend themselves to specific sets of practices; 3. how lithic materials acquire value as part of a wider topology of people and places.
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 18th, 2023: DR. JASON M. LABELLE
Director, Center for Mountain and Plains Archaeology, Department of Anthropology and Geography, Colorado State University
Moving On or Hunkering Down? Changing Perspectives of Folsom Settlement Systems from Colorado’s High Plains and Rocky Mountains
The Folsom archaeological complex (12,845-12,255 cal yr BP) is often presented as a classic, textbook example of grassland hunters at the end of the Pleistocene – highly mobile foragers pursuing bison over an immense territory. The data to test such assertions are especially rich in Colorado, where nearly 90 years of survey and excavation in this epicenter of the Folsom range reveals a more complicated seasonal mobility system. In this presentation, I review ongoing research at notable Folsom sites (including Lindenmeier, Barger Gulch, Mountaineer, and Reddin) to suggest that long-term occupations (likely over-wintering), re-occupation of favored areas, and in some cases, extensive use of local raw material sources, are more commonplace than expected. Rather than replacing one type of mobility system with another, I suggest that the Folsom archaeological record demonstrates remarkable variation in land use strategies by this ancient Indigenous society of western North America. This variation suggests human agency at the local group level rather than strict adherence to a homogenous “archaeological culture”.
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 15th, 2023: DR. NEIL PRICE
Department of Archaeology Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden
Archaeologies of the Ragnarök? A Sixth-Century Climate Disaster and its Viking-Age Legacies
There is now general agreement among geoscientists that in the year 536 CE, and for varying lengths of time thereafter, several parts of the northern hemisphere experienced a prolonged solar darkness. Caused by a layer of stratospheric debris from at least two, and possibly more, major volcanic eruptions occurring in the period 536-540, what is now known as the ‘dust veil’ blocked the sun’s warmth from reaching the earth. Numerous textual sources independently describe what was clearly a cultural disaster of some magnitude, with a range of catastrophic effects including crop failure, famine and civil strife. The impact was especially severe in the marginal environments of Scandinavia, leading to immense loss of life, before society gradually recovered (and took new forms) in the following centuries leading up to the Viking Age. Some scholars, including myself, have suggested that a distant memory of the dust veil lay behind the Norse myth of the Fimbulwinter, the three-year season of unending cold and darkness that marked the beginning of the Ragnarök, the end of the world. Drawing on both archaeology and text, this talk will explore this unprecedented climate disaster as it affected the peoples of late Iron Age Scandinavia.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 15TH, 2023: DR. ROLFE MANDEL
University Distinguished Professor & Director, Odyssey Archaeological Research Program University of Kansas
Bluefish Caves Revisited: A Geoarchaeological and Paleoenvironmental Assessment of a Potential Pre-Clovis Site in the Yukon Territory of Northwestern Canada
This presentation will focus on the results of recent investigations at Bluefish Caves, a cluster of four small rockshelters in the Yukon Territory of NW Canada. During the 1970s and 80s, Caves I, II, and III, which were excavated under the direction of Jacques Cinq-Mars, yielded faunal remains dating to ca. 30-10 ka contained in loess. Artifacts also were found in the loess. AMS 14C ages determined on cut-marked bones identified during a recent taphonomic analysis of the faunal assemblage suggest that humans occupied the site as early as 24 ka. However, the stratigraphic context of the artifacts and evidence of anthropogenic bone modification have been challenged. Hence, in 2019, the University of Kansas (KU) conducted limited archaeological testing at Cave III to gain a better understanding of site formation processes. Also, soil/sediment samples were collected for ancient DNA (sedaDNA) analysis to determine the feasibility of isolating and sequencing ancient genetic material of transitional late Pleistocene/early Holocene flora and fauna from subarctic loess. Also, Cave IV, which was not excavated by Jacques Cinq-Mars, was relocated. The entrance and interior of Cave IV are filled with sediment. In July 2022, KU tested the area in front of the cave, exposing a ~1-m-thick deposit of loess containing remains of horse, caribou, and other late-Pleistocene fauna. Many of the bones are being 14C dated, and sediment removed from the test units is being analyzed. Also, soil/sediment samples were collected for ancient DNA (sedaDNA) analysis, and ongoing micromorphological and sedimentological analyses of the loess will help us gain a better understanding of site formation processes and the spatial integrity of any cultural deposits found in Cave IV.
TUESDAY, APRIL 25TH, 2023: PAUL BAUMAN
Escape Tunnels, Extermination Camps, and Geophysics – Archaeology of the Holocaust
Relatively few Holocaust survivors are still alive. And of those, almost all would have been child survivors with different memories and different experiences than adult survivors. Since 2008, archaeology and geoscience have played an increasingly leading role in understanding and providing physical evidence of what transpired during the Holocaust. The non-intrusive science of geophysics, in particular, has been no less essential in guiding archaeologists than is radiology to a surgical team. This talk will follow archaeologists and Calgary geophysicists as they expose for the first time the killing facilities at one of the Operation Reinhard death camps; as they explore for an escape tunnel at the first Holocaust mass killing site in Lithuania; as they search for malinas (hiding places) in a work camp in the Vilna Ghetto; and as they investigate other sites whose history has been literally buried or forgotten. Of particular note on this 80th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, this talk will discuss the geophysical investigations that spurred the currently occurring excavations at Mila 18, the iconic site of the final command bunker of the 28-day revolt.
