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Environmental Context and Time Space Systematics in Archaeology.docx

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Western University
Anthropology 2233F/G
Peter Timmins

Sept, 11, 2013 Environmental Context and Time Space Systematics in Archaeology -The physical environment for pre-contact human occupation in the great lakes region is summarized in the first reading showing the effects of the Wisconsin glaciation on the lower Great Lakes and it summarizes the vegetational history over time and how the evidence was collected -Palynology (study of fossilized pollen) can identify species microscopically to reconstruct vegetation -Samples are obtained by extracting cores from the bottom of ponds, bogs, or lakes and these can produce pollen diagrams which summarize the vegetational history of the fossil site (based on the pollen’s respective shape) -Each layer in the core represents in the best case scenarios a separate level and when combined with dendrochronology can provide dates for the sediments -Once this is done over a region pollen data can be combined and diagrams can be made showing changes in vegetational history Crawford Lake: -The site is meromitic meaning is has limited oxygen and bacteria in the upper half of the lake with little circulation with good organic preservation as a result -The influx of corn pollen relates to nearby Iroquoian villages (and a take over by Neutrals is represented by another rise in pollen particles) and we can tell when they were planted by the pollen’s colour and recent AMS C- 14 dates have revised the chronology to 1280-1490 AD -J. McAndrews believes the pollen was deposited into the lake via goose droppings -The cores also produce seeds and other parts of plant life providing us with information on what plant life was present (floral analysis) Floral and Faunal Analysis: -Floral analysis is the study of preserved plant materials from archaeological sites and faunal analysis is the study of animal bones from sites and both aid in reconstructing diets and environments of the past -You can use floatation to collect macrofossils of plant life (put samples in water and organics float) -Any site within 1000 years of age in our area will have good faunal preservation but as you get older and further north it declines and it also depends on whether the area has been disturbed by development and other forces Wisconsin Glacial Chronology: -The Late Wisconsin is of special importance to us between 25,000-10,750 BCE because that’s when most of the radical changes of the landscape occurred (current drainage patterns, etc) -80,000 BP Early Wisconsin -65,000 BP Middle Wisconsin -25,000 BP Late Wisconsin -10,750 BP Post Glacial (Holocene) Glacial Features: -Till plains are smooth deposits of glacial debris left by uniform retreat of the ice -End moraines are ridges of glacial debris formed at ice margins when the glaciers stood still with rolling topography (one boarders London and that’s why we have so many gravel extraction projects in the area) -Drumlins are elongated hills oriented parallel to the ice flow formed by moving ice (sometimes sites are located on top because high ground was valued) Glaciofluvial and Glacial Lake Features: -Eskers are sand and gravel ridges formed by running water within the glaciers -Outwash plains are level plains of accumulated sand and gravel when the eskers break out of the glacier -Sand plains are formed in shallow water often as deltas (drops first because heavier) -Clay plains are formed in deeper water (last sediments to fall because they are lighter) -Beach ridges and shore-cliffs are former shorelines of sand and gravel (often have sites close by because they were near water or were on raised areas) -A series of glacial advances and retreats affected the Great Lakes region during the Late Wisconsin glaciation -Advances of the ice are referred to as stades and retreats of the ice are interstades -During the last major advance around 13,000 YA in southern Ontario much of the area was underwater and there was a glacial lake bordering the ice front (called Lake Whittlesey and this led to us being called “Ontario Island”) -When it retreated the ice melted and filled the Great Lakes with more water than is currently in them and in Lake Ontario basin Glacial Lake Iroquois and in the Erie basin it was the Old Erie and by Ottawa there was the Champlain Sea that was salt water so on sites there seemingly odd sea life fossils can be found (whales, water mammals, etc) Sept, 11, 2013 -As the retreat continued and water receded the former lake plains turned into dry land and they were occupied by a variety of mammals (no humans in the early period) called Pleistocene Megafauna -Mastodons and mammoths and their remains have been found all over south western Ontario (north of Lake Erie must have been a lush area because of the amount of remains located there) and mammoths were adapted mostly to the northern climate (more grassland compared to the relative wetlands) The Late Algonquin – 10,500 BP: -Was very large and it overflowed modern Lake Huron and along that beach ridge are some of the oldest Paleo- Indian sites in south western Ontario -At the time Lake Algonquin drained through the Trent River Valley (not like Lake Huron today) and as the ice retreated back it exposed a low outlet in the area of the modern French River and this outlet changed the flow of the water through North Bay and this led to a low water stage because there was more water flowing out than in -At this point Lake Huron was much smaller with two lobes (Lake Stanley and Georgian Bay) and during the period between 10,000-5,000 YA the water raised again over sites th
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