A Handbook For Teaching Archaeology In Saskatchewan Schools
By Maureen Rollans (1990)
SSTA Research Centre Report #90-08: 106 pages, $20
Table of Contents

I. Introduction to the Handbook

II. Archaeological Background Information

III. The Precontact and early Historic Periods in Saskatchewan IV. Careers in Archeology
V. An Archaeological Case Study VI. Archaeology and Curriculum VII. Classroom and Outdoor Activities
  • Newspaper Strategies
  • Climate Change/Culture Change
  • Making Maps
  • Cemetery Archaeology
  • Art Activities
  • Solving Artifact Mysteries
  • Analysis and Classification
  • Garbage Can Archaeology
  • Simulated Excavation
  • Field Trips
VIII. Resource Materials Available

IX. Public Archaeology in Saskatchewan

Back to: Curriculum

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The opinions and recommendations expressed in this report are those of the author and may not be in agreement with SSTA officers or trustees, but are offered as being worthy of consideration by those responsible for making decisions.

I. Introduction to the Handbook

As the study of people through the ages, from the first human inhabitants of the earth to people in all parts of the world today, anthropology is a vast and fascinating topic of study. It seems that today, more than ever, we need to gain the perspectives that anthropology can provide in order to come to terms with the fact that our way of doing things is not the only way, nor is it necessarily the best way. By understanding how humans relate to each other and to their physical environment, we improve our ability to make responsible decisions that take into account the consequences of our actions on our environment and social relationships.

Archaeology is a subdivision of anthropology which deals specifically with the study of past human activity by finding, describing and explaining the materials that people have left behind. In these investigations, it is necessary to go to the site of the activity, uncover the evidence, gather all available dues, and finally interpret what activities occurred. Archaeology provides us with the perspective of change in human activity through time, and differences among groups of people.

There are so many reasons to include archaeology in school curriculum, not necessarily as a separate course, but within existing core areas of study. Archaeology provides the subject matter for a wide variety of "hands-on" individual and group activities that stimulate student interest, independent learning, social interaction, and communication (see Chapter 6, in this volume). These exercises can also develop critical and creative thinking: from rudimentary levels such as classification, through making inferences and developing hypotheses, and finally to high level skills such as developing and testing alternative hypotheses, and using research results to develop broad generalizations about culture. 'The skills involved in archaeological research and interpretation include manipulation of numbers, graphing, and computer literacy. The multidisciplinary nature of the subject makes it a useful umbrella under which a variety of required areas of study can be taught. Perhaps most importantly, archaeology is an exotic and fascinating subject for most people, and is capable of capturing even the imagination of students who might otherwise lack interest in academic pursuits.

This handbook is a general resource to assist Saskatchewan educators in preparing archaeological units of study for their classrooms, or in using archaeological concepts in existing units of study. It is divided into nine chapters, including this introduction, each containing different sources of information. Chapter 2 contains background information about archaeology, including an introduction to the subject and heritage legislation. In Chapter 3, the precontact and early historic periods of Saskatchewan are reviewed. Chapter 4 discusses archaeology as a career. Chapter 5 is a case study of how one archaeological site has been studied in Saskatchewan. Chapter 6 is a discussion of how archaeological themes can be integrated into a number of areas of study. In Chapter 7, ten different kinds of classroom and outdoor activities are described; these are suitable for a variety of grades and areas of study, reflecting the multidisciplinary nature of archaeology. Chapter 8 is an annotated list of resource materials (some available locally) which may be used by teachers and students in their study of archaeology. Chapter 9 contains information about some of the different archaeological groups who do work with the public in Saskatchewan and abroad. And finally, Chapter 10 is a glossary of archaeological terms used throughout this handbook. Words that are included in the glossary are underl ined the first time they appear in the handbook text.

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II. Archaeological Background Information

Introduction to Archaeology

Archaeology is the study of past human activity by finding, describing and explaining the materials that people have left behind. One of the most common misconceptions is that archaeology is the study of all ancient animal forms (for example, dinosaurs). In fact, those investigations are part of the science of paleantology-

Archaeological research begins with choosing a problem. The problem can range from having to recover as much information as possible in a limited amount of time if a site is in danger, to wanting to test a specific theory about how people behave. Once a problem is identified, the archaeologist must decide where to do the research (the study area), and the best methods to use. After much planning, the archaeologist is finally able to leave the office and do the most well-known part of the research - fieldwork.