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 16TH, 2021: CAMILLA SPELLER
‘Paleoproteomics’: how the study of ancient proteins can enhance our understanding of ancient diet, subsistence and cuisine.
Over the last decades, advances in mass spectrometry have revolutionized the study of ancient proteins, providing new insight into past diet, subsistence and cuisine. Through a series of case studies, I will examine how ancient protein research can dramatically improve the resolution of paleodietary studies by distinguishing individual proteins from a variety of plant and animal species. I will discuss the exceptional protein preservation in archaeological dental calculus (mineralized plaque) and coprolites (preserved feces), and review how analyses of these materials can reveal evidence of consumed foodstuffs as well insights into digestive processes. I will explore how ancient proteins can help in reconstructing ancient cuisines by distinguishing mixture of plant and animal products prepared or cooked within a single ceramic vessel. Nevertheless, as ancient proteins are susceptible to post-excavation and laboratory contamination, I will highlight the challenges in differentiating true ancient proteins from modern contaminants.
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 20TH, 2021: DOUG STENTON
The View from Shore: New Perspectives on the Archaeology of the 1845 Franklin Expedition
The discoveries of the wrecks of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror hold tremendous promise for achieving a better understanding of events that led to the fatal outcome of the 1845 Franklin northwest passage expedition. Currently, however, the terrestrial archaeological record, much of it described in historical and oral historical records, remains the primary source of physical evidence about events that occurred between September 1846, when both ships became icebound off King William Island, and 1848, the year in which they were deserted and, based on available evidence, in which the remaining 105 expedition personnel died.
In 2008, the Government of Nunavut initiated new archaeological investigations of the Franklin expedition in collaboration with Parks Canada and other partners. This work has demonstrated the continued importance of the expedition’s archaeological record on King William Island and Adelaide Peninsula to reconstructing events. It has also introduced new avenues of inquiry and, in some cases, has challenged existing interpretations.
Dr. Douglas Stenton will discuss the aims and objectives of the on-going research and will highlight some of the key discoveries and results.
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 18TH, 2021: TED BINNEMA
“Cartographic Poetry: Five Indigenous Maps from 1801 and 1802”
In 1801 and 1802 several Siksika and Gros Ventre men drew maps of the northwestern plains for the Hudson’s Bay Company trader, Peter Fidler. Combined, these maps depict territory from central Alberta to New Mexico. In this presentation Ted Binnema will discuss these maps and how he and two colleagues, François B. Lanoë, and Heinz Pyszczyk, have been trying to extract as much evidence as possible from these fascinating maps. But he will also discuss the aesthetics of Indigenous maps. He will explain how and why, if Western maps might be compared with prose, Indigenous mapping might be considered “cartographic poetry.” While much of the knowledge possessed by the Indigenous People who created these maps will remain forever hidden from us, we can still admire the sophistication and beauty of Indigenous maps—maps which can even today help Albertans better appreciate the beauty of the Great Plains.
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 19TH, 2022: ERIC JOHANNESSON
In the Shadow of the Pharaohs: Mapping Tombs and Mortuary Practice in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings
Egypt’s Valley of the Kings with its impressive tombs of the pharaohs of the New Kingdom is perhaps one of the most famous archaeological sites in the World. What is less well known is that the majority of tombs in the Valley of the Kings are those of members of the royal court who were accorded the honor of spending eternity buried close to the pharaoh they had served in life. These tombs are small, often unfinished, and undecorated, and comprise more than half of the tombs in the entire valley. Most of these were discovered and partially excavated in the late 19th and early 20th century, only to be overlooked and later lost due to their small size and relatively sparse assemblages in comparison to the more elaborate pharaonic tombs. This presentation will discuss these tombs both in the context of the historical use of the Valley of the Kings as a burial ground for the New Kingdom elite, and their rediscovery and treatment in the modern era. In doing so recent mapping projects of the Valley will be explored and how these have engaged, incorporated, or sometimes omitted these smaller undecorated tombs and the consequent impact on the perception and interpretation of the Valley of the Kings itself.
