Archaeology News Archive (Academic Year 2012-13)

Students Present at the 2013 Aldrich Interdisciplinary Conference

Michelle Davies presented Changing Relations: Women's Work Brought to Light in 18th Century Labrador and won the Vice-President (Research) Prize, valued at $500 for future conference participation expenses

Chandra Young-Boyle presented Archaeological Cod Otoliths as Indicators of Palaeoclimate and Seasonality.

2013 Society for American Archaeology Annual Meeting

Dr. Michael Deal attended the 2013 Society for American Archaeology's Annual Meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii. Here he is pictured visiting the USS Arizona Memorial.

After the SAA meetings Dr. Pete Whitridge visited the Mauna Kea Adze Quarry Complex on the island of Hawai'i, the largest prehistoric quarry in the Pacific. At an elevation of 3800 m, near the volcano's summit, the complex was in use from about AD 1100-1800 and includes debris from the manufacture of hundreds of thousands of basalt adzes, such as the enormous tailings pile in the background here.

For more information see:

  • Bayman, James M. and Jadelyn J. Moniz Nakamura 2001. Craft specialization and adze production on Hawai'i Island. Journal of Field Archaeology 28:239-252.
  • Mills, P. R., Lundblad, S. P., Smith, J. G., McCoy, P. C., & Nalemaile, S. P. 2008. Science and sensitivity: a geochemical characterization of the Mauna Kea Adze Quarry Complex, Hawai'i Island, Hawaii. American Antiquity 73:743-758.

MUNArch Golden Trowel Award

Dr. Barry Gaulton, Dr. Vaughan Grimes, and Dr. Pete Whitridge received Golden Trowel awards from the undergraduate student society, MUNArch, in recognition of their support of MUNArch and their overall contributions to the undergraduate experience at Memorial University.

Dr. Lisa Rankin awarded Faculty of Arts Dean's Award for Graduate Supervision

Dr. Lisa Rankin was recently awarded the 2013 Faculty of Arts Dean's Award for Graduate Supervision. Above she is pictured with the student who nominated her for the award, Amelia Fay, one of Dr. Rankin's PhD candidates.

Dr. Peter Pope honoured by the Royal Society of Canada

Dr. Peter Pope has been honoured by the Royal Society of Canada (RSC) for his outstanding contributions to research and education by being named to the RSC's Academy of Humanities and Social Sciences. For the full story, please click here or for more information about Dr. Pope's research and a list of his publications, please click here for his departmental page.

Department of Archaeology Speaker Series: 21 March 2013

Dr. Michael Parker Pearson (Professor of British Later Prehistory, UCL Institute of Archaeology) (March 21st-22nd: FABS Talk to be held on March 22nd in AA-1043 at 4pm)

Title: Stonehenge: new discoveries

Stonehenge is one of the world's best known but most enigmatic monuments from prehistory. From 2003 archaeologists have carried out a major project to find out more about this mysterious stone circle, not only by digging at Stonehenge but also by investigating the prehistoric remains in the area around it. Among their discoveries are a large settlement near Stonehenge, thought to be the builders' camp, a new stone circle 'Bluestonehenge', and the remains of people buried at Stonehenge. Recent scientific developments are now revealing new insights into the lives of the people themselves, many of whom travelled long distances from across Britain. Some of the megalithic stones were also brought long distances, from over a hundred miles away in Wales, and the study of where they came from is also shedding new light on the purpose of this remarkable structure.

Department of Archaeology Speaker Series: 27 March 2013

Dr. Giovanna Vitelli (Director of the University Engagement Programme, The Ashmolean Museum) (March 27th-28th: FABS Talk to be held on March 28th in QC-4028 at 4pm)

Title: Mutual, I'm Sure: Indian and English Reinterpretations of the Other in Early Colonial New England

After the first wave of English settlement in the Massachusetts Bay Colony the early 1600s, remnant Algonquian-speaking bands that chose to dwell in proximity to their English neighbours managed tenuously to balance independence with acculturation. Even though "converted" to Protestantism and pressured to conform to English cultural norms, Indians continued to make sense of their rapidly changing world in traditional ways, enabling them to make necessary reinterpretations and integrations of outside knowledge. English settlers' version of coexistence also arose from traditional frames of reference based on notions of poverty and social belonging, and resulted in bitter misunderstandings.

