Paleolimnological techniques applied to an indigenous Beothuk archaeological site in Newfoundland, Canada

Smith, Veronica (2023) Paleolimnological techniques applied to an indigenous Beothuk archaeological site in Newfoundland, Canada. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Obtaining human population and environmental data from a single sediment record allows us to analyze ecosystem stressors, adaptability, and elasticity in relation to human interference. Russell’s Point on Dildo Pond, Newfoundland is a Beothuk winter camp with a history of pre- European Indigenous use, Indigenous-European interaction, and a seasonal caribou migration and subsequent Indigenous hunting. Archaeological excavations established site use from ~1000 CE until abandonment in ~1650 CE, after European colonization of Newfoundland. To identify this window of Beothuk presence in the sediment record, two dated sediment cores, collected downstream of Russell’s Point, were analyzed for stable isotopes, metal(loid)s, chlorophyll a, macroscopic charcoal, and fecal lipids. These paleolimnological proxies are compared with archaeological information from Russell’s Point to support our understanding of environmental responses during the Beothuk period. The lipid ratio coprostanol/cholesterol shows a positive human signal at Dildo Pond at ~900 CE, increasing to its highest point around ~1000 CE. Delayed responses in As, Cd, Cu, Zn, and 13C increase and decrease to match these lipid changes. Chlorophyll a has elevated levels ~1100 CE until sharp declines ~1900s and drastic increases in the 2000s, with a large peak in the 1700s. Charcoal analysis show that fire events line up with lipid changes, with most occurring during the Beothuk period. The charcoal flux increases drastically after the 1900s with the establishment of the railroad in the area. Our proxies matched the human history of Dildo Pond and Newfoundland. This research is one of the first studies to utilize fecal lipid analysis in Newfoundland and the first paleolimnological study at Russell’s Point, Dildo Pond.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Item ID: 16164
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references
Keywords: paleolimnology, Indigenous, Beothuk, archaeology, Newfoundland, fecal lipid analysis, charcoal, stable isotope, sedimentary metals, chlorophyll a
Department(s): Science, Faculty of > Environmental Science
Date: July 2023
Date Type: Submission
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Paleolimnology--Newfoundland and Labrador; Beothuk Indians--Newfoundland and Labrador--History; Newfoundland and Labrador--Antiquities; Archaeology—Newfoundland and Labrador

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