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Archaeological Inventory

Unless the research problem requires the study of specific archaeological sites, the First part of archaeological fieldwork is to take an inventory of all sites in the study area. A site is a location which contains evidence that people performed some activity there in the past. Sites are recognized by finding artifacts and features left behind by people in the past.

An artifact is anything which has been made or changed by humans. However, many items, particularly those that have been used by humans but not changed, have an archaeological importance that is not easily recognized unless they are found closely associated with other items or artifacts. For example, rocks in fields are common and not usually of interest to archaeologists; however, if an archaeologist finds 50 rocks arranged in a circle, this cultural feature provides a due about the structures that people built at that site.

A site can be found in a number of ways. Often sites are discovered, perhaps accidentally, by ordinary people who then intact an archaeologist. But usually archaeologists look. for sites. They survey by walking along lines, a set distance apart

to that they Set consistent coverage over the study area. While surveying, they look for artifacts or features on the ground surface, or in places where the sub-surface is made visible, such as in rodent burrows or along the eroded banks of streams. To find buried sites, they may dig into the ground in areas that seem likely to contain sites because of suitable vegetation or landscape.

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Testing and Excavation

If sites are found during an inventory, they are marked on maps. Then they are tested (or assessed) to find out how important the site is - will it help answer the research problem? Assessment can involve collecting all of the artifacts lying on the surface of the field, and carefully mapping the location of each item. Or it may involve using shovels to dig a series of square test pits; these tests give the archaeologists an idea of how deep the site is buried, and if parts of the site remain undisturbed below the ground surface.

A site is only excavated if the assessment indicates that a site will be productive in archaeological materials that are important to the problem at hand. Archaeological excavation is a slow and careful process. Archaeologists carefully scrape soil away with pointed trowels or carefully maneuvered shovels, and collect the soil in buckets. Artifacts are left in place for as long as possible, while dirt is brushed away from around them. They are only removed after the archaeologist has had a chance to observe the relationships among the artifacts in the area being excavated. The archaeologist dumps the bucket of excavated soil into a shallow box with screen mesh forming the bottom; the dirt falls through the screen and the archaeologist has one last chance to Find the artifacts. Detailed notes are recorded at each stage of the excavation.

Excavation is an expensive and time consuming activity which involves destroying part of the site, and possibly destroying the information for which future archaeologists may be searching. Therefore, not every site that is discovered is excavated, and even sites which are excavated are rarely fully excavated. However, some archaeological sites are in danger of disturbance or destruction by natural processes (for example, erosion) or modern developments (for example, dam instruction). It is necessary to study these sites in unusual detail because important information might otherwise be lost. To future archaeologists, access to the complete records and the artifact collection from the excavation of a site is the next best thing to personally digging there.

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Recording Location and Context

Archeologists do not excavate in a random fashion. On the horizontal plane, they usually divide their site into a pattern of squares called a grid. One corner of the grid is the designated reference point, called the datum. Each square, or unit, of the grid is generally one square metre. Each unit is given two coordinate numbers indicating its position in relation to the datum (for example, unit 60N 85W would be the unit at the intersection of 60 m on the N-5 axis and 85 m on the E-W axis).

The archaeologist digs in only one unit at a time. In order to interpret what people were doing at a site, and when they were there, archaeologists must keep records of artifact grovenien~measurements indicating precisely where each artifact was found within a specific unit. Each artifact that is collected during excavation is placed in a bag labelled with all of the provenience information: In that way, archaeologists can reconstruct the site in the laboratory, by plotting artifact locations. By studying these plots, archaeologists can study how artifacts are associated in groups, and what those groups can reveal about human activity.

Recording an artifact's context - information about the soil and other artifacts around it - is also important in interpreting what activities occurred at a site. For example, if artifacts are found within ash, notes of that Each must be kept - the ash feature should be photographed and mapped (artifact locations noted and sketched). Although the ash itself is not always collected, it is an important due to the human activities associated with the artifacts. Another example would be a projectile point sticking into a bone: an important relationship could be overlooked if the artifacts were separated during excavation and no notes of their association kept.

Another Aspect of the context of the artifact are the non-artifacts, also called the matrix that surround the artifact. This material contains dues used in galeoenviron-mental (past environments) studies. The size of the sediment grains in the matrix can reveal whether the site was in an area that was flooded regularly, or whether it was in a low area where strong winds usually dropped their sediment load. When found in archaeological sites, seeds and pollen from plants can reveal the vegetation at the site and the surrounding area. In conjunction with the vegetation remains, the remains of small animals such as snails and insects can provide clues about the climate at the time that the site was occupied.

