Repository logo

Dendroarchaeology in the Mackenzie Mountains: The Moose Horn Pass Caribou Fence (KjRx-1)



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title






Degree Level



The Moose Horn Pass Caribou Fence site is a collection of three wooden fences located in the Tulita District of the Sahtu Settlement Area, of the Northwest Territories. Situated in traditional Shúhtagoťine (Mountain Dene) territory, it is believed to have been used to assist past hunters in harvesting local game, likely caribou and/or sheep, by steering them to kill zones for harvest. The ages of the features are unknown. Territorial archaeologists recorded the site in 2009, and identified it as being suitable for dendrochronological assessment. The main fence is nearly 800 m in length, and terminates in a corral structure after descending from high ground into a valley. The two smaller fences are located north and south of the main fence, and do not descend into the valley. The project is intended to provide a build date for the fences, and to determine, if possible, how they were used and whether they were used together. In other words, were they built at the same time, or are they reflective of changing land-use? Standard dendrochronological methods were employed to determine the fences ages. To do this, living white spruce (Picea glauca) trees in the area were cored to determine the overall growth pattern in the local environment. The arrangement of wide and narrow rings reflects local growing conditions. This pattern, ending at a known point in time, provides a "master" chronology, against which the archaeological wood can be compared. Cross-sections cut from the fences with their own unique patterns, referred to as "floating" chronologies, which were matched to the master chronology to determine their ages. To facilitate analysis and interpretation of fence use, near-infrared imaging using an unmanned air vehicle was employed to identify areas of high soil compaction. At its conclusion, the research produced a dendrochronological record exceeding 1000 years, which provided the means to determine end-dates for 81 dendroarchaeological samples. The end-dates suggest that the complex was used episodically over a period of centuries. All research was conducted in collaboration with the Government of the Northwest Territories and the Tulita Dene Band.



Archaeology, Dendrochronology



Master of Arts (M.A.)


Archaeology and Anthropology




Part Of