Dr. Meghan Burchell - Feb. 19
Isotope Sclerochemistry and Canadian Archaeology
Intertidal zones are the interfaces between land and water, which permitted hunter-gathers to adapt to coastal environments for over 100, 000 years. To understand how people interacted with the landscape, the micro- and geochemical analyses of mollusks serves as an excellent proxy to interpret the connection between people and the landscape. As mollusks growth they record both cultural activities, such as shellfish harvesting and changes in local water surface temperature. High-resolution sclerochronology, combined with stable oxygen isotope analysis can be used to examine past climate change, environmental conditions and palaeo-seasonaltiy. This permits archeological interpretations of hunter-gatherer seasonal settlement, mobility and subsistence practices. By drawing on Holocene-era examples from British Columbia, Ontario, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland this presentation will discuss how the biochemistry of ancient shells can provide insights into the lives of past peoples and methodological advances for Canadian Archaeology.