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 16TH, 2022: GRANT ZAZULA
Frozen Ice Age Fossils from the Yukon
Amazing fossils of ice age mammals have been unearthed from Yukon’s frozen ground for over a century. In fact, Yukon Territory has yielded Canada’s richest and most plentiful record of ancient woolly mammoths, giant beavers, extinct camels and other wonderful beasts of the Pleistocene. From nearly complete, mummified animals, to some of the world’s most ancient DNA ever sequenced, new discoveries from the Yukon provide a unprecedented glimpses of ancient life during the ice age. Partnerships between scientists, Yukon First Nations and gold miners has resulted in a plethora of research on how climate change has effected large mammal communities and environments in the past and how our present day northern ecosystems came to be.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 16TH, 2022: DOUG BAMFORTH
Social Change, Social Aggregation, Pottery, and Pawnee/Arikara Ethnogenesis on the Central Great Plains
Native North America was transformed in the 13th through 15th centuries, perhaps nowhere more so than the central Great Plains, where people took up farming, new populations moved in, and communities coped with massive climatic fluctuation. Past and recent work at the Lynch site on Ponca Creek in northeastern Nebraska highlights this. Lynch was likely home to several thousand people at AD 1300 and it was one of a number of similar sites along the creek whose aggregate population may have exceeded 10,000 people. This presentation provides an overview of the site and then focuses on the ceramic assemblage from it. Setting the Lynch pottery in a larger regional context suggests, first, that it is very likely that people with very different cultural backgrounds lived side by side in it and, second, that, despite this diversity, there is evidence for the development of some kind of unifying set of social beliefs and practices. The larger sequence of change in the region leads from Lynch to the modern Pawnee and Arikara and the Lynch data suggest complex social roots for those nations.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 20TH, 2022: MARICA CASSIS
Medieval Archaeology in the Near East: Why it Matters
Medieval archaeology in the Near East is a field which includes both Byzantine and Islamic material remains. As such it is very important for helping to reconstruct the history of the region between the fifth and fifteenth centuries CE. However, medieval archaeology is often poorly understood, both in the public imagination and in scholarly discourse, because many of the remains of this period are small, domestic, rural, and very difficult to excavate. In fact, medieval archaeology has much more in common with prehistoric archaeology than with other types of archaeology, precisely because it is not – surprisingly – characterized by monumental architecture. However, understanding these small-scale remains helps us to create a more nuanced view of different parts of the Near East – one that illustrates and explains various important processes such as climate change, ruralization, and the evolution of society from Byzantine to Islamic. In this presentation, I will discuss medieval archaeology in Turkey particularly through my experiences working as a field archaeologist in central Anatolia.
MARCH 18th (Calgary Public Library – Central Location, Patricia A. Whelan Room) @ 7:30 pm:
Chris Jass, Royal Alberta Museum
Beneath the Surface: Bison, Lakes, and Public-influenced Research in Alberta
Research on the Quaternary palaeontological record in Alberta takes many forms, ranging from prospecting in gravel pits to excavating cave deposits. As a result of public inquiries, efforts to further understand the late Quaternary history of Alberta has taken on a new, surprising direction. Prospecting for fossils in modern Alberta lakes is revealing a complex faunal record that spans the last 10,000 years. These records highlight palaeoenvironmental changes in the mid-Holocene and provide insight into the faunal history of areas of Alberta with otherwise sparse Quaternary fossil records.
APRIL 15th (Calgary Public Library – Central Location, Patricia A. Whelan Room) @ 7:30 pm:
Paul Bauman , Advisian
Extermination Camps, Escape Tunnels, and Geophysics – Archaeology of the Holocaust
As we move past the 75th anniversaries of the liberation of the more than 3000 ghettos, concentration camps, and extermination camps in German held territories of World War II, fewer survivors are alive to provide first person information and testimonies. Scientific field methods, including geophysical surveys in support of archaeological investigations, are becoming increasingly important tools to understanding the genocidal events that occurred from 1939 to 1945. This talk will follow the geophysical exploration of three of the most horrific of these sites where three daring and ingenious mass escapes took place. At the Sobibor extermination camp in Poland, geophysicists and archaeologists used technology to rediscover the architecture of the Camp, locate the gas chambers, and identify at least one escape tunnel. At the Czarist era Fort IX in Kaunas, Lithuania, using testimonies from escapees, field notes from limited archaeological surveys carried out in the 1960’s, aerial imagery, and geophysical surveys, the mass burials were identified and delineated. And in the Ponar extermination site, also in Lithuania, geophysics was used to identify and delineate the largest of the mass burials, and to discover a 32 meter escape tunnel that had previously been dismissed as a myth.
FEBRUARY 19th, 2020
Michael Parker-Pearson, Institute of Archaeology, University College London
Stonehenge: New Discoveries
In the last 15 years there has been a transformation in our knowledge about this iconic and mysterious stone circle. Not only have new excavations revealed unexpected discoveries but a battery of scientific methods has been applied to the monument, its landscape and its artifacts. New discoveries about Stonehenge are being made almost continuously, making research into its mysteries a roller-coaster ride for archaeologists and scientists.