In this talk I will give examples of differences in Indigenous and English concepts of kinship and class, obligation, reciprocity, and well-being, using anthropology, social history, and material culture to suggest alternative readings of the evidence, and to enrich our understanding of the complexities of early colonial coexistence.

Department of Archaeology Speaker Series: 5 April 2013

Dr. Manuel R. González Morales (Instituto Internacional de Investigaciones Prehistóricas de Cantabria, Universidad de Cantabria) (FABS talk to be held on April 5th in QC-4028 at 4pm)

Title: The human response to the global climatic change in a coastal zone: the case of the transition to the Holocene in Cantabrian Spain (10.000-5.000 cal BC)

Our current research project aims to define the responses of human societies in the Cantabrian coast (Northern Spain) to climatic change across the Pleistocene-Holocene transition, trying to precisely correlate the environmental modifications, controlled through the variations in water temperatures as recorded in marine shells, with the changes in technologies and in economic practices developed by coastal populations. The presence of shell midden deposits in the archaeological sites of this period, already dug or currently in process of excavation with modern techniques, offers an optimal databas for this task.

Firstly, we want to establish a reference sequence dating shells, bones and charcoal to get more refined chronometric resolution for the period, as a basis for a regional framework of occupations and related climatic events.

A second goal is to monitorize the variations of marine paleotemperatures through the variations in oxygen isotopes in shells, trying to establish possible seasonal patterns of shellfish collecting using this same indicator. Last, we want to correlate this variable with the modifications in lithic and osseous technology and in the activities undertaken by these human groups, controlling them also through the functional analysis of non-conventional lithic or bone industries, and shells used as tools, two research lines revealed as very productive in former works of our group. The result will allow us to accept or reject the initial hypothesis of the dependence of the variations of social and economic behaviour of the Mesolithic groups in the area on the global climatic change.

Visiting Researcher: Ricardo Gutiérrez Aguilar

Ricardo Gutiérrez Aguilar (Technische Universität zu Berlin – IFS-CSIC) works within the methodological perspectives of Epistemology, Metaphysics and Theory of Knowledge, with a focus in Philosophy of History. An attempt to approach the peculiar ontological and epistemological characteristics which are attributed to German Enlightenment (Aufklärung) Philosophy regarding its notion of historical fact and historical experience was the aim of his PhD project. As a paradigmatic case to be studied in his dissertation he uses the reception in German Thought of the specific event of the French Revolution and through the works of Immanuel Kant, Friedrich Schiller and G.W.F. Hegel. The problems and hermeneutics of material culture as facts, events or actions from an epistemological point of view (R.G.Collingwood) are among its present academic concerns.

He's been working under the tutorship of Prof. Dr. Roberto R. Aramayo and Prof. Dr. Concha Roldán in CSIC (National Research Council - Spain) within the frame of successive research projects and recently in Berlin under direction of Professor Herr Thomas Gil (Technische Universität zu Berlin)


Come to the GSU Boardroom on the second floor of Feild Hall at 4PM to hear about the research being conducted by our second year MA students and past graduates.


Corey Hutchings - March 8th "Japanese Occupation and Allied Liberation of Kiska Island, Alaska"

Kiska Island is part of the Rat Island group of the western Aleutians. In 1942 the Japanese military captured Kiska, eventually posting near 10,000 soldiers to the island. From 1942-43, these soldiers focused on reinforcing and fortifying the island, heavy Allied bombing and threats of invasion lead to the Japanese abandonment of the island. Subsequent invasion of the island and extended occupation by Allied forces have all left a distinct archaeological presence that is visible in artifacts, architectural remains and landscape features. Kiska's unique weather, remote location, and lack of local population had left the battlefield in near pristine condition. New risks to the integrity of Kiska's sites including increased ship traffic, looting, and changing environmental conditions, highlight the need for new approaches in dealing with the recent past and conservation of large scale artifacts.

