This week, archaeologists from around the world will come to St. John’s to share research findings and sample the rich archaeology of the province.
Memorial professor Dr. Lisa Rankin, who is organizing the 40th Annual Meeting of the Canadian Archaeological Association to be held at the Fairmont Hotel from May 16-20, says that in addition to Canadian representation among the about 400 participants, the conference is drawing considerable international attention. Scholars have registered from Greenland, Scandinavia, Spain, Netherlands, Ireland, the U.K. and Argentina.
One of the primary reasons for their interests, said Dr. Rankin, is the unique archaeology of Newfoundland and Labrador: “We have 9,000 years of prehistory here, and the lengthiest period of European settlement in North America.”
The conference will focus on the interplay between First Nations and European newcomers and settlers.
As well, the conference is drawing those who work in polar regions, because it will culminate in the establishment of an Arctic Archaeology Network.
“There are many people in many different countries who work on culture and prehistory in the north,” Dr. Rankin explained, adding that field work in any part of the north is made difficult by the remoteness and great cost of getting there and getting around. “This network will bring us together and give us a way to share information and coordinate our research.”
Several Memorial faculty members, including Dr. Rankin, are northern explorers. In recent years, Dr. Rankin has led Memorial students, as well as youth assistants from local Labrador communities, in excavating the most southerly Inuit settlements explored in Labrador. Her work is of great interest to the Labrador Métis Nation as it helps shed light on their history.
In addition to a full conference program, the visiting archaeologists will be treated to some of the province’s rich archaeological excavations. On Wednesday, May 16, an excursion to the Colony of Avalon at Ferryland is planned.
Following the conference on May 20, a tour will begin at the first permanent English settlement in Canada, established at Cupers Cove (now Cupids), Newfoundland in 1610. In the autumn of 1612, the colony’s first governor, John Guy, and 18 others sailed out of Cupers Cove and into Trinity Bay in an attempt to establish friendly relations with the Beothuk. During the voyage, the party visited eight Beothuk camps and shared a meal and exchanged gifts with a group of Beothuk in Bull Arm. Many of these camps have been located and excavations have been conducted at several. This day long trip will retrace the route.
That same day, Memorial archaeologist Dr. Jim Tuck will take a group of 40 to western Newfoundland to visit the Parks Canada Archaeological Sites of Port au Choix and l'Anse aux Meadows, and then across the Strait of Belle Isle to visit Red Bay.
The conference will include a public forum on Saturday, May 19, highlighting the latest findings in the Colonoy of Avalon at Ferryland. Drs. Jim Tucker and Barry Gaulton, both of whom have been involved that ongoing investigation, as well as Dr. Lisa Hodgetts from the University of Western Ontario whose been looking into the diet of colony residents, and Paul Berry of the National Currency Collection, Bank of Canada, will talk about the coinage found at the site.