Archaeologists must also control the vertical scale of their excavations because the depth of artifacts in the soil is another important aspect of artifact provenience. The arrangement of the layers of sediment at a site is called stratigraphy (Figure 3). Stratigraphy is important in determining vertical relationships among artifacts. Artifacts found within the same soil layer, or strata were all deposited at approximately the same time. On the other hand, artifacts Found in different strata were deposited at different times, perhaps by completely different people. For that reason, archaeologists must excavate in layers - preferably in natural strata. R natural strata are difficult to identify, archaeologists excavate in arbitrary levels, in order to keep some control of depth and relationships among artifacts.

Notes about provenience and context are kept on level record forms (see Figure 4). These are standardized forms which are filled out for each level of each unit which is excavated. The forms have spaces for writing information about what article was dug, how deep the level was, what was collected, and observations about the matrix, unusual associations of artifacts, and any other useful information.

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Dating a Site and Materials Within a Site

There are a number of ways of finding out the age of archaeological materials. Relative dating is determining the age of something in comparison with something else excavated at the same site, rather than determining the age in years. The theory behind the most common form of relative dating is the law of superposition: sediments are deposited layer upon layer. Because artifacts are found within these strata, archaeologists apply the same law to them. If a site has not been disturbed, deeper artifacts were deposited by humans before the more shallow ones - that is, the deeper the artifact, the older it is. However, there is no direct relationship between the depth and the number of years since the rate at which sediments are deposited at a site is never constant. This type of relative dating cannot be used in comparing different sites, since the depositional rate at each site is unique due to the different natural forces at work. An absolute date, or the age of a site in years, is more difficult to determine.

Some materials such as bone or charcoal can be Carbon-14 dated. Radioactive Carbon-14 is present in the air in a fairly instant proportion to the non-radioactive Carbon-12. Plants and animals absorb carbon molecules into their cells when they breath, with a proportion of C-12 to C-14 equal to that found in the air. When the organism dies, the unstable C-14 decays into the stable C-12 at a very slow but known rate. The amount of C-l4 remaining in an organic material can be matured and used to determine how many years have past since the plant or animal died.

Materials which have been heated to high temperatures (for example, pottery or packed rock) can be dated using a process called thermoluminescence (TL) dating. Minerals are exposed to natural radiation in the soil As a result, these minerals give off light when heated, called TL. Heating to a high enough temperature erases all of the TL in the mineral. An object that was heated in the past is heated again in the lab. The amount of TL given off is measured to determine the amount of radiation the object has absorbed from the soil since the original heating occurred. Soil samples must also be collected from around the object so that the background radiation can be measured. The TL given off by the object can then be translated into the approximate number of years that have elapsed since the original heating. R there are no materials which can be absolutely dated in a site, dates can be approximated by comparing diagnostic artifacts such as Projectile points or pottery to similar artifacts around sites at which absolute dates were obtained. This technique is called cross-dating. Artifact shapes illustrated in the timelines in Chapter 3 are diagnostic of particular time periods.

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After Excavation

The fieldwork of archaeological inventory, assessment and excavation are only a small part of the archaeologist's job. For every month spent in the field, about three months must be spent in the laboratory processing and analyzing the information gathered (see Figure 5). In the laboratory, artifacts are cleaned and catalogued so that they can be permanently identified by number. Archaeologists study each artifact individually, taking measurements and making detailed descriptions. For each site, archaeologists have a responsibility to write a report describing not only what was found, but also describing the environment and history of the study area, the research problems investigated, the methods used, and conclusions about what the data reveal about human activity at the site. Thorough reporting allows other archaeologists and members of the public to benefit from the knowledge obtained through the research. These reports ~e kept on file at the Resource Centre of Saskatchewan Culture, Multiculturalism and Recreation, and are sometimes adapted for more widespread distribution. When the site reports are completed, the artifacts and artifact records are sent to the Museum of Natural History in Regina, where they are stored, displayed or loaned to local museums. All artifact collections remain available for study by future researchers who have new questions to ask

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III. The Precontact and Early Historic Periods in Saskatchewan

Human history in the province of Saskatchewan has been greatly influenced by our environment. That environment has changed greatly over the past 12,000 years. Figure 6 shows modern vegetation in the province.

