2007 Field Season
Bisecting unit of a small hearth (b). Low soil accumulation made it easy to spot during survey. Also note the difference in soil colour inside the hearth ring vs. outside.
Decorated ceramic sherd. The first piece of ceramics found by our team. More pieces, but none as elaborate or as large, were found in the immediate area (d) and in another area to the north (f).
Soil sampling. A chemical analysis of the possible storage pit soil could help to determine what was stored.
Bog coring. Soil strata will be sampled for pollen and other climate markers.
The third field season returned to the 2006 site, but added archaeologists from SUNY Buffalo and University of Oulu, and two Cree archaeology interns to the team from McGill University. Our goals were to: 1) more thoroughly survey the terrace and to test a number of hypotheses generated by the previous year's data, and 2) collect data, in the form of bog cores, on the climate before, during and after the period of occupation.
The team split up to accomplish a number of tasks: a) the burial area was surveyed and mapped; b) a unit was opened around a small hearth ring on a lower terrace; c) a unit was opened through the 8x2m hearth found the year before; vegetation was cleared from around d) a surface ceramic find, and e-f) two new quartz scatters; g) soil cores for phosphorous testing were taken; h) a 2x2m pit was half excavated and half soil-cored.
Map of activity areas on the terrace
The archaeological material collected during a thorough survey shows that the terrace was re-occupied many times in the past, although without any dating the chronology is still unknown. High-quality cherts, quartz, decorated and undecorated ceramics appear in different densities on different parts of the terrace.
Map of archaeological material
A unit was opened through the pavement-like grouping of rock uncovered in 2006. The pockets of bone continued into a near-continuous layer between and slightly below the layer of broken rocks, and was associated with evidence of burning. Based on this evidence it appears that it was a hearth, or rather two hearths located close together. One hypothesis was that the rocks were cracked due to thermal shock from rock boiling.
The burial area was surveyed more intensively and several new cairns were located. Top-plans and profile drawings were made of one of the best preserved cairns. Closer to the edge of the terrace and separated from the other cairns, a cairn-like structure was found that was close to 8 x 8 m and 1 m high. However, the Wemindji band council and elders have not decided how we should proceed with any of the burial cairns, so no further action was taken.
A series of ~100 soil cores were taken in a swath running north-south within the domestic area of the terrace. The samples were tested for phosphorus in order to help detect evidence of human occupation.
Half of a large pit near the terrace edge was excavated to evaluate our hypothesis that the many pits found on the terrace were for storage. The soil of the other half was systematically cored in order to recreate a 3D chemical profile of the soil stratigraphy of the pit. The two halves together will allow for an indepth investigation of the pit's morphology and contents.
A series of bogs at various elevations were located and cored. The pollen data taken from these cores will help us to understand the condition of the environment during the period of occupation (click for more information on the coring).
Author: C. Wren