Meghan Burchell




Ph.D. (Anthropology), McMaster University, 2013


Email: mburchell [@]
Phone: (709) 864-8865
Office: QC 2007

Research Interests

My research intersects archaeology, biology and geochemistry to understand long-term human-environmental interactions. More specifically, I study the micro-structure and geochemistry of hard tissues such as shell, bone, teeth and coral to derive information on past climate, human settlement patterns and diet. The majority of my work focuses on coastal landscapes and the development of new techniques to improve seasonality and paleoclimate reconstructions using high-resolution stable isotope sclerochronology.

Regionally, I have worked on field and lab-based research projects on the coast of British Columbia, Ontario, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. In addition to archaeological research, I have also worked on environmental monitoring and remediation projects in Chile and the Caribbean.

My theoretical interests include hunter-gatherer settlement and subsistence economies, gender and archaeology, and the archaeology of death. Methodologically, I am interested in the application of stable isotopes and trace elements to understand past environments and populations. I am also interested in the practice of sustainable archaeology, collections management and archival-based research.

I am currently directing a 4-year SSHRC Insight Grant Project Human-environmental interactions in the Salish Sea, British Columbia: archaeological histories of seasonality, subsistence and settlement through high-resolution biogeochemistry.

For more information, please visit the Memorial Applied Archaeological Sciences webpage.

Courses for 2018-2019

ARCH 3688: Coastal Archaeology
ARCH 4994: Advanced Research and Writing
ARCH 6411: Theory and Method in Archaeology and Prehistory.

Graduate Supervision: Topics & Themes
  • Coastal landscapes in archaeology
  • Sclerochronology and palaeoenvironmental proxy development
  • Gender in archaeology
  • Mortuary archaeology
  • Hunter-gatherer subsistence and settlement
  • Geochemical applications in archaeology

2018 MUN School of Graduate Studies Dean’s Excellence Award for Service Excellence.

Research supervision
Post-Doctoral Supervision

Dr. Madeleine Mant. Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Banting Post Doctoral Fellow. Stories in Sailor’s Bones: A multi-proxy to understanding health and life-histories of Transatlantic voyagers through the 18th and 19th centuries.

Ph.D. Dissertations

Brenan, Julia (in progress). Research topic: Legacies of colonial waste in Labrador and the implications for community archaeology (Co-supervised with Dr. Scott Neilsen).
Jalbert, Catherine (2019). Archaeology in Canada: An Analysis of Demographics and Working Conditions in the Discipline. (Co-supervised with Dr. Lisa Rankin).

M.A. Theses

Predham, Ian (in progress). Research topic: tbd.
Kuehn, Sarah (in Progress). Research topic: Investigating Gastropods in Archaeological Contexts.
Sparrow, Anna (in progress). Research topic: The history of settlement, subsistence and human-canine relationships in the Salish Sea through stable isotope analyses.
Leclerc, Natasha (2017). Long-term Histories of Clam Harvesting and Seasonal Settlement Strategies on Shíshálh Lands, British Columbia.
Hamilton, Tyrone (2015). Geochemical Analysis of Historic Iron Artifacts from Inuit sites in Southern Labrador. (Co-supervised with Dr. Lisa Rankin)

B.A. Honours Essays

Dusseault, M. (in progress). Limits and Potential of FTIR Analyses for Biogenic Carbonates in Archaeological Contexts.
Predham, I. (2019). Environmental Archaeology and Insights from Shellfish Harvesting in Atlantic Canada.
Boger, C. (2018). Investigating Palaeopathology, gender and status through 18th Century London Archives.
Sparrow, A. (2016). Investigating the history of shellfish harvesting at Deep Bay (DiSe-7), Vancouver Island: Insights from Shell Growth-Increment Analysis of Saxidomus gigantea and the Historical Record.
Way, M. (2016). Archaeoparasitology: Preliminary Results from Deep Bay (DiSe-7), British Columbia.
Morrision, M. (2015). Catacombs, Crypts, and Castles: The role of human remains in construction between 1500-1800 AD.
Stockley, M. (2015). Creating and making memories: trans-Atlantic slave burials in mortuary context.

Selected Publications

Burchell, M, and Harris, A. 2018. Stable Isotopes in Canadian Archaeology: Current and Future Directions. Special Issue: Celebrating 50 Years of The Canadian Journal of Archaeology, 42(1): 115-123.

