Palaeoecology, Environmental Archaeology and Timescales Laboratory

logoThe Palaeoecology, Environmental Archaeology and Timescales (PEAT) Laboratory (in QC 1000) is equipped with a variety of resources for both teaching and research involving the analysis of insect and plant remains associated with archaeological sites (archaeoentomology, palynology and plant macrofossil analyses). The laboratory’s main research focus is in examining long-term interactions between circumpolar foraging, fishing and farming communities through the analysis of ecofacts preserved in peat and archaeological sites. 


Dr. Véronique Forbes: archaeo/palaeoentomology, environmental archaeology

Email: vforbes[@]

Dr. Paul Ledger: palynology, Bayesian modeling of radiocarbon chronologies

Email: pledger[@]

You can follow our research and adventures on the PEAT Lab YouTube channel and our Twitter account.

Equipments and Facilities 

The PEAT lab offers ample bench space, a large stainless steel sink equipped with a sediment trap as well as several low and high-powered microscopes for palynological, archaeoentomological and plant macrofossil analyses. We also host a small reference collection of insects from Newfoundland, Alaska and Iceland, in addition to a seed and plant remains collection from this province and other Maritime provinces of Canada, the latter which were donated by Dr. Mike Deal.

Left: Picture of the PEAT lab, right: beetles remains as seen under the microscope

Current projects

  • Biocultural and archaeological legacies at L'Anse aux Meadows: This project seeks to reinvigorate archaeological research at L'Anse aux Meadows (LAM) through an examination of chronological legacy data, renewed radiocarbon dating, open area excavation and fine-grained environmental analysis of cultural horizon(s) recently identified in a peat bog adjacent to the Norse ruins at the site. The objectives are, broadly, to examine the roles played by the different people who lived in the area – from Indigenous foragers to European explorers, fishers and planters – in shaping the local landscape and biodiversity from c. 2000 years ago to the present-day. This project is funded through an SSHRC Insight Grant to V. Forbes and P. Ledger.
  • Analysis of insect remains and plant microfossils (pollen and associated proxies) as part of the NABO international cross-disciplinary collaborative project Co-production of scientific knowledge and the building of local archaeological capacity in Greenland. This project is funded through a US National Science Foundation grant to Tom H. McGovern (CUNY), Ian A. Simpson (Stirling), Jette Arneborg (National Museum of Denmark), Konrad Smiarsowski (CUNY) and Christian K. Madsen (National Museum of Denmark). 
  • Analysis of insect remains as part of the Nunalleq Archaeological Project. V. Forbes' involvement in this project begun as an AHRC postdoctoral fellowship (2013-2016) at the University of Aberdeen, followed by a Marie SkÅ‚odowska-Curie Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Université de Bordeaux (2016-2017). She is still collaborating with colleagues from the University of Aberdeen and Qanirtuuq inc., as well as Dr. Jean-Bernard Huchet, in the ongoing analysis of insect remains from this unique, permafrost-preserved site. 

Photograph showing sampling being undertaken at L'Anse aux Meadows with landscape and tourists in the the background

Graduate Students

  • Juliet Lanphear, M.A. Student, A Microhistorical Analysis of Icelander Kristján Eldjárn's role in the Archaeological Saga of L'Anse aux Meadows. Supervised by Dr. Véronique Forbes
  • Pier-Ann Milliard, M.A. Student, A beetle-based palaeoecological reconstruction of human-environment interactions at Kivalekh, Northern Labrador. Supervised by Dr. Véronique Forbes
  • Carlos Enrique Salazar Guerra, M.A. Student, Archaeoentomology at L’Anse aux Meadows: A Reconstruction of Human-Mediated Beetle Biodiversity Change in the Last c. 1,500 Years. Supervised by Dr. Véronique Forbes
  • Jeffrey Speller, M.A. Student, L’Anse aux Meadows: An Integrated Micromorphological Investigation. SupIvan Carlson with supervisor during 2019 fieldwork in northern Labradorervised by Dr. Véronique Forbes 
  • Ivan Carlson, M.A. student, The Genesis of Labrador's Indigenous Landscapes: A Review of Research Approaches and Current Knowledge. Supervised by Dr. Véronique Forbes and Dr. Peter Whitridge

View of Ferryland

Honours Students

  • Molly Ingenmey, Palynology, Supervised by Dr. Paul Ledger

Visiting researchers


  • Jared Hogan (2021) The Perception and Understanding of Archaeology in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador: A Pilot Study. Honours Essay.
  • Juliet Lanphear (2020) History, Archaeology and Palaeoecology of the Icelandic Plagues: A Review. Honours Essay.


Research Grants

2020 – 2025: SSHRC Insight Grant. Biocultural and Archaeological Legacies at L’Anse aux Meadows. PI: V. Forbes, Co-I: P. Ledger, Collaborators: B. Wallace (Parks Canada Emerita), L. Girdland-Flink (University of Aberdeen), C. Arsenault (Visual artist), A. Friðriksson (Fornleifastofnun Íslands), G. Guðmundsson (Fornleifastofnun Íslands), S. Lewis-Simpson (MUN), T. Birch (Aarhus University), M. Burchell (MUN), C. Dupont-Hébert (Université Laval), K. Milek (Durham University), D. E. Mooney (University of Stavanger). Value: $302,165.

2019 – 2022: NSF Arctic Social Sciences Program. Co-production of scientific knowledge and the building of local archaeological capacity in Greenland. PI: T. McGovern (CUNY), Co-Is: I. Simpson (University of Stirling), J. Arneborg (National Museum of Denmark), K.  Smiarowski (CUNY), C. K. Madsen (Greenland National Museum). Subrecipient: V. Forbes, value of subaward to MUN:  $36,000 (USD).

2019 – 2020: J.R. Smallwood Research Grant. Vinland Revisited: New Horizons at L’Anse aux Meadows. PI: V. Forbes, Collaborators: P. Ledger, L. Girdland-Flink (Liverpool John Moores University), D.E. Mooney (University of Stavanger), value: $5,000.

2019 – 2020: Memorial University of Newfoundland, SSHRC Explore Grant.  Vinland Revisited: New Horizons and Novel Approaches at L’Anse aux Meadows. PI: V. Forbes, Co-I: P. Ledger, value: $6,364.90.

Student Scholarships and Research Funding
  • 2021: ISER Research Grant. J. Lanphear, value: $4289
  • 2021: Michael Smith Foreign Study Supplement. J. Lanphear, value $5,500
  • 2021-2022: Canada Graduate Scholarships – Master’s Program. P. Milliard, value $17,500
  • 2021-2022: Canada Graduate Scholarships – Master’s Program. J. Lanphear, value $17,500
  • 2020: ISER Research Grant. J. Speller, value: $8000
  • 2020: Michael Smith Foreign Study Supplement. J. Speller, value: $6,000
  • 2019-2020: Canada Graduate Scholarships – Master’s Program. J. Speller, value $17,500
  • 2019: PAO Archaeological Research Grant. I. Carlson, value: $4316
  • 2019: ISER Research Grant. I. Carlson, value: $7000
  • 2019: J.R. Smallwood Research Grant. I. Carlson, value: $5000

Research Partners & Collaborators

Recent Publications

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

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 AlaskaQuaternary International. 

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.

Ledger P.M. (2018) Are Circumpolar Hunter-Gatherers Visible in the Palaeoenvironmental Record? Pollen-analytical Evidence from Nunalleq, Southwestern Alaska. The Holocene 28 (3): 415-426.

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., 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.


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