Honorary Research Fellow (University of Aberdeen)
Ph.D. (Archaeology), University of Aberdeen, 2013
M.A. (Archaeology), Université Laval, 2009
B.A. (Archaeology), Université Laval, 2006
Email: vforbes [@] mun.ca
Office: QC 4014
My research focuses mainly on human-environment interactions in the circumpolar north, and I have recently begun expanding my interests to encompass the broad topics of sustainability, transdisciplinarity and public archaeology.
I am an environmental archaeologist specialized in the analysis of insect remains – mostly beetles, lice and fleas. Most of my fieldwork experience involved excavating turf and sod houses (and associated middens) and undertaking small-scale surveys of modern beetles in Iceland (2006-2013) and southwestern Alaska (2013-2017). Over the last few years I have begun to turn my attention to peat bogs as archives of long-term biocultural footprints and biodiversity data, which led me to begin developping, in collaboration with colleague Paul Ledger, a methodology to effectively excavate, record and sample peat for high-resolution palaeoecological analyses.
I am currently leading the SSHRC-IG-funded project “Biocultural and Archaeological Legacies at L’Anse aux Meadows”, which aims to revitalize research at this UNESCO World Heritage site through an examination of legacy data combined with cutting-edge environmental-archaeological analyses. I am also maintaining international collaborations through my continued participation in an interdisciplinary project focusing on the Yup’ik site of Nunalleq in southwestern Alaska, and my involvement in an NSF-funded project focusing on southern Greenland. For more information on these projects, I invite you to have a look at the PEAT Lab web page here.
Prospective students: Over the next few years, I will be looking to recruit graduate students interested in:
- Public archaeology, most specifically exploring educational entertainment (video games, comic books, art, etc.) as means to co-produce and democratize knowledge
- Archaeoentomology: Learning and applying my methodological specialization in the analysis of insect remains to examine the ecology of past and present human niches
If you have experience and/or are interested in these particular areas, and are currently looking for a graduate supervisor, I invite you to contact me!
Courses Taught (2019-2020)
- ARCH 1000: Introduction to Archaeology
- ARCH 2480: Principles of Archaeology
- ARCH 3588: Arctic Archaeology
- ARCH 3680: Archaeology of Iceland
- ARCH 6000: Theory and Method in the Study of Archaeology
- ARCH 6682: Advances in Environmental Archaeology
- Lanphear, Juliet (in progress). A Microhistorical Analysis of Icelander Kristján Eldjárn's role in the Archaeological Saga of L'Anse aux Meadows.
- Milliard, Pier-Ann (in progress). A beetle-based palaeoecological reconstruction of human-environment interactions at Kivalekh, Northern Labrador.
- Salazar Guerra, Carlos (in progress). Archaeoentomology at L’Anse aux Meadows: A Reconstruction of Human-Mediated Beetle Biodiversity Change in the Last c. 1,500 Years.
- Carlson, Ivan (in progress) The Genesis of Labrador's Indigenous Landscapes: A Review of Research Approaches and Current Knowledge (Co-supervised with Dr. Peter Whitridge).
- Speller, Jeffrey (in progress) L’Anse aux Meadows: An Integrated Micromorphological Investigation.
- Jared Hogan (2021) The Perception and Understanding of Archaeology in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador: A Pilot Study.
- Juliet Lanphear (2020) History, Archaeology and Palaeoecology of the Icelandic Plagues: A Review.
- Kuitems, M., Wallace, B.L., Lindsay, C., Scifo, A., Doeve, P., Jenkins, K., Lindauer, S., Erdil, P., Ledger, P.M., Forbes, V., Vermeeren, C., Friedrich, R. & Dee, M.W. (2021) Evidence for European presence in the Americas in ad 1021. Nature.
- Forbes, V., Huchet, J.-B., McManus-Fry, E., Gómez Coutouly, Y.A., Masson-MacLean, J., Masson-MacLean, É. Ledger, P.M., Britton, K., Hillerdal, C. & Knecht, R. (2019) Activity Areas or Conflict Episode? Interpreting the Spatial Patterning of Lice and Fleas at the Precontact Yup’ik Site of Nunalleq (16-17th Centuries AD, Alaska). Études Inuit Studies 43 (1-2): 197-221.
