The Wolf Willow Site: A Geoarchaeological Perspective
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Excavation of the site began in 2010 by the University of Saskatchewan Department of Archaeology and Anthropology field school, with the participation of the Saskatchewan Archaeological Society field school. A Master of Arts thesis examining the outcome of the first two field seasons is currently being completed by M. Mampé. An analysis of the assemblage from the 2012 and 2013 field seasons comprises this thesis. Four distinct cultural levels are denoted by unique corresponding projectile point complexes and series. The absence of lithic materials in Level 5 has led to it being described as “non-cultural”. The four projectile point complexes and series found at the site include: Plains Side-Notched, Prairie Side-Notched, McKean Series, and Oxbow complex. Due to the significant gap in occupational progression that exists between the Prairie Side-notched and McKean Series occupation levels, it was decided that a geoarchaeological investigation of the site be undertaken to ascertain the geomorphological reasons for its occupational discontinuity as well as provide an overview of site formation processes at the Wolf Willow site. The “hiatus” in cultural occupations at the Wolf Willow site spans approximately 1000 years, from 2500 years B.P. to 1200 years B.P., and is manifested by a discrete sedimentary unit comprised mainly of coarse sand and gravel. It is known from research pertaining to other sites within the Opimihaw Creek valley that hillslope activity began at approximately 7000 years B.P. and slowed nearly 4000 years later. Although no regional analog for landscape instability exists for the period between 3000 and 1200 years B.P., climatic proxy data in the form of stable hydrogen isotopes from bison bone and tooth enamel samples effectively bridge the gap. Furthermore, the composition of sediments gleaned from landforms similar to that on which the Wolf Willow site currently lies show little similarity to one another. These gaps in the research record of the Opimihaw Creek valley make climatic, environmental, and sedimentological correlations difficult on a regional scale, and highlight the importance of implementing geoarchaeology in the interpretation of the Wolf Willow site.
geoarchaeology, Wolf Willow, Wanuskewin
Master of Arts (M.A.)
Archaeology and Anthropology