JANUARY 15th, 2020
Genevieve LeMoine, The Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum-Bowdoin College
On the Edge of the North Water: Cultural Contact at the Gateway to Greenland
Foulke Fjord, in northwestern Greenland lies at the northern end of the North Water polynya, an area of open water that forms annually in the sea ice at the northern end of Baffin Bay that supports a rich and diverse community of marine life, from whales to sea birds. This ecological hotspot has attracted human inhabitants for the last 4500 years. In this presentation I will present the results of three seasons of research at one site in this region, Iita (Etah), on the north shore of the fjord. Historically Iita was an important nexus of cultural contact between Inughuit and Euro-American explorers, as well as Inuit migrants from Baffin Island led by the shaman Qitdlarsuaq. A remarkable sequence of discreet stratigraphic levels also reveal earlier occupations, including both late Dorset paleo-Inuit and pioneering Thule. In addition to shedding light on key episodes of cultural contact in this region, Iita is also a bellwether of sorts for archaeological sites in the Arctic as even in this northerly location diminished sea ice has accelerated erosion.
NOVEMBER 20th, 2019
Bill Perry, Parks Canada
Archaeological Resource Management in a post wildfire environment: Waterton Lakes NP.
Waterton Lakes National Park is part of a rich cultural landscape that stretches back around ten thousand years primarily within the traditional territories of the Blackfoot Nation. The Kenow Wildfire of 2017 has presented a unique opportunity for archaeological research in the Park. The wildfire cleared out the ground cover, allowing exceptional visibility of the land surface.
Parks Canada has put together a team of archaeologists for a 5-year project to record and research the new finds that come to light. Initial site survey results have uncovered an unprecedented degree of archaeological visibility focused on the last 1000 years. This presentation highlights archaeological research and engagement with the surrounding indigenous nations, communities, local landowners and interested public.
Excavation and core sampling of select archaeological sites are planned for the coming field season that afford potential to report on the complete regional human history time frame within the park with a focus on environmental/climate change and past fire history research.
OCTOBER 16th, 2019
Jeremy Leyden, University of Calgary
Recent Archaeological Investigations into the Precontact Bison Hunting Complex Along Lower Jumpingpound Creek
As a result of archaeological research into the effects of the 2013 southern Alberta floods, a spectacular bone bed associated with a previously unrecorded buffalo jump was identified along the banks Jumpingpound Creek. Investigations into this locality have revealed it to be at the heart of a substantial late precontact/protohistoric period bison hunting complex typified by kill deposits, drive structures, campsites, processing areas and related peripheral features. At the same time, this locality appears to be a named place associated with the oral traditions of local First Nations and which occurs in the context of a variety of natural, historical, traditional and archaeological phenomena germane to the understanding of its importance. This talk will discuss the findings of nearly four years of research at this location; work that was undertaken through a combination of professional and academic programs and which continues to progress.
SEPTEMBER 18th, 2019
Jon Driver, Simon Fraser University
Late Pleistocene people and environments at Tse’K’wa
Tse’K’wa (also known as Charlie Lake Cave) is located in northeastern British Columbia, Canada, and contains a deep sequence of deposits that span the last 12,500 years. As well as being a key to the cultural sequence in northeastern BC and northwestern Alberta, the site also contains tens of thousands of well-preserved animal bones that document changing environmental conditions and a range of human behaviours, including hunting, fishing, food storage, and ceremonial. This presentation will focus on the early period at the site, and will include new data from biomolecular studies of the animal bones.
APRIL 17th, 2019
Mobility, Material Culture, and Metis Identity: A Comparison of 19th Century Wintering Camps in the Canadian West
Relationships between artifact assemblages and cultural identities are complex and difficult to disentangle. The Canadian west during the 1800s provides an interesting historical and archaeological case study that has potential to shed light on the dynamics of settlement, material culture, and the mobile nature of Métis peoples. Based originally in the Red River Settlement, some of the Métis began to expand west after 1845, forming interconnected wintering communities to participate in winter bison hunting. These wintering communities were almost entirely inhabited by Métis families, so the assemblages from wintering sites present a test case to examine the day to day material culture of the Métis hunting brigades during the mid- to late- 1800s. In this paper, I examine patterns from previous and new excavations of Métis wintering sites in Alberta and Saskatchewan to explore how Metis communities balanced the mobility of buffalo hunting with the need for a protected home base during the difficult prairie winters. I compare assemblages across sites and make inferences about the complex nature of Métis identities during the nineteenth century, including the relationship between mobility, family, and the economics of buffalo hunting.
MARCH 20th, 2019
The MacHaffie Site and its Place in NW Plains Archaeology
The MacHaffie Site (24JF4), located in SW Montana, has perhaps the best name recognition, while being the most poorly documented multi-component archaeology resource in the NW Plains. It is also a site with connections to the University of Calgary. Both Dr. Richard G. Forbis and Leslie B. Davis conducted excavations at the site — the former in 1951 and the latter from 1989 sporadically until 2010. Although generally thought of as a Folsom campsite, the earliest and best documented occupations appear to be those of Scottsbluff. The presentation will discuss recent efforts to fully catalogue and analyze the entire MacHaffie collection, the site geomorphology, and the current interpretations of that work.