- Ledger, P.M. & Forbes, V. (2019) Palaeoenvironmental Analyses from Nunalleq Illustrate a Novel Means to Date pre-Inuit and Inuit Archaeology. Arctic Anthropology 56 (2): 39-51.
- Ledger, P.M., Girdland-Flink, L. & Forbes, V. (2019) New Horizons at L'Anse aux Meadows. PNAS 116 (31): 15341-15343.
- Forbes, V., Ledger, P.M., Cretu, D. & Elias, S. (in press) A Sub-centennial, Little Ice Age Climate Reconstruction Using Beetle Subfossil Data from Nunalleq, Southwestern Alaska. Quaternary International.
- Ledger, P.M., Forbes, V., Masson-Maclean, E., Hillerdal, C., Hamilton, W.D., McManus-Fry, E., Jorge, A., Britton, K., Knecht, R. (2018). Three Generations under One Roof? Bayesian Modelling of Radiocarbon Data from Nunalleq, Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, Alaska. American Antiquity 83 (3): 505-524.
- Forbes, V. & Sikes, D. (2018) A survey of beetles (Coleoptera) from the tundra surrounding the Nunalleq archaeological site, Quinhagak, southwestern Alaska. Biodiversity Data Journal 6: e22788.
- Forbes, V., Dussault, F., Lalonde, O. & Bain, A. (2017) Coléoptères, poux et puces subfossiles provenant d’habitats de chasseurs-cueilleurs: l’apport des recherches archéoentomologiques dans le nord circumpolaire. Recherches Amérindiennes au Québec XLVII (2-3): 11-21.
- Roy, N., Woollett, J., Bhiry, N., Haemmerli, G., Forbes, V. & Pienitz, R. (2017) Perspective of Landscape Change Following Early Settlement (Landnám) in Svalbarðstunga, Northeastern Iceland. Boreas 47 (2): 671-686.
- Ledger, P.M., Forbes, V., Masson-Maclean, E. & Knecht, R.A. (2016) Dating and Digging Stratified Archaeology in Circumpolar North America: A View from Nunalleq, Southwestern Alaska. Arctic 69 (4): 378-390.
- Forbes, V., Dugmore, A.J & Ólafsson, E. (2016) The Life and Death of Barn Beetles: Faunas from Manure and Stored Hay inside Farm Buildings in Northern Iceland. Ecological Entomology 41: 480-499.
- Forbes, V. (2015) Duck Fleas as Evidence for Eiderdown Production on Archaeological Sites. Journal of Archaeological Science 61: 105-111.
- Forbes, V., Britton, K. & Knecht, R. (2015) Preliminary Archaeoentomological Analyses of Permafrost-preserved Cultural Layers from the Pre-contact Yup’ik Eskimo Site of Nunalleq, Alaska: Implications, Potential and Methodological Considerations. Environmental Archaeology 20 (2): 158-167.
- Forbes, V., Dussault, F. & Bain, A. (2014) Archaeoentomological Research in the North Atlantic: Past, Present and Future. Journal of the North Atlantic 26: 1-24.
- Forbes, V. & Milek, K.B. (2014) Insects, Activity Areas and Turf Buildings’ Interiors: An Ethno-archaeoentomological Case Study from 19th to Early 20th-century Þverá, Northeast-Iceland. Quaternary International. 341: 195-215.
- Dussault, F., Forbes, V. & Bain, A. (2014) Archaeoentomology at Tatsip Ataa: Evidence for the Use of Local Resources and Daily Life in the Norse Eastern Settlement, Greenland. Journal of the North Atlantic 6, Special Volume, In the footsteps of Vebæk, Vatnahverfi Studies 2005-2011: 14-28.
- Forbes, V., Dussault, F. & Bain, A. (2013) Contributions of Ectoparasite Studies in Archaeology with Two Examples from the North Atlantic Region. International Journal of Paleopathology 3: 158-164.
- Forbes, V., Bain, A., Gísladóttir, G.A. & Milek, K.B. (2010) Reconstructing Aspects of the Daily Life in Late 19th and Early 20th-Century Iceland: Archaeoentomological Analysis of the Vatnsfjörður Farm, NW Iceland. Archaeologia Islandica 8: 77-110.
- Forbes, V., Make Academia [Great Again] Better! An Environmental Archaeologist’s Case for Transdisciplinary and Inclusive Research. 26th Annual Meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists (online), 26-30 August 2020.