Sarah Ingram - March 1st "'By Which So Much Happiness Is Produced': An Analysis of the Seventeenth-Century Tavern at Ferryland, Newfoundland"

The archaeological work being carried out at the Ferryland site provides important insight into early colonial life in British North America. This is in part due to the expanse of the site and the relatively undisturbed material culture of the Ferryland colony since its destruction in the late seventeenth century. The archaeological research being undertaken in conjunction with the Colony of Avalon Foundation serves to increase the knowledge about the colony, which in turn benefits the history of the province, the people of Ferryland, and the continuing excavations carried on by Memorial University.

The analysis of the Kirke tavern has the potential to enhance the project as a whole. Taverns were key social fixtures in early modern settlements, as they were both places of business, leisure and gathering. By better understanding the function and role of the Ferryland tavern through historical documentation, archaeological excavation, artifact analysis and comparison, a more holistic view of the seventeenth century settlement can also be obtained. This will be achieved by examining the structure itself, the products and services offered and carried out at the tavern, as well as the social relevance it held for the colonists at the settlement and visiting merchants and seamen alike.

Cameron Milner - February 22nd "Palimpsests of Community: Excavations at a Pre-Contact Site on the St. Croix River, Nova Scotia"

Expanding on previous work completed by Dr. Michael Deal during the 1990s, continued excavations at the St.Croix site seek to infer an understanding of the pre-contact site's size, complexity and level of disturbance and add to previous knowledge bases. Excavations have increased the known size of the site deep into the modern community and revealed in-tact portions of areas once thought irrevocably disturbed. Subsurface testing has recovered a wealth of heritage material, confirming previously established date ranges and pinpointing periods of increased occupation. Palaeoethnobatonical analysis works towards establishing models of subsistence across the site, allowing for a limited recreation of past diets in an area too acidic for the preservation of much faunal material. Through these investigations, a clearer picture of life at St. Croix during pre-contact times is being developed.

Kelly-Ann Pike - February 8th "Bearing Identity: A Biocultural Analysis of Human Remains from Old Mission Point (ClDq-1), New Brunswick"

The analysis of human remains recovered from the site of Old Mission Point in northern New Brunswick provides a means to explore the relationships between social and biological identities through a bioarchaeological perspective. Furthermore, in using a biocultural framework to inform this study, a discussion can be generated on how identities are formed, maintained, and altered over the life course, as well as upon death and subsequent burial. An examination of the ethnohistorical, archaeological and osteological materials pertaining to the site and greater Atlantic region helps elucidate the complex roles and identities pervasive within protohistoric Mi'gmaq culture.

Chandra Young-Boyle - February 15th "Unangan Fish Harvesting and Changing Climatic Conditions: Otoliths as Proxies for Site Seasonality and Palaeotemperature at Kiska Island, the Western Aleutians"

Through high resolution stable oxygen (δ18C) isotope analysis, fish otoliths serve as proxies for palaeoclimate conditions and season of site occupation. Otoliths are paired inner ear structures in bony fishes composed primarily of calcium carbonate; they develop in sequential layers in relative physiochemical equilibrium with the surrounding water. This natural tag quality is of interest to both fisheries biologists and archaeologists, as it allows for the reconstruction of seasonal patterns on a yearly and/or daily basis throughout the fish's lifetime. Through the analysis of otoliths from two Unangan midden sites on Kiska Island, in the western Aleutians, the aim of my research is to identify and discuss season(s) of site occupation and evidence of changing climatic conditions over time, based on the reconstruction of seasonal water temperature patterns. My presentation will focus on the methodological developments involved in this research and provide preliminary results.

CFI-LOF Grant Awarded to Dr. Vaughan Grimes with Dr. Penny Morrill (Dept. of Earth Sciences)

Dr. Penny Morrill, assistant professor in the Department of Earth Sciences, Faculty of Science, and co-investigator Dr. Vaughan Grimes, assistant professor in the Department of Archeology, Faculty of Arts, were jointly awarded $110,106 from the CFI for research tools that will advance research across many themes at Memorial University, including natural resources, culture and heritage, energy and the environment.

