Geochemical exploration of Inuit soilscapes in northern Labrador

Butler, Don H. (Donald Hugh) (2008) Geochemical exploration of Inuit soilscapes in northern Labrador. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

The past Inuit people of northern Labrador had a variety of effects on their landscape. However, there is an absence of archaeological research addressing their inadvertent influence on the soil's chemical record. Here, I contribute to this type of research by investigating the geochemical characteristics of soils from Inuit winter dwellings at Iglosiatik Island, Nachvak Fiord, Komaktorvik Fiord, and Big Head, northern Labrador. My research at these locations compares the geochemical compositions of soils from several dwelling spaces, adding a geoarchaeological perspective to the study of spatial organization within Inuit winter dwellings. Spaces in these households had socially prescribed and proscribed functions, and the habitus associated with these taskscapes modified the soil's chemical record. -- The geochemical characteristics of soils from dwelling floors, sleeping platforms, lamp stands, storage niches, entrance tunnels, and refuse disposal areas were compared with adjacent non-habitation areas to determine their degree of anthropogenic alteration. The elemental compositions of these soils were measured using x-ray fluorescence and inductively coupled plasma-mass spectroscopy, while pH, reduction-oxidation potential, and total dissolved solids were determined using electronic meters. Compared to their respective control samples, soils from the tested dwelling spaces were more acidic and had elevated concentrations for a variety of elements. Independent-samples t-tests and principal components analysis revealed that the tunnel alcove, middens, sleeping platforms, lamp areas, and entrance tunnels have characteristic increases in distinct suites of elements.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/8818
Item ID: 8818
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (leaves 153-169)
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Archaeology
Date: 2008
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: Canada--Newfoundland and Labrador--Labrador, Northern
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Excavations (Archaeology)--Newfoundland and Labrador--Labrador, Northern; Inuit--Dwellings--Newfoundland and Labrador--Labrador, Northern; Soils--Composition; Soils--Sampling--Newfoundland and Labrador--Labrador, Northern; Labrador

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