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Vol 40  No 1
August 9, 2007


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Back to Twillingate
by David Sorensen

Memorial’s archaeologists have been uncovering data in Twillingate this summer. (Photo by Patty Wells)

Memorial’s archaeologists spent a month in Twillingate this summer, and uncovered a raft of data that could lead to further field work.

Directed by Dr. Priscilla Renouf, Canada Research Chair in North Atlantic Archaeology in the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, the team dug a series of test pits in the area that showed detailed evidence of habitation by various pre-contact peoples.

The team of four students was led by site supervisor and archaeology PhD student Patty Wells. She said the area has significant archaeological potential.

“Twillingate is similar to Port au Choix regarding the resources that would have been available to pre-contact peoples,” said Ms. Wells, adding there was evidence of Paleo-Eskimo sites, including from the Groswater and Dorset groups, and some Maritime Archaic in the Twillingate area.

“We knew this was intensely occupied, similar to Port au Choix.”

The huge populations of seals in the area were one reason, she added.

One site is in an undisturbed area with evidence of structures that has potential for more excavation, said Ms. Wells.

Despite the area’s huge potential for archaeological research, there hasn’t been a serious dig in the area since the 1960s, she said. With the Provincial Archaeology Office showing an interest in defining sites in the area, Dr. Renouf’s team took up the challenge of conducting digs in the area.

Dr. Renouf and Dr. Trevor Bell, Department of Geography, have been doing considerable research on underwater archaeological sites – locations submerged when the glaciers from the last ice age melted. The research from this summer will be added to the database of known sites.

Ms. Wells said the team went back to relocate sites, define boundaries, assess how disturbed sites were from historic and modern activity, and assess sites for future projects. And, said Ms. Wells, if they happened to find new sites in the process, that would be a bonus.

The survey completed this summer is preliminary work to decide a research strategy.

The Twillingate Islands Tourism Association helped organize meetings last fall to present the research plans to the community. Ms. Wells said when their report is completed, they will return to Twillingate and present the findings to the community.

This is part of a summer-long series on research around the province. Have a story on a Memorial researcher working in rural Newfoundland and Labrador? Contact the Gazette at sorensen@mun.ca.

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