- Forbes, V., Huchet, J.-B., & Knecht, R. (2019) The Archaeoentomology of a Conflict Scene: Blow-Flies and Ectoparasites from Pre-contact (16-17th c. A.D.) Yup'ik Nunalleq, Alaska. 3rd International Conference in Funerary Archaeoentomology, Bordeaux, 5 June 2019.
- Forbes, V., Huchet, J.-B., & Knecht, R. (2019) The Archaeoentomology of a Conflict Scene: Blow-Flies and Ectoparasites from Pre-contact (16-17th c. A.D.) Yup'ik Nunalleq, Alaska. Canadian Archaeological Association and Association des Archeologues du Quebec Joint Meeting, Quebec City, 15-18 May 2019.
- Forbes, V., Huchet, J.-B., McManus, E., Masson-Maclean, E. & Knecht, R. (2017) Insects as Silent Witnesses to Past Warfare: Forensic Entomology and the Investigation of a Conflict Scene at Nunalleq (15th-18th centuries AD), Southwestern Alaska. 23rd Annual Meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists, Maastricht, 30 August-3 September 2017.
- Forbes, V., Huchet, J.-B., Masson-Maclean, E., McManus, E. & Knecht, R. (2017) Archaeoentomology and the Investigation of a Scene of Indigenous Conflict: Preliminary Results from Nunalleq, Alaska. 2nd International Conference in Funerary Archaeoentomology, Treviso, 7th June 2017.
- Forbes, V. (2016) Commemorating Prehistoric Warfare through Archaeology: The Bow-and-Arrow-Wars at Nunalleq, Southwestern Alaska. Past Matters, Research Futures: An AHRC Care for the Future ECR Conference, Royal Society, London, 12-13 December 2016.
- Forbes, V., Britton, K. & Knecht, R. (2015) Beetle, Lice and Flea Sub-fossils as Evidence for Resource Exploitation, the Use of Space and Ecological Conditions at the Pre-contact Eskimo Site of Nunalleq, South-western Alaska. 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, 15-19 April 2015.
- Forbes, V. (2014) Alien Invasions: Modernization and the Dispersal of Insect Pests in Iceland. 47th Conference on Historical and Underwater Archaeology, Society for Historical Archaeology, Québec City, 8-12 January 2014.
- Bugs, Plants, Peat & People: Introducing Environmental Archaeology and its potential in Newfoundland. With Paul Ledger, Pint of Science St. John's, 26 February 2020.
- What they Do in the Shadows of Turf Farmhouses: Insects and the Modernization of Rural Iceland. MUNArch Seminar Series, St. John’s, 27 February 2019.
- Beetles, Peat Bogs and People: The Unexplored Potential of Archaeoentomology in Newfoundland. Newfoundland and Labrador Archaeological Society Annual General Meeting, St. John’s, 14th November 2018.
- What Can We Learn from Insects Preserved in Peatbogs and Archaeological Sites? Archaeoentomology at Nunalleq, Alaska. Biology Graduate Student Association Seminar Series, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St, John's, 23rd March 2018.
- Archaeoentomological Approaches to Lifeways, Human Ecology and Conflict in Pre-contact (15th-18th Century AD) Southwestern Alaska. Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art Departmental Research Seminar, University of Oxford, 7th February 2017.
- Beetle, Lice and Flea Subfossils from Nunalleq (Alaska) and the Underappreciated Value of Archaeoentomology in the Study of Arctic Lifeways. The Tuesday Lunchtime Lectures Series, University of Sheffield, 19th April 2016.
- Les coléoptères, poux et puces provenant du site Yup’ik de Nunalleq en Alaska : Le potentiel de l’archéoentomologie dans l’étude des modes de vie des peuples autochtones de l’Arctique. Les Archéo-vendredis du groupe de recherche en archéométrie, Université Laval, Québec City, 3rd October 2014.
- Archaeoentomology and the Modernisation of Life-Ways in Rural Iceland. Northern Archaeology Research Seminar Series, University of Aberdeen, 6th November 2013.
- The Use of Insect Remains in Archaeological Interpretations: An Example From Northern Iceland. Meeting of the Aberdeen Entomological Club, Aberdeen, 6th December 2011.