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Michael Deal


Michael Deal



  • Email:
  • Phone: 709-864-8864
  • Office: QC 2010


  • PhD Simon Fraser, 1983


          Dr. Deal has had a diverse career in archaeology, which has taken him to Mexico, Guatemala, Cyprus, and multiple locations within Canada. His work is based on a continued interest in ceramic ethnoarchaeology, paleoethnobotany and, more recently, Canadian industrial and aviation heritage.
          As a PhD student, Dr. Deal wrote a dissertation on modern Maya pottery making based on ethnoarchaeological research carried out among the Tzeltal Maya, in the highlands of Mexico. This type of work continued in Cyprus, in 1993, where he produced ethnographic footage on modern Cypriot pottery making and researched the use of ethnographic data to explain past human behavior.
          Dr. Deal has also been involved in Canadian archaeology ever since he was still in graduate school, when he took part in work at the historical fur trading forts from Fort St. John and the Rocky Mountain House, and the Quatna and Namu precontact sites, in British Columbia. While working as a contract archaeologist out of Fredericton, New Brunswick, he conducted work in the Chiputneticook-St. Croix drainage system and started collecting pottery samples for residue analysis, which provided valuable information on precontact pottery use.
          Teaching began in 1985, with a stint at St. Mary's University, in Halifax, which led to the initiation of paleoethnobotanical research in Nova Scotia. This work resulted in the creation of a comparative modern seed collection of over 500 species, which is currently in use in the Paleoethnobotanical Laboratory, at Memorial University. Paleoethnobotanical research has since then been expanded to include a variety of sites throughout Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.
          As a Memorial University professor and researcher, Dr. Deal has been focusing on the pre- and postcontact history of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. Several of his initiatives have developed into long-term projects, which continue to see involvement from his graduate students.
          The Minas Basin Archaeological Project (commenced in 1988), sponsored by the Nova Scotia Museum, aims to reconstruct prehistoric patterns of land use and resource exploitation in the Minas Basin. This project applies a diverse methodology, including ceramic analysis, paleoethnobotanical investigations and thermoluminescence dating, and the cataloging of local museum and private collections. Investigations have been undertaken at the Davidson's Cove, Clam Cove, St. Croix, Castle Frederick and Boswell sites. After 1990, research and excavation have focused on the St. Croix site, in Hants County, a large village site that originally extended for more than half of a kilometer along the St. Croix river. This site was recently revisited by Cameron Milner for his MA thesis research.

Clam Cove
           An offshoot of the Minas Basin project began in 2004 in Scots Bay, Kings County, Nova Scotia with the involvement of the local community. Building on the notion of industrial heritage, this historical archaeology project aims to identify and investigate sites connected to the 19th century local milling and shipbuilding traditions. In 2013, Adrian Morrison completed his thesis on the excavation of a local saw mill.
          Current research interests in Nova Scotia are focused on the Boswell site, a precontact, deeply stratified site along the Annapolis River. This work has begun in 2011 with the involvement of the Nova Scotia Museum and the Mi'kmaq Rights Initiative.
          Since 2005, Dr. Deal has been pursuing a new interest in the history of aviation in Newfoundland. He has been collaborating with the Newfoundland and Labrador provincial government to develop policies that protect World War II aviation resources, including airfields, facilities and crash sites. Surveys and excavations have been undertaken with current doctoral candidate Lisa Daly. This work is ongoing.

Research Interests

Ethnoarchaeology, paleoethnobotany, ceramics, historical archaeology, industrial and aviation archaeology, Eastern Canada, Mesoamerica.

Graduate and Honors Students

Post-Doctoral Fellowships

Hartery, Latonia [2013] A Microscopic Approach to Prehistoric Plant Use.

Doctoral Dissertations (completed and in progress) 

Daly, Lisa [2008-] The Social Effects of North American Military Bases during World War II in Newfoundland and Labrador.