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The PrecontactPeriod in Southern Saskatchewan

This first section will deal with the precontact period in the plains and parkland areas of Southern Saskatchewan. It is based largely upon L Dyck's summary in Epp and Dyck, 1984. A timeline illustrating the cultural sequences is presented in Figure 7.


From the last advance of the glaciers until about 14,000 years ago (the exact date is uncertain), ice covered most of the Province and humans could not live here. Then slowly over the next 4000 years, the ice retreated northward and spruce forests and grasslands moved in from the south.

The end of the Ice Age, or Pleistocene epoch, is marked by the extinction of many species of large mammals such as mammoths, giant sloths, and camels. These extinctions take place about 11500 H.P. At the same time, a human culture of big game hunters, known as Clovis, became established across much of North America. A continuing debate among archaeologists and paleontologists is whether human hunting contributed to the extinctions. In Saskatchewan, the only evidence of these hunters are large spear heads that have been found on the ground surface.


As the climate warmed, bison became the prominent animal in the plains environment. By about 9500 B.P., the grasslands reached their modern position near Saskatoon and the climate was more like it is today. Humans adapted to their changing environment by becoming more specialized, hunting mainly bison on the grasslands. This hunting specialization lasted until historic times, although the hunting technology changed. Most of the archaeological cultures of the Early Plains Indian Period (such as Folsom and Agate Basin) are known at this time only from surface finds of unique projectile point styles and associated artifacts such as scrapers, knives, and fleshers; this makes it difficult to determine details of the lifestyles of the people.

There are only two known buried archaeological sites from this period. The Heron Eden site near Prelate was first tested in the summer of 1989. There, more than 9,000 years ago, people killed large bison (perhaps an extinct giant species) using heavy spears tipped with stone points called Smttsbluff and Eden. Details from this site will unfold in the years to come. About 8,000 B.P., another group of people using Scottsbluff technology camped at the Niska Site near Ponteix.


About 7500 years ago, the weather turned warmer and drier than today, and the grasslands extended about 100 km further north than their present position. During the driest and hottest periods, people probably had to take refuge in the parklands and other areas on the periphery of the plains. Sites in the heart of the plains are rare from this time period.

The atlatl and dart became the main hunting weapons during the Middle Plains Indian. The atlatl is a long wooden devise with a hook on one end which acts as an extension of the arm; when a stone tipped dart which is hooked into the end of the atlatl is propelled, it flies much further and with more force than would be possible with the human arm alone. Smaller projectile points, called Mummy Cave, tipped these darts early in the Middle period (7700 to 4700 S.P.). The Gowen Site (see the first article by E. Walker in Linnamae and Jones, 1988) is a 6000 year old Mummy Cave habitation site and bison processing area located in what is now Saskatoon; it illustrates the success of the atlatl as a hunting weapon. The Norby Site in Saskatoon is a 5700 years old bison kill site. It was also from this period that the earliest evidence of humans in the area of Wanuskewin Heritage Park has been found, although earlier occupations may yet be discovered in the park (see the second article by E. Walker in Linnamae and Jones, 1988).

By 5000 B J'., the weather was more moist, and was gradually becoming much like what we experience today. Sites representing a full range of human activities have been found all over southern Saskatchewan dating from this time onward. This indicates that human activity increased greatly at this time. The Oxbow style of projectile point (4700 to 3050 B.P.) is one of the most common styles found on the plains; it is named after the site in southeastern Saskatchewan where it was first recognized. A separate group of points is found at sites which date from the same generation-

time period as Oxbow - the McKean/Duncan/Hanna group (4150 to 3100 B.P.). Appearing during a time that was wetter than today, the culture named Pelican Lake (3300-1850 B.P.) is not as well known in Saskatchewan, although it is again named after a site in Saskatchewan; it is characterized by uniquely shaped, well made points and knowledge of bison jumping and pounding (corralling) techniques. These three archaeological cultures are also found up into the boreal forest (see "Northern Saskatchewan Prehistory" which follows).


