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
I am an environmental archaeologist specialized in the analysis of insect remains – mostly beetles, lice and fleas, but also (although to a lesser extent) flies. 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). Since my recent hire at MUN, I have begun to develop a research program investigating long-term human-environment interactions on the island of Newfoundland. I am particularly interested in examining the roles played by the different people who lived on the island – from Indigenous foragers to European explorers, fishers and planters – in shaping its landscapes and biodiversity.
Currently, my main research focus is on the UNESCO World Heritage Site of L’Anse aux Meadows. This follows the inadvertent discovery, in 2018, of a previously unknown cultural layer in the peat bog located east of the Norse buildings at the site (if you would like to know more, you can read our article here). Since then, I have been working with MUN colleagues and students, and collaborators from the Universities of Stavanger (Norway) and Liverpool John Moores (UK), to deploy environmental-archaeological methods, chronology-modelling and geophysical prospection with the goal of establishing the extent, cultural affinity and significance of this layer.
I would be interested in supervising graduate students with previous experience and/or a strong interest in environmental archaeology. If this applies to you, please do not hesitate to get in touch!
Courses Taught (2018-2019)
- ARCH 1000: Introduction to Archaeology
- ARCH 2480: Principles of Archaeology
- ARCH 3588: Arctic Archaeology
- ARCH 3680: Archaeology of Iceland
- ARCH 6682: Advances in Environmental Archaeology
Carlson, Ivan (in progress). Echoes of the Past: Examining Environment Change Induced by Inuit and Activity in Labrador (Co-supervised with Dr. Peter Whitridge).
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, in press) 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., 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.
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.