FEBRUARY 20th, 2019
Entanglements of Conquest: The Chimú conquest of the Casma at Pan de Azúcar de Nepeña, Nepeña Valley, Peru
From the Romans to the Inca, empires have conquered regional ethnic groups via a multitude of direct and indirect tactics to gain territory and control resource extraction. Collective agency plays a key role in structuring interactions between locals and foreign intruders that cause transformations in material culture and cultural practices of both groups. These interactions are complex and dynamic in nature as locals respond in varying and multiple ways to episodes of conquest in relation to their own political and economic agendas, as well as how they strategize to make sense of these encounters. I am specifically interested in how locals responded immediately after conquest. In what ways were the responses dictated by the foreign states’ means of conquest, as well as indigenous agendas and values? How are negotiations between local and foreign elites and administrators at the moment of conquest reflected culturally and biologically? Are certain mediums more expressive and susceptible to change than others during this time of socio-political stress? This research focuses on these shifting and fluid responses through examining the Chimú conquest of the Casma at Pan de Azúcar de Nepeña, located in the Nepeña Valley, Peru, during the Late Intermediate Period (A.D. 1000 – 1400). Through an analysis of the cultural (architecture, ceramics, mortuary practices) and biological (skeletal analysis) data at Pan de Azúcar de Nepeña I examine the relationship and interactions between the Chimú and Casma before, during, and after conquest as well as how the Casma responded in varying ways to Chimú conquest.
JANUARY 16th, 2019
Dr. Elizabeth H. Paris, University of Calgary
Ancient Maya Lithic Technology in the Jovel Valley of Chiapas, Mexico
The ancient Maya are widely recognized for their extensive development of chipped stone tool technology. The objects they created range from elaborate ceremonial objects to the tools that supported the everyday activities of ordinary households. This presentation examines the domestic lithic assemblages from sites in the Jovel Valley of highland Chiapas, which forms the western frontier of the Maya culture area. Located within a mountainous karstic plateau, valley residents had access to multiple sources of high-quality, fine-grained chert, and created diverse assemblages of formal and informal tools. Chert tool production and use in the Jovel Valley was particularly associated with the political center of Moxviquil, where assemblages emphasize weapons production, maguey fiber processing, woodworking, and cross-valley exchange. I also examine the significance of imported obsidian blades and chert spear points within the Jovel Valley, in the context of a robust, local production sphere.
NOV 21st, 2018
Assistant Professor, University of Saskatchewan and Director of the shíshálh Archaeological Research Project
T’i s-tsitsiy-im-ut: the shíshálh Archaeological Research Project (sARP)
This talk will discuss the results of the shíshálh Archaeological Research Project, a long-term collaborative project based in Sechelt, BC. SARP has uncovered the most elaborate pre-contact burials yet known in Canada, with one individual interred with over 350,000 ground stone beads. This talk will discuss previous fieldwork activities and outline the future directions of the project. Topics will include coastal survey, shell midden excavation, public archaeology, museum exhibitions, landscapes of meaning, community-based research, and mortuary archaeology.
OCT 17th, 2018
Ancient Beringians and the Colonization of the Americas
Recent genetic analyses of two buried infants from Alaska reveal a previously unknown group of people, called Ancient Beringians, that play an important role in illuminating the early prehistory of Native Americans. These and other recent genetic analyses have transformed our understanding of the peopling of the Americas. This presentation explores this new genetic framework, rigorously connected to archaeology and paleoecology of Siberia, Beringia and Northwestern North America. The timing of migrations, the routes used, including the interior Ice-Free-Corridor and coastal route (or both), and the later genetic diversification of Native Americans are discussed. The integration of these sciences provides for novel models of this first colonization of the Americas.
SEPT 19th, 2018
Jack Brink, Curator Emiritus, Royal Alberta Museum
Archaeological Survey, and a UNESCO World Heritage Nomination, for Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park.
Writing-on-Stone Park (WOS) is home to one of the largest collections of rock art (petroglyphs and pictographs) in North America. Spread over a vast region of the Milk River valley and tributary coulees are thousands of carved and painted rock art images. So important is this rock art and associated landscape that the Park area has been proposed for designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This nomination is currently under consideration. In anticipation of the nomination Alberta Parks acquired two new parcels of land located along the Milk River to the west of the current park. In total some 14 quarter sections were acquired. I volunteered to conduct an initial archaeological review of these new lands in order to give Parks a better understanding of heritage resources on their property. In this talk I will discuss the results of these surveys, including new discoveries of rock art, historic graffiti, archaeological and historic sites. In addition, I will provide an inside look at the UNESCO nomination process that took 13 years to complete.
APRIL 18, 2018
Pete Dawson University of Calgary
Using Reality Capture Technologies to Monitor the Brooks Aqueduct National/Provincial Historic Site
The Brooks Aqueduct National/Provincial Historic site contains the remains of a 3.2-kilometer-long reinforced concrete flume designed to carry water east from Lake Newell, in eastern Alberta. It was built between 1912 and 1914 and it’s located to the northeast of the lake and just east of the town of Brooks. The site is significant due to its civil engineering achievement and because of its unusual design, materials, sheer size and scale, built in a time when the use of reinforced concrete construction was still in its early stages.