It should be noticed that this period overlaps slightly with the previous period. This is due to the arbitrary nature of this classification system. The Pelican Lake dart point style continued up to 1S50 B.P., while a new style called Besant appears at 2000 B.P. The division between the two periods is marked by the appearance of pottery in Saskatchewan's archaeological record with the Besant phase. These Besant style pots are generally conoidal shaped (see the Laurel pot in Figure 8), and made using a cord-wrapped paddle and an anvil

Like projectile points, differences in pot shapes and designs is important in the study of time and cultural groups. By tracing similarities in style, it appears that pottery technologies may have been introduced to Saskatchewan from the east, where similar styles appear slightly earlier in the archaeological record. Pottery also allows some unique research opportunities, such as analysis of ancient finger prints to determine whether or not groups relied on specialists to make the majority of the community's pots.

Some archaeologists choose to group Besant with the Middle Precontact Period because of the continued presence of atlatl dart points in Besant sites. By 1750 B.P., a new culture called Avonlea appeared, in which the bow and arrow had replaced the atlatl and dart as the mostly popular hunting weapon. The new weapon improved the ability of people to hunt, enabling them to stay hidden as they shot their prey, and allowing a greater degree of accuracy. Avonlea was first recognized at a site in Saskatchewan. Avonlea arrow heads are small, thin, and well made. The ceramics of the culture are similar in shape to Besant, but are decorated differently. Avonlea and Besant cultures coexisted in southern Saskatchewan until 1150 B.P.

The climate had several fluctuations in the last 1000 years, from severe droughts lasting several hundred years to moist warm climates. The drought conditions greatly affected the ability of agricultural peoples living in the Missouri area south of Saskatchewan to maintain their farmirtg lifestyle. However, the people in the Saskatchewan plains and parklands continued to be successful in their bison-hunting and plant gathering lifestyle. Prairie Side-notched points coexisted with and were succeeded by the more square-based Plains Side-notched points. These later arrow heads are the most common style in Saskatchewan archaeological sites.

Even before Europeans arrived in the Province, their influence reached Saskatchewan through trading of goads among First Peoples groups. Horses filtered up from the south, and trade goods including guns came in from the east. These foreign influences forever changed the way of life in the plains and parkland. They increased the mobility of the Indians, their wealth (in some cases) and their ability to kill large numbers of animals. Many of the early historic descriptions of First Peoples groups were made after these changes had already taken place. Although archaeologists depend upon many of these historic accounts to find analogies for the materials they find in the archaeological record, they must take into consideration the vast changes that had already occurred. As Europeans came into the Province, they also brought disease with them; epidemics of small pox devastated the Indian population.

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The Precontact Period in Northern Saskatchewan

Northern archaeology in Saskatchewan is still a new area of study. The area is so far from major population centers that industrial development has been limited, and little rescue archaeology has been necessary. The archaeological sites that are there generally contain very little organic material because the acid in the forest soils decays bone and wood very quickly. There is also little flooding or deposits of sediment, so most sites lie near or on the surface - stratified sites are limited to some river valleys and sand dune areas. The precontact period in the North is still not very well known, so the information below largely taken from D. Meyer in Epp and Dyck, 1984) will be adapted as more research is done.

At the time of European intact, there were two groups of people in Northern Saskatchewan. The first were the Chipewyans who relied upon caribou, and followed the caribou onto the tundra of the Northwest Territory in the summer and into the Athabasca and transitional forests in the winter. The second group were the Cree who lived in the boreal forest, relying on a wide variety of resources (caribou, moose, elk, mule deer, beaver, muskrat, snowshoe hare, waterfowl, grouse, fish), mostly near northern lakes and rivers. This division of northern peoples seems also to apply to Precontact times (Figure 8).

This is the area in Saskatchewan from the Churchill River northward. Although Saslatchewan was ice-free by 8500 B.P., the first people in the north arrived between 7000 and 8000 years ago. Their culture, called the Agate Basin complex, is known from a very Sew spear points found in the far north of the Province - an area which would have been within the winter range of the barren ground caribou. These points are similar to ones used earlier in southern Saskatchewan to hunt herds of bison, but it is not dear whether it was the people who moved north, or just their hunting technology.

As the climate warmed, the tree line moved far north of its present location, and barren ground caribou would rarely have entered the province. This is probably the reason that no evidence has been found of human occupation in Northern Saskatchewan during the cultural period (6000 to 3500 B.P.) which has been named the Shield Archaic where it occurs further north and east.