Burchell, M., Stopp, MP., Cannon, A., Schöne, BR. 2018 Seasonality of mussel collection from Schooner Cove, Labrador: Comparing thin-section analysis with high-resolution isotope sampling. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports.

Betts, MW., Burchell, M., Schöne BR. 2017. An Economic History of the Maritime Woodland Period in Port Joli Harbour, Nova Scotia. The Journal of the North Atlantic. 10:18-41.

Cook, K., Burchell, M. 2017. From Ivory Tower to Open Classrooms to #ModernDayMargaretMeads: Empowering the Next Generation of Public Anthropologists. AllegraLab (Finalist in the Sapiens-Allegra Public Anthropology Competition).

Cannon, A., Burchell, M. 2016. Reconciling oxygen isotope sclerochronology with interpretations of millennia of seasonal shellfish collection on the Pacific Northwest Coast. Quaternary International: Methodological Issues in Archaeomalacological studies: P. Faulkner, A. Jerardino, C. Flores, eds. doi:10.1016/j.quaint.2016.02.037

Williamson, RF., Burchell, M., Fox, W., Grant, S. 2016. Looking Eastward: Fifteenth and Early Sixteenth Century exchange systems of the north shore ancestral Wendat. In: B. Sixteenth-Century Contact in the Northeast: Networks among Fishers, Foragers and Farmers. Loewen and C. Chapdelaine, eds. Mercury Series in Archaeology, Canadian Museum of History and University of Ottawa Press, Ottawa. Pp. 235-255.

Burchell, M., Hallmann, N., Schöne, BR., Cannon, A., Schwarcz, HP. 2014. Biogeochemical signatures of archaeological shells: Implications for interpreting seasonality at shell midden sites. In: The Cultural Dynamics of Shell Matrix Sites. Edited by M. Roksandic, S. Mendonça de Souza, S. Eggers, M. Burchell and D. Klokler. University of New Mexico Press. Pp. 241-250.

Schwarcz, HP. Chisholm, B. Burchell, M. 2014. Isotopic Studies of the diet of the peoples of the coast of British Columbia. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 155:460-468.

Burchell, M., Betts, M., Patton, A.K. 2014. Preliminary analysis of stable oxygen isotopes and shell growth in the soft-shelled clam Mya arenaria: Implications interpreting seasonality and shellfish harvesting in Port Joli Nova Scotia. North Atlantic Archaeology 3: 91-106.

Burchell, M., Hallmann, N, Martindale, A, Cannon, A, Schöne, BR. 2013. Seasonality and the intensity of shellfish harvesting on the north coast of British Columbia, Canada. The Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology 8(2):152-169.

Burchell, M., Cannon, A., Hallmann, N. Schwarcz, HP., Schöne, BR. 2013. Refining estimates for the season of shellfish collection on the Pacific Northwest Coast: Applying high-resolution stable oxygen isotope analysis and sclerochronology. Archaeometry 55(2): 258-276.

Burchell, M., Cannon, A., Hallmann, N. Schwarcz, HP., Schöne, BR. 2013. Inter-site variability in the season of shellfish collection on the central coast of British Columbia. Journal of Archaeological Science 40(1):626-636.

Presentations (2018)

Burchell, M., Sparrow, A., Dusseault, M. Hallmann, N., Schëne, BR. (forthcoming). The Mid-Holocene Landscape of Deep Bay: A Multi-proxy Approach to Palaeoenvironmental Reconstruction from Shell Midden Deposits in Coastal British Columbia, Canada. To be presented at the 130th Geological Society of America Annual Meeting, Indianapolis, Indiana, 4-7 November.

Burchell, M. Dusseault, M§, Poduska, K., Grant, D. Structurally Sound: Shell Chemistry and Structure in Archaeological Interpretation. 24th Annual Meeting of the Association of European Archaeologists, Barcelona, Spain. September 5-8, 2018.

Burchell, M. “I Know What You Ate Last Summer and Other Secrets from an Archaeologist”. Pint of Science, St. John’s NL, August 10, 2018.

Burchell, M. Shell Midden Isotope Sclerochronology and the History of Seasonal Subsistence Networks on the Pacific Northwest Coast of Canada. International Union of the Protohistoric and Prehistoric Sciences (UISPP) Commission on Coastal Prehistory and Submerged Landscapes, Paris, France. June 4-9, 2108.


Department of Archaeology

230 Elizabeth Ave, St. John's, NL, CANADA, A1B 3X9

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

Tel: (709) 864-8000