Housed in The Earth Resources Research and Analysis facility under the auspices of Memorial's Core Research Equipment and Instrument Training (CREAIT) network, this new equipment is critical to Dr. Morrill's research on sources of methane and other hydrocarbons on Earth and other planets. Similarly, it will enable Dr. Grimes to investigate the diets and movement patterns of human ancestors through analysis of archaeological and forensic tissues such as bone, teeth and hair. It will also support research at Memorial University related to ecosystem and environmental change (Dr. Susan Ziegler), mineral resources (Dr. Steve Piercey) and culture (Dr. Kristin Poduska).

For the full story please click here and for more information about Dr. Grimes' research, please click here.

Congratulations, Dr. Aaron Miller!

Congratulations to Dr. Aaron Miller (centre) who successfully defended his Ph.D dissertation on November 2nd.

Meet our Postdoctoral Students: Dr. Patty Wells

Funding: Canada Research Chair in North Atlantic Archaeology and the Research and Development Corporation of Newfoundland and Labrador

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Priscilla Renouf

Title: Groswater and Dorset Palaeoeskimo Technological Traditions in the Port au Choix National Historic Site, Northwestern Newfoundland.

My one-year postdoctoral project will involve the publication of results from my Ph.D research on the bone, antler and ivory tool making traditions of the Dorset Palaeoeskimo (ca. 2000-1200 years ago) at Phillip's Garden, a large site in the Port au Choix National Historic Site. I used the identification of osseous raw material sources, the spatial and temporal distribution of tool types, and the location where stages of their manufacture tool place to construct a profile of social life at the site and elsewhere. Furthermore, building on these results, I will now focus on an earlier and ancestrally related group called the Groswater who inhabited the same region of Newfoundland for 800 years prior to the arrival of the Dorset. I will investigate technological and social traditions through the examination of site locations, hunting and tool making practices and compare these to the Dorset. The ultimate aim of this research is to understand Palaeoekimo social life, and the decisions, traditions and innovations of those inhabiting Newfoundland, which is at the southern margin of their Arctic range

Members of the Department of Archaeology Attend the Canadian Association for Physical Anthropology (CAPA) Annual Meeting

Courtney Merner (M.A. student/First Author), presented along with Dr. Vaughan Grimes and Domino Carlos Salazar-Garcia (from the Research Group on Plant Foods in Hominind Dietary Ecology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology), on a presentation titled 'Reconstructing southeast Spanish Cooper Age migration: an isotopic analysis of the Camino del Molino mass burial' at this year's meeting held in Victoria, B.C.

Students and Faculty attend the 18th Annual Inuit Studies Conference at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.


Baffin island research featured in National Geographic

Adjunct Professor, Dr. Patricia Sutherland, is featured in
the November issue of National Geographic magazine for her work on Baffin Island.

**To read the full story "Vikings and Native Americans: Face-to-Face" click here. **

Dr. Sutherland's work was also recently featured on CBC's The Nature of Things with David Suzuki: "The new documentary film THE NORSE: AN ARCTIC MYSTERY follows Sutherland on her journey to prove that the early history between North America and Europe did not unfold the way the history books say it did." (Source: Accessed on 26 Nov 2012).


  • Congratulations to Eric Guiry who convocated with a M.A. from the Department of Archaeology at the Fall 2012 ceremony. (Thesis: Dogs as dietary analogues: assessing the cross-contextual validity of the canine surrogacy approach for stable isotope palaeodiet reconstructions).
  • Dr. Amanda Crompton was named a Fellow of the School of Graduate Studies in recognition of outstanding academic achievement throughout a graduate program.

Award Winners

Archaeology undergraduate students were recently awarded the following scholarships:

  • The John M. & Elsa S. Morgan Scholarship - Alison Harris
  • Imperial Tobacco Canada Scholarship in Archaeology - Alicia Hartley
  • The Mary Pittman-Robbins Scholarship in Archaeology – Ashley Piskor

The following graduate students have been awarded funding by the J.R. Smallwood Foundation for the 2012-2013 academic year.

  • Amelia Fay
  • Jason Miszaniec
  • Frederic Dussault
  • David Craig
  • Chelsee Arbour
  • Arthur Clausnitzer

And, Dominic LaCroix (Ph.D candidate) was recently awarded the Vice-President Academic Award for Scholarship in the arts.

