Dorset use and selection of firewood at Phillip's Garden, Northern Peninsula, Newfoundland: an application of wood identification on archaeological charcoal and contemporary driftwood

Miszaniec, Jason Ian (2014) Dorset use and selection of firewood at Phillip's Garden, Northern Peninsula, Newfoundland: an application of wood identification on archaeological charcoal and contemporary driftwood. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

This thesis employs wood identification and spatial analysis of charcoal to examine Dorset Palaeoeskimo firewood use and selection at the Phillip’s Garden site (EeBi-1), Northern Peninsula, Newfoundland. Handpicked charcoal fragments (n = 600) from five cold-weather dwellings and one midden were identified. Charcoal identified was predominantly fir (Abies sp.; mean = 69%) and spruce (Picea sp.; mean = 14%). These genera dominate the modern forest (65% and 27%, respectively) as well as contemporary driftwood accumulations (34% and 32%, respectively) and are present in the prehistoric tree pollen record from a nearby pond. These data suggest that Dorset collected firewood according to the principle of least effort from nearby sources. Reduced diversity in minor genera (<1%) in the archaeological charcoal record may be indicative of changing cultural preferences and/or reduced availability as prolonged occupation led to a decline in local wood resources. To evaluate if handpicked charcoal biased genera represented, eight sediment samples were processed from three dwellings tested in the summer of 2013. Few charcoal fragments were recovered from the sediment samples and were either fir or spruce suggesting that handpicked sample did not introduce a source of bias. Maps depicting charcoal distributions within three dwellings indicate that wood was burnt inside despite lacking hearth features. These findings challenge the widespread assumption that marine mammal fat was the only fuel used by the Dorset. This project applies a novel approach to a resource that has received little attention to date in the study of the Dorset people.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/8169
Item ID: 8169
Additional Information: Include bibliographical references (pages 105-118) -- Title appears on file as: Dorset use and selection of firewood at Phillip's Garden, Northern Peninsula, Newfoundland: an application of wood identification on archaelogical charcoal and contemporary driftwood
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Archaeology
Date: October 2014
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: Port au Choix (N.L.)
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Dorset culture--Newfoundland and Labrador--Port au Choix; Port au Choix (N.L.)--Antiquities; Fuelwood--Newfoundland and Labrador--Port au Choix--Identification; Charcoal--Newfoundland and Labrador--Port au Choix; Driftwood--Newfoundland and Labrador--Port au Choix; Plant remains (Archaeology)--Newfoundland and Labrador--Port au Choix

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