During its operating life, the Brooks Aqueduct suffered from the effects of a series of design flaws. The removal of a 122m section to permit the construction of Range Road 142 has also had deleterious effects in the structure. In response to these deficiencies, the Province has engaged in numerous interventions to ensure the preservation of the Aqueduct.
Reality capture technologies, such as terrestrial and airborne LIDAR, provide a means for a more thorough monitoring and tracking of past interventions and their success, as well as identifying present and future areas of concern. A particularly innovative and important component of the project is the proposed use of Change Detection Analysis to monitor processes that may be negatively impacting the Brooks Aqueduct. Specifically, the digital data from the Brooks Aqueduct will be used to explore how Change Detection Analysis can accurately identify and track natural and human-related processes, as well as their potential impacts on specific sections of the structure over time.
In this presentation, I explore how we are using 3D digital data to develop advanced heritage monitoring programs for historic structures and sites in the Province of Alberta, with specific reference to the Brooks Aqueduct Project.
MARCH 21st, 2018
Max Friesen, University of Toronto
Inuvialuit Architecture: The Archaeology of Cruciform Houses in the Mackenzie Delta
Within the great range of house types occupied by Northern peoples in the 19th century, a few stand out due to their size, complexity, or unusual form. One of the most spectacular is the cruciform semi-subterranean house occupied by Inuvialuit in the Mackenzie Delta region, Northwest Territories. These are known through traditional knowledge and ethnohistoric sources as very large, carefully constructed driftwood-framed houses with three alcoves bordering a central floor area. Over the past 60 years, several archaeologists have excavated portions of cruciform houses, leading to gradually increasing knowledge about them. However, due to their great size, deep burial, and problems with permafrost, it has been difficult to excavate one fully. In this paper, I report on the recent excavation of two large cruciform houses at the site of Kuukpak on the East Channel of the Mackenzie River. Following a brief overview of the ethnohistoric record, I will interpret aspects of the houses’ architectural form, construction techniques, episodes of rebuilding, and change over time.
FEB 21st, 2018
Presenter: Dr. Robert Losey, University of Alberta
Title: Domesticating the Arctic: Living with Dogs and Reindeer in the Yamal Region of Russia
Dogs are reindeer and iconic domestic animals of the Eurasian North, yet little is actually known about their long-term histories with people in this vast region. This presentation will describe several ongoing projects in the Yamal region of the Russian Arctic, including studies of the advent of dog sledding, and artifact evidence for the domestication and harnessing of reindeer. The presentation will feature some of this region’s most spectacular archaeological sites, which have yielded the Arctic’s largest collection of dog remains, well preserved sleds and skis, and perhaps the earliest examples of reindeer harnesses.
JANUARY 17th, 2018
Presenter: Drs Trevor R. Peck and Caroline Hudecek-Cuffe, Archaeological Survey of Alberta
Title: The Archaeological Evidence for Painted Feather’s Pound
On December 20, 1809, North West Company fur trader Alexander Henry the Younger made a trip on horseback from the post at Fort Vermilion/Paint Creek House, which is located on the north bank of the North Saskatchewan River directly across from its confluence with the Vermilion River, to a Blackfoot camp and buffalo pound. Where was this Blackfoot camp and pound? Based on information from Henry’s journal we developed a model to delimit where the meeting between Painted Feather and Henry could have taken place. Then, to support this re-examination of the journal information and its relation to the topography of the area, we conducted an archaeological survey and excavation to produce physical evidence to support our proposed location of Painted Feather’s camp and pound.
NOV 15th, 2017
Presenter: Dr Sue Langley .
Title: Maryland Maritime Archaeology Program
Mallows Bay, The Ghost Fleet and Beyond On an ebb tide, nearly 100 skeletons of WWI-era wooden steamboats seem to rise from the waters of a small embayment on the Potomac River. This presentation will explain the history of these watercraft and how they ended up in Maryland and why they will be the focus of the first new National Marine Sanctuary in more than 20 years. While the centenary commemorations of WWI make this a timely endeavour, the area is steeped in history; much of it also represented in and around the bay.
OCT 18th, 2017
Presenter: Dr. Alan McMillan, Simon Fraser University
Title: Thunderbird and Whale: The Archaeology of Nuu-chah-nulth Whaling
Whaling was a central theme in the lives of the Nuu-chah-nulth people of western Vancouver Island. It featured heavily in not only their traditional economy but their art, ceremonies, and oral histories. This talk presents recent archaeological research in Barkley Sound, emphasizing evidence of ancient whaling, its development, and its persistence in Nuu-chah-nulth art and traditions today
SEPT 20th, 2017
Presenter: Dr. Craig Lee
Title: Ice Patch Archaeology in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
Periglacial alpine snow and ice is melting in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) and around the world in response to changing weather patterns. As it melts, some of this ancient ice is releasing an astonishing array of paleobiological and archaeological material, including trees, plants, animals, and insects, as well as rare and unique organic artifacts such as dart shafts, basketry, and other pieces of material culture. Consistent with the oral traditions of many tribal groups, the GYE ice patch record allows for the conceptualization of the alpine—in ancient times, at least—as an ecosystem in balance where humans and animals alike took advantage of a seasonally-enriched biome; however, much remains to be learned.