MacLeod-Leslie, Heather A. 2012 SANKOFA / Return and Get It: An Archaeological Exploration of Black Loyalist Identity and Culture in Nova Scotia. (Co-supervised with Pete Pope). 

Masters Theses (completed and in progress)

Campbell, John Andrew [2015] Migration of the Transitional Archaic Culture – Mu Awsami Saqiwe’k in the Maritime Provinces – Mi’kma’ki. 

Morrison, Adrian 2014 From Workplace to Home Space: Archaeology at the James M. Rogers Sawmill, Scots Bay, Nova Scotia (BhDc-16). 

Milner, Cameron 2014 Site Structure and Integrity at St. Croix: Functional Variability across Space and Time.

Pike, Kelly-Anne 2014 Bearing Identity: A Biocultural Analysis of Human Remains from Old Mission Point, New Brunswick. (Co-supervised with Vaughan Grimes).

Jalbert, Catherine 2011 A Lesson in Stone: Examining Patterns of Lithic Resource Use and Craft-learning in the Minas Basin of Nova Scotia.

Staplefeldt, Kora 2010 A Form and Function Study of Precontact Pottery from Atlantic Canada.

Pentz, Benjamin C. 2008 A River Runs Through It: An Archaeological Survey of the Upper Mersey River and Allains River in Southwest Nova Scotia.

Halwas, Sara 2006 Where the Wild Things Grow: A Palaeoethnobotanical Study of Late Woodland Plant Use at Clam Cove, Nova Scotia.

Lewis, Roger 2006 Pre-Contact Fish Weirs: A Case Study from Southwestern Nova Scotia.

O'Driscoll, Cindy M. 2003 The Application of Trace Element Geochemistry to Determine the Provenance of Soapstone Vessels from Dorset Palaeoeskimo Sites in Western Newfoundland. 

MacCarthy, Michelle 2003 Mobility, Migration and Projectile Point Diversity in the Late Paleoindian Period of the Far Northeast.

Hull, Stephen 2002 Tanite uet Tshinauetamin? A Trail to Labrador: Recent Indians and the North Store Site.

Laybolt, Dawn A. 1999 Prehistoric Settlement and Subsistence Patterns at Gaspereau Lake, Kings County, Nova Scotia.

Murphy, Brent 1998 Researching the Early Holocene of the Maritime Provinces.

McEachen, Paul J. 1996 The Meadowood Early Woodland Manifestation in the Maritimes: A Preliminary Interpretation.

Kristmanson, Helen 1992 The Ceramic Sequence for Southwestern Nova Scotia: A Refinement of the Petersen/Sanger Model.

Rutherford, Douglas E. 1989 The Archaic/Ceramic Period Transition in New Brunswick and Maine: An Analysis of Stemmed Biface Morphology.

Honors Essays

Kane, Dominique (2012). The Defensive Infrastructure of St. John's Harbour, 1939-1945: An Archaeological Perspective.

Loder, Candace (2010). A Paleoethnobotanical Analysis of Sediments from Three Woodland Period Shell Midden Sites in Port Joli, Nova Scotia.

Craig, Jennifer (2003). Nautical Archaeology in Newfoundland and Labrador: Its Development and Current Status.

Penney, Mark (2001). The Bird Cove Site and Dorset Palaeoeskimo Settlement/Subsistence Strategies on Newfoundland's Great Northern Peninsula.

Stewart, Daniel (2000). Amber Trade in the Bronze Age Mediterranean.

Walsh, Leslie (2000). Paleoethnobotany at Ferryland, Newfoundland: A Study of the Beothuk Features.

Pottle, David (1999). Tools of the Trade: A Comparative Analysis of Prehistoric Soapstone Quarrying and Vessel Manufacturing Technology in North America.

Sample Publications

Industrial and Aviation Archaeology

Deal, M. 2013 Aviation Archaeology in Newfoundland and Labrador. Canadian
Aviation Historical Society Journal 51(2):54-63.