About 3500 B.P., the climate began to deteriorate, which resulted in the tree line moving south, the caribou wintering well within Saskatchewan, and early Eskimo people moving south to hunt the caribou. The artifacts of this period, representing the Arctic Small Taol Tradition, are completely different from artifacts from southern Saskatchewan, and include Finely crafted crescent-shaped blades, and projectile points which are pointed at both ends. Most of these sites have been found around Lake Athabasca.

By 2600 B.P., the area was inhabited by people who appear to be ancestors of the Athabaskan groups who reside in the area today. These people, represented in the archaeological record by artifacts of the Taltheilei Tradition, used projectile points with notches near the base. The archaeological evidence suggests that these people centered their lives upon the herds of barren ground caribou, hunting with notched projectile points that were often made of bone.


This is the area in Saskatchewan from the Churchill River south to the parklands. The people in this area were greatly influenced by the plains and parklands cultures to the south and the forest peoples to the southeast. No evidence of early precontact cultures have been found in the area.

The earliest materials that have been found in the area are along the Churchill River at the Near Norbert Site, which have been assigned to the Early Side-notched Tradition. These materials are probably dose to 5000 years old and are very similar to projectile point styles on the plains. Since the parkland extended further north at this time, it is not surprising that some southern peoples travelled up the Churchill River system and discovered the riches further north.

Oxbow points like the ones common in the plains from 3500 to 5000 B.P. have been found along the Churchill and Clearwater Rivers and near la Loche. Exact dates for the northern Oxbow sites have not been obtained because of a lack of date-able materials. Copper artifacts, traded from people in the Great Lakes region to the east, are found in sites from this period. Plains points (McKean and Pelican Lake styles) from succeeding periods are also found in the area.

The next major culture is called Laurel, and it is found in the eastern part of the area. It originated in an area to the southeast, in western Ontario, southeastern Manitoba, and northern Minnesota. In those areas, it dates from 2100 S.P. to 1000 B.P. This culture is identified by the presence of a collection of different artifact types: conoidal ceramic pots that were made using the coiling technique and decorated with tool impressions, stemmed and notched projectile points, and harpoons. In the areas of Boreal forest not occupied by Laurel peoples, a northern expression of the Besant culture is present.

Blackduck is the next cultural tradition found occasionally in the eastern boreal forest of Saskatchewan which has its origins further southeast. The main characteristic of this tradition is another unique style of pottery, with globular pots (round with rounded bottom) with a heavily decorated small neck and flaring rim. This culture dates from about 1150 - 550 B.P., and is also associated with small points and tubular smoking pipes.

The Clearwater Lake culture is found across boreal forest area dating from about 600 B.P. Again it is recognized by a unique pottery style similar in shape to Blackduck but with different rim shapes and decorations. Other artifacts are also similar to Blackduck, but the assemblage also includes ground stone adzes (blades with the cutting edge at right angles to the handle, used in wood work such as canoe manufacturing). The rock paintings drawn on outcrops along the Churchill River are thought to date from this period. This culture is thought to be directly ancestral to the modern Cree.

Dating from the same time, the Pehonan culture is one which combines characteristics of the Clearwater Lake and southern Plains Side-Notched cultures. Although the Pehonan pottery is similar to Clearwater Lake, it is often slightly different in shape and has decorations more like Plains pottery; the arrow heads at Pehonan sites are also like the Plains Side-notched ones. Bushfield West, near Nipawin, is a characteristic Pehonan site which dates to about 350 B.P. Pehonan may be the archaeological representation of Cree who wintered in the parklands and came in contact with southern tribes.

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Historic Period

(260 B.P OR 16W A.D. TO PRESENT)

Traditionally, the boundary between prehistory and history has been marked by the arrival of the first Europeans who kept written records of their activities in Saskatchewan. In this handbook, precontact has been used to refer to the period and peoples before the arrival of Europeans. Because this intact occurred at different times in different parts of the province, and because the early records are not continuous, it is difficult to place a firm date on the beginning of the Historic Period. The first description is by Henry Kelsey, who visited the Touchwood Hills in 1691. More continuous records do not begin until 1754 when the Hudson's Bay Company began to send employees inland from York Factory to winter with the Cree. ht 1774, the first continuously occupied fur trade site was established at Cumberland Lake (although temporary posts were built as early as 1751). Away from the major fur trade and explorer routes, some areas do not appear in historic records until the early 1900s, by which time European settlers and missionaries were present in most parts of the province.

