Abstract/Details

Late Quaternary landform development, paleoenvironmental reconstruction and archaeological site formation in the Cypress Hills of southeastern Alberta

Robertson, Elizabeth Cornelia.  University of Calgary (Canada). ProQuest Dissertations Publishing, 2006. NR19203.

Abstract (summary)

Archaeological understanding of precontact human activity on the Northern Plains is hampered by the region's paucity of archaeological sites from the Early Prehistoric and Early Middle Prehistoric Periods. Nonetheless, numerous researchers have attempted to reconstruct early lifeways, with many interpreting the limited archaeological evidence in cultural terms. However, it has been argued that the apparent rarity of early sites does not reflect cultural factors but is actually due to the scarcity of landforms incorporating intact deposits from these periods. If so, research focusing on identifying and assessing the archaeological content of such landforms is necessary to determine if early sites are, in fact, rare on the Northern Plains.

With this in mind, this project applied such an approach to the meltwater channels flanking the Cypress Hills of southeastern Alberta. Previous geomorphic research suggested that these channels have experienced ongoing deposition of sediment from upslope areas since the last glacial retreat, making them an ideal context for the preservation of stratified deposits encompassing the Early Prehistoric and Early Middle Prehistoric Periods. Subsurface testing in these channels confirmed that they integrate long sequences of dark-coloured buried A horizons separated by light-coloured C horizons. This pattern suggests that the channels have experienced episodic deposition from upslope locations, with intervening periods of stability during which the newly formed land surfaces developed vegetation and soils. Chronological data from these deposits indicate that this pattern was established by at least 9500 B.P.

Additionally, the subsurface testing program determined that the buried A horizons frequently yield archaeological material. While it was not possible to definitively identify early cultural material, the ubiquity of archaeological artifacts in the channels suggests that these areas have a long history of human use. Coupled with a geomorphic history that favours stratified burial of such artifacts, this finding suggests that the meltwater channels are an ideal setting for the identification and investigation of stratified sites representing all periods of human occupation on the Northern Plains.

Indexing (details)


Subject
Archaeology
Classification
0324: Archaeology
Identifier / keyword
Social sciences; Alberta; Archaeological; Cypress Hills; Landform development; Paleoenvironmental reconstruction; Quaternary
Title
Late Quaternary landform development, paleoenvironmental reconstruction and archaeological site formation in the Cypress Hills of southeastern Alberta
Author
Robertson, Elizabeth Cornelia
Number of pages
424
Degree date
2006
School code
0026
Source
DAI-A 67/11, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
ISBN
978-0-494-19203-0
University/institution
University of Calgary (Canada)
University location
Canada
Degree
Ph.D.
Source type
Dissertation or Thesis
Language
English
Document type
Dissertation/Thesis
Dissertation/thesis number
NR19203
ProQuest document ID
305345771
Copyright
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
https://www.proquest.com/docview/305345771