The Thundercloud site (FbNp-25) : an analysis of a multi-component northern plains site and the role of geoarchaeology in site interpretation
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The Thundercloud site is situated on the Northern Plains near the city of Saskatoon in Wanuskewin Heritage Park. The site is a multi-component processing / habitation site containing at least eleven components. These components range in age from the period of European contact to approximately 4,000 years before present. The site was chosen for the location of the University of Saskatchewan's archaeological field school for a period of six years between 1993 to 1998. The major focus of this thesis project was to determine the cultural affiliation and cultural chronology for the occupations present at the site with an emphasis on the McKean Complex occupations. However, it was discovered during excavation that the natural stratigraphy of the site was extremely complex because of the natural and cultural site formation processes that affected the site during occupation prior to burial, and post-depositional. Soil horizons were compressed as well as degraded and determining where one occupation ended and another began often could not be easily discerned. Therefore, it was necessary to determine the types of site formation processes that affected the site and to recognize physical evidence of these processes. With this knowledge it was possible to identify previously unnoticed individual occupations within the larger natural soil horizons. The importance of detailed geoarchaeological studies at these types of sites is emphasized through this research.