Ice patch resources are finite and may be lost in the coming decades. The exposure of ancient archaeological and paleobiological materials by the retreat of moisture-starved and heat-ravaged ice patches in the GYE is a tangible indication of climate change in the Rocky Mountain West, and the impacts transcend the divide between the cultural and natural world. The archaeological record demonstrates repeated use of ice patches by Native Americans for millennia. They were an important element of their sociocultural and geographic landscape.
A project sponsored by the Greater Yellowstone Coordinating Committee (GYCC) in 2013 resulted in the identification of over 450 prospective ice patches consistent with a posteriori criteria developed from observations at known ice patch archaeological and paleobiological sites in the GYE and elsewhere. Even more recently (2016), the ‘Camp Monaco Prize’ from the Buffalo Bill Historical Center’s Draper Natural History Museum, University of Wyoming’s Biodiversity Institute, and the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation enabled a group of scientists from the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research at the University of Colorado, the Institute on Ecosystems at Montana State University, and the US Geological Survey to undertake an intensive analysis of GYE ice patches, including a coring effort and field survey.
Presenter: Meaghan Peurmaki-Brown
Title: Ancient Maya Settlement and Resource Development in East-Central Belize
Abstract: From 2014-2016, the Stann Creek Regional Archaeology Project (SCRAP) initiated Phase I Reconnaissance and Phase II Testing at the ancient Maya centre of Alabama, nestled up against the Maya Mountains in the Cockscomb region of the Stann Creek District of east-central Belize. First located by the Stann Creek Project in the 1970s, and later investigated by the Point Placencia Archaeological Project in the 1980s, the epicenter of the site was found to have been rapidly constructed during the late facet of the Late Classic and into the Terminal Classic (ca. 750-900 AD). In 2014, SCRAP members returned to the site in order to investigate settlement development at Alabama and its possible relationship to local resource extraction and trade. Phase I and Phase II had three goals: 1) to assess the Alabama epicenter for the first time since archaeological investigations in the 1980s, 2) to initiate the first systematic settlement survey, surface collection, and test excavations of residential zones in the area, and 3) to begin assessment of local, mesolocal, regional, and exotic resource development and use by the ancient Maya of the area. This presentation will introduce the audience to Alabama; discuss our current “boomtown” research framework and preliminary results; and outline our proposed plans for relational geography research in the larger Cockscomb region.
Presenter: Dr. Elizabeth Arnold
Title: Bringing the Food to the City: How stable isotope analyses of animal remains can address this question.
Abstract: Stable isotope analyses are well-established in archaeology as a means to determine diet, reconstruct environments and examine herd management strategies of domestic animals. Mobility, trade and exchange of animals both within a local economic system and regional context can be determined. In this paper, consideration is given to the question of how isotopic techniques can be utilized to identify animal management practices in cities in the Near East. This question will be explored with data from several urban contexts in the Southern Levant, (Israel).
Presenter: Michael C. Wilson
Title: Animal Landscapes and Animal Monuments of Plains First Nations, from Antler Piles to Medicine Wheels
Abstract: A transformational model suggests that nomadic Northwestern Plains aboriginal peoples expressed the same fundamental symbols through varied media in the cultural landscape. The linked concepts of circle and power axis reflected the structure of the cosmos. Acknowledging their role as a part of that cosmos, people were obligated to assist in its maintenance. Structures such as medicine wheels, antler piles, stone cairns, medicine lodges, and ribstones were linked through animal ceremonialism to an ongoing program of cosmic renewal that was not simply the “earth wisdom” or “primitive conservation” favoured by modern popular writers. Animals were thought to be unlimited in numbers and renewable as long as people undertook appropriate ritual. Failure of animals to return could have resulted from errors in ritual handling. This talk emphasizes findings about antler piles that were formerly present at several sites. It is argued that elk ritual became horse ritual, helping to obscure the former in the Historic period. Formal plans were elsewhere, too: the household plan also reflected the structure of the cosmos. The outer landscape was organized by extension from the household, prompting the illusion that although people moved regularly, the outer world remained much the same. Multiple ritual sites (including monuments) could be seen as iterations of a single “site” in a cyclic view of space. Monuments derived their power from their location; thus, they were “of” a site rather than “being” the site, and they tended to be treated as part of the natural world, not as separate from it. This worldview was actualized within a pattern of overlapping group territories (viewed as centres with radiating itineraries or vectors), cross-utilization of resources, and transient co-residence of linguistically diverse groups who could communicate readily through sign language.
