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The Camp Rayner Site: Terminal/Late Paleoindian and Early Middle Period Transitions on the Northern Plains



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The Camp Rayner site (EgNr-2) is a multicomponent site located on the northern shores of Lake Diefenbaker in central Saskatchewan. Excavations at the site were carried out from 1987 to 1997 as part of the Saskatchewan Archaeological Society’s public field school and complete analysis of the materials recovered took place in 2012 as part of Nathalie Cahill’s M.A. Thesis. Using diagnostic lithic tools to reconstruct the cultural occupations at the site, Cahill (2012) determined that the site was repeatedly occupied from the Terminal/Late Paleoindian period to the Late Precontact period. The earliest components at the site, Cultural Zones 7 and 6, have been radiocarbon dated to the Terminal/Late Paleoindian period (8,500 to 7,500 BP) and the Early Middle Precontact period (7,500 to 5,000 BP), respectively. This era in the Northern Plains cultural chronology corresponds to a climatic event known as the Hypsithermal, which affected the Northern Plains from approximately 9,000 to 5,000 years BP. Sites dating to this time period are comparatively rare on the Northern Plains. As such the cultural transitions between the Terminal/Late Paleoindian and Early Middle periods and the adaptations to the Hypsithermal climates remain poorly understood. A detailed reanalysis was carried out of the lithic and faunal assemblages from the Terminal/Late Paleoindian and Early Middle Precontact period components at the Camp Rayner site. The assemblages from both time periods reflect broad based subsistence approaches and restricted mobility patterns, based on the presence of a variety of faunal species and predominance of locally sourced lithics. This pattern is apparent at other assemblages dating to these time periods from various sites on the Northern Plains. From these assemblages, it is clear that broad range subsistence approaches and a focus on local lithics characterizes both the Terminal/Late Paleoindian and Early Middle periods. Furthermore, these sites indicate that humans restricted their movements to regions with abundant food and water resources such as the major drainage systems and the peripheries of the Northern Plains. In addition to the research component for this thesis, a Heritage Resource Management Plan has been formulated for the Camp Rayner site. Overall, the site contains a significant degree of historical, cultural, and scientific value for the Province of Saskatchewan. Unfortunately, numerous impacts such as shoreline erosion, pedestrian activity, and the potential for future development are impacting the site’s intact components. Through consultation with adjacent landowners and communities, recommendations and policy options for site preservation and management have been put forward. From these, it is the hope that the long term preservation and survival of the Camp Rayner site’s historic and Precontact components is ensured.



Archaeology, Precontact, Hypsithermal, Terminal/Late Paleoindian, Early Middle Period, Cultural Transitions



Master of Arts (M.A.)


Archaeology and Anthropology




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