**Congratulations to all the award winners for the 2012-2013 academic year!**

 Fellowship and Scholarship Awards

  • Michelle Davies (above left) is the 2012/2013 recipient of the ISER Fellowship.
  • Kelly-Anne Pike (above right) is the 2012/2013 recipient of the Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship and was recently awarded the Department of Archaeology Scholarship for MA students.

Dean's List Recipients 2012

The Dean's List is a way of recognizing excellence in students who are registered for a BA or BA Honours degree. Compiled annually in the spring, it includes the very best students. Below is a list of students in the archaeology department who were recognized on October 24th:

Dean’s List

  • Molly Barron
  • Kyle Bedecki
  • David Craig
  • Kathryn D'Agostino
  • Thomas Farrell
  • Anita Fells
  • Natasha Gilmore
  • Shannon Halley
  • Alison Harris
  • Alicia Hartley
  • Catherine Hawkins
  • Andrew Holmes
  • Anita Johnson-Henke
  • Katherine Laite
  • Samantha MacDonald
  • Rowena McGowan
  • Abigail Miller
  • Victoria Pilon
  • Melanie Stockley

And, congratulations to Alison Harris for winning the Book Prize.

Congratulations, Frédéric Dussault!

We are proud to announce that Frédéric, a new doctoral student working under Dr. Priscilla Renouf, is the 2012 recipient of the following awards: the School of Graduate Studies F.A. Aldrich Fellowship, Fond de Recherche du Québec – Société et Culture (FQRSC), and the School of Graduate Studies Dean’s Doctoral Award.

Here is a bit about Fred and his research:

"I started my B.A. at 25, after earning a chef and pastry chef diploma.

After finishing my B.A. in Université Laval in Québec, I decided to continue on with a M.A. in Archaeology under the supervision of Dr. Allison Bain (U. Laval) and Dr. Genevieve LeMoine (Peary MacMillan arctic museum).

My research integrated the archaeoentomological approach with the oral tradition of the Inughuits of Northwestern Greenland, to study hygiene and hygienic practices. Over the course of my M.A., I had the opportunity to work in Greenland, Alaska and on Ellesmere Island to excavate Thule and European-Inuit contact period sites. Both my field school, B.A. and M.A., were in the Palais de l'Intendant, an historical archeology site located in the heart of Québec.

The scope of my doctoral research concerns the subsistence, economy and the settlement pattern of the Dorset palaeoeskimo of Newfoundland. I hope to develop a comprehensive, holistic model of the settlement selection pattern of the Dorset palaeoeskimo in Newfoundland.

Also, I want to examine the economy of the Dorset using environmental proxy data in order to better our understanding of their subsistence pattern. This should allow us to assess the economical role of women, children and elders in the Dorset culture, as well as ameliorating our understanding of the Dorset impact on the environment and vegetation of Port au Choix, Northwestern Newfoundland."

Again, congratulations and good luck in the coming year!

Southern Labrador Roadshow

Dr. Lisa Rankin is an archaeologist who has worked near Cartwright in southern Labrador for over 10 years. Recently, she mobilized a team of researchers and community partners under the auspices of a Federal Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada CURA (Community University Research Alliance) grant to study Inuit history in southern Labrador. A major goal of the project is to make all the research accessible to the local communities who are rediscovering their Inuit heritage. Southern Labrador Road Show includes; interviews with Memorial University students from Labrador, children in grades 3-6 and individual interviews with High School students from Henry Gordon Academy in Cartwright. The CURA group, a team of 8 academics, travel through the communities of Pinsent 's Arm, Mary’s Harbour, Port Hope Simpson, Charlottetown, Cartwright and St. Lewis. The film also includes dramatic reenactments of Inuit- Métis and their lifestyle from many years ago.




CNEHA 2012

A special thank you to all the volunteers and participants who made the conference possible! For more information please visit the CNEHA website:




Department of Archaeology

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Postal Address: P.O. Box 4200, St. John's, NL, CANADA, A1C 5S7

Tel: (709) 864-8000