Deal, M. 2010 Mills and Shipyards: The Industrial Heritage of Scots Bay. In Stories of Nova Scotia Archaeology, edited by P. Erickson and J. Fowler, pp. 113-124. Nimbus, Halifax. 

Deal, M. 2006 Aviation Archaeology of Pre-Confederation Newfoundland. In From Arctic to Avalon: Papers in Honour of Jim Tuck, edited by L. Rankin and P. Ramsden, pp. 139-156. BAR International Series 1507, Oxford. 


Deal, M. and Halwas, S. 2008 Late Prehistoric Plant Use in the Western Minas Basin Area, Nova Scotia. In Current Northeast Paleoethnobotany II, edited by J. Hart, pp. 173-182. New York State Museum, Albany. 

Deal, M. 2008 Paleoethnobotanical Research in the Maritime Provinces. North Atlantic Archaeology 1:1-23. 

Deal, M. 2005 Palaeoethnobotanical Research at Port au Choix. In Humans on the Landscape: Multi-disciplinary Studies at Port au Choix, edited by T. Bell, and M.A.P. Renouf. Newfoundland and Labrador Studies 20(1):133-159.  

Deal, M. and Butt, A. 2003 The Great Want: Current Research in Beothuk paleoethnobotany. In Hunter-gatherer archaeobotany: perspectives from the northern temporate zone, edited by S. L. Mason and J. G. Hather, pp. 15-27. Institute of Archaeology, University College of London, London.  

Ceramic Ethnoarchaeology

Deal, M. 2011 Microtradition and Agency in Domestic Pottery Production: An Ethnoarchaeological Perspective. In Archaeological Ceramics: A View of Current Research, edited by S. Scarcella, pp. 147-159. BAR International Series 2193, Archaeopress, London. 

Deal, M. 2007 An Ethnoarchaeological Perspective on Local Ceramic Production and Distribution in the Maya Highlands. In Pottery Economics in Mesoamerica, edited by C. Pool and G. Bey, pp. 38-59. University of Arizona Press, Tucson. 

Deal, M. 1998 Pottery Ethnoarchaeology in the Central Maya Highlands. University of Utah Press, Salt Lake 

Deal, M. 1985 Pottery Disposal in the Highland Maya Household: An Ethnoarchaeological Perspective. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 4:243-291 

Archaeological Theory and Method

Deal, M. 2008 Abandonment Patterning at Archaeological Settlements. In Archaeological Concepts for the Study of the Cultural Past, edited by A. Sullivan, 141-157. University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City. 

Deal, M. and Hagstrum, M 1995 Ceramic Reuse Behavior among the Maya and Wanka: Implications for Archaeology. In Expanding Archaeology, edited by J. M. Skibo, W. H. Walker and A. E. Neilsen, pp. 111-125. University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City. 

Precontact Archaeology of the Northeast

Deal, M. 2013 Boswell Site Archaeological Project 2012. Archaeology in Nova
Scotia: 2012 News 4:24-35.

Deal, M., Rutherford, D., Murphy, B. and Buchanan, S. 2006 Rethinking the Archaic Sequence for the Maritime Provinces. In The Archaic of the Far Northeast, edited by D. Sanger and M. A . P. Renouf, pp. 253-284. University of Maine Press, Orono. 

Deal, M. 2002 Aboriginal Land and Resource Use in New Brunswick during the Late Prehistoric and Early Historic Period. In Northeast Subsistence-Settlement Change D. 700-1300, edited by J. P. Hart and C. B. Rieth, pp. 321-344. New York State Museum Bulletin 496, Albany

Deal, M., Morton, J. and Foulkes, E. 1991 The Role of Ceramics among the Hunter-Gatherers of the Maine-Maritimes Region. In Prehistoric Archaeology in the Maritime Provinces: Past and Present Research, edited by M. Deal and S. Blair, pp. 171-195. Council of Maritime Premiers, Fredericton.  

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