Presenter: Dr. Barney Reeves & Dr. Margaret Kennedy
Title: Medicine Wheels and Ceremonial Landscapes: Building on Richard G. Forbis’s Pioneering Contributions
Abstract: Dick Forbis, Alberta’s first archaeologist, made many contributions to the archaeology of the Northwestern Plains, particularly in his ten years with the Glenbow Foundation (ca. 1955-1965). Among these were the recording, mapping and excavation of Alberta medicine wheels. However he, as well as other archaeologists in more recent years, focused on the medicine wheels themselves not the archaeological landscape in which they sit. The study and interpretation of these landscapes and the ceremonial stone feature sites contained therein are, in our opinion, critical to understanding medicine wheels as a whole.
This fundamental principle is illustrated in this talk based on our past four years of study at the Bull’s Forehead and Minor Medicine Wheel Complexes at and above the Forks of the Red Deer and South Saskatchewan rivers. We have found large scale ceremonial complexes, the largest identified to date in the Northern Plains. These extend for over 10km along and behind the valley edges containing thousands of ceremonial stone features sited and constructed only where the medicine wheels or focal reaches of the rivers are visible. They were places of pilgrimage, erected over a period of 500-1000 years by ancestral Gros Ventre, prior to their decimation by European diseases in the 1500s.
Presenter: Erik Johannesson
Title: Before the Khans: The Archaeology of the Xiongnu Empire in Mongolia (209 BC-200 AD)
Abstract: A prevailing view in anthropological and archaeological theory has been that nomadic societies are incapable of forming complex political polities that endure in the longue durée. Here, Dr. Johannesson challenges this view by presenting the results of over a decade of archaeological research on the Xiongnu Empire in Mongolia. According to Chinese texts, the Xiongnu Empire was formed when the charismatic leader Motun unified the nomadic steppe tribes of Mongolia and Siberia into a powerful confederacy that quickly emerged as a regional enemy of the Han Dynasty. The formation of this polity is identified archaeologically with sweeping changes in material culture, technology, and funerary customs. Drawing on fieldwork from Baga Gazaryn Chuluu in the north Gobi and Shombuuzin Belchir in the Altai foothills, this presentation will explore the archaeology of the Xiongnu Empire and how political centralization manifests in mortuary practice. Adopting a diachronic perspective, Xiongnu mortuary monuments will be discussed vis-à-vis preceding funerary traditions to illustrate that Xiongnu tombs represent a conspicuous inversion of previous customs. A scalar landscape approach will then be used to demonstrate how mortuary ideology was manipulated by the Xiongnu elite to incorporate local lineages of leadership into a broader Xiongnu political economy. Finally, the reopening of tombs in antiquity and osteological evidence of violent trauma will be discussed to illustrate that mortuary contexts formed important loci of Xiongnu state-craft, and arenas in which political ideologies were both imposed and contested.
Presenter: Bob Dawe and Dr. Marcel Kornfeld
Title: Nunataks and Valley Glaciers: the Icy Corridor
Abstract:The historic debate of the first peopling of the Americas has focused on two alternate routes of entry: a coastal route versus an ice-free corridor. The timing of this entry is generally regarded to coincide with Late Wisconsin glaciation, which at the very least left continental ice that still covered most of the north half of North America. The former option requires much of the west coast to be ice free, with boats used to navigate areas impossible to traverse by foot. The alternate option has the precondition of ice recession between the Cordilleran and Laurentide ice sheets, providing a terrestrial route of access along the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains for both humans and herbivores. While the pendulum has swung towards the coastal route, no smoking gun exists that will deliver a champion in this controversy. With this paper we would like to present a third option that requires neither the precondition of boats nor full glacial retreat: the Icy Corridor. In this model we question that the waning glacial conditions in the Late Wisconsin were an insurmountable obstacle for travel. It is not our intent to champion a new “earliest” route, but rather demonstrate the viability of this glacial landscape as a transportation corridor that had hitherto been characterized as a barrier.
Presenter: Dr. Michael Waters
Title: Archaeological and Genetic Evidence for the Late Pleistocene Peopling of the Americas
Abstract: Archaeological evidence accumulated over the last few decades and new genetic evidence are showing that the 80-year-old Clovis First model no longer explains the exploration and settlement of the Americas by humans at the end of the last Ice Age. Evidence from archaeological sites in North and South America are providing empirical evidence that people occupied the Americas by 15,000 years ago. Studies of modern and ancient genomes confirm this age estimate and tell us who these people were and where they came from. Together the archaeological and genetic evidence is rewriting our understanding of the First Americans.
February 17, 2016: From the Desert to the Plains: A Paleoethnobotanical Research Program
October 21, 2015: Recent Discoveries in the Sierra
de Atapuerca (Spain)
September 16, 2015: The Ninth Clan—Exploring Apachean Origins in the Promontory Caves, Utah
November 19, 2014: Archaeological resource management and the Nicaraguan trans-oceanic canal
October 15, 2014: Managing Chaos at the Okotoks Erratic.
November 20, 2013: Landscape Change and Human History of the Athabasca Glacier Area.
October 16, 2013: Small Stones and Big Buttes: Pebble Quarrying in the Misty Hills.
September 18, 2013: On ’til Ragnarok: Underwater Excavations at the Viking Settlement of Birka 2013