In the archaeological record, the historic period is marked by the appearance of large quantities of European goods at archaeological sites. Some historic archaeological sites were inhabited by Europeans (such as fur trade posts and early homesteads) while other sites were inhabited by descendants of the precontact peoples, who were interacting with Europeans. Some European trade goods filtered into the province with the establishment of fur trade posts on the western part of Hudson's Bay in 1682 (not always through direct trade with Europeans but more often through trade among the Indian groups); trade goods became more frequent as fur trade posts became established in Saskatchewan.

Historical archaeology Ells in the story of Saskatchewan's past by revealing information about everyday events and people that are often left out of written histories. It differs from precontact archaeology in the availability of written records as another source of information. The fur trade, Northwest Mounted Police, Metis rebellions, early homesteading, and even the industrialization of the 20th century are illuminated in a new light when archaeological sites from these periods are investigated.

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IV. Careers in Archaeology

Aspects of the Job

Archaeology involves two general types of work For two to four months of every year, most archaeologists participate in fieldwork. Because sites are usually situated in distant areas, fieldwork often temporarily takes archaeologists away from their tamilies and friends. Fieldwork demands that a person enjoy physical outdoor activity. Not only is the nature of archaeological fieldwork physical, but the sites are often very remote, and may require the archaeologist to walk or canoe long distances and camp in primitive conditions. Working and living in dose quarters with a crew also demands that an archaeologist be easy-going and considerate of others.

Archaeologists spend most of the winter months in the laboratory or office. Our climate makes outdoor work difficult in the winter, and the analysis of archaeological artifacts and site information usually takes much longer that does the gathering of the data in the field. Even the preparation for yearly fieldwork - library and archival research and making logistical arrangements such as seasonal staff hiring and facility rentals - takes a lot of work. In both winter and summer, an archaeologist must also have a great deal of patience in order to conscientiously complete the often repetitive tasks involved in finding and analyzing artifacts.

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Archaeological Specializations

No archaeologist is capable of being an expert in all aspects-of the field. The smaller the area of specialization, the easier it is to gain a comprehensive knowledge of the subject and keep abreast of developments in the field by other archaeologists.

Most archaeologists specialize in a certain area of the world, or a certain time period. All classical archaeologists, for example, study the civilizations in the Old World. However, each would specialize further and study a more limited subject such as Fredynastic Egypt.

Some archaeologists specialize in the analysis of one particular category of artifact, although they must have a familiarity with a wide range of artifacts. Zooarchaeologists, for example, specialize in the analysis of animal remains at archaeological sites, and can d not only the species of animals, but often their sex, age, and physical condition. Lithic analysts study stone artifacts, determining what kind of rock was used, where it came from, how the tool was made, and what it was used for.

Some archaeologists are more involved with writing reports, and rarely get a chance to examine the artifacts. They must pull together all of the information about the site, its artifacts, and their distributions within the site. Then they must interpret what human behavior was involved in creating the patterns seen in the archaeological record.

In attempting to interpret the human behavior represented in the archaeological record, some archaeologists rely on experiments which attempt to reproduce the patterns observed in archaeological artifacts or sites. This specialty is called experimental archaeology.

Archival research demands a familiarity with libraries and archives, and their wide range of literature sources and historic documents. It is necessary to provide archaeological projects with historical background.

Paleoenvironmental studies are now an integral part of most large archaeological projects. However, the specialized knowledge necessary to identify and interpret dues such as pollen grains is far beyond the capability of most archaeologists.

Computer applications are also becoming essential for cataloguing archaeological data, and helping to recognize patterns in that data. Some archaeologists specialize in creating computer applications which are personalized for the special needs of each project.

Public education is a growing specialization of archaeology in Saskatchewan. If archaeologists only talk to each other, their research is of very limited value. Opening sites up to visitors, working in museum settings, and writing for a general audience allow archaeologists to spread the news of their discoveries.

The manager of each archaeological project must assemble teams of these specialists to work together. Each person's knowledge contributes to greater understanding of the archaeological record.

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Educational Requirements

Although the choice of specialization has much to do with the course of training required, and the employment opportunities that will result, all archaeologists must first obtain a bachelor's degree from a university. Therefore, a matriculation program in high school, with a strong background in a variety of social sciences and sciences, is essential Archaeology is usually considered a subdiscipline of Anthropology in Canadian universities, but occasionally is a separate discipline. Prospective archaeologists should therefore enroll in a four-year program in Anthropology or Archaeology. Specific courses depend upon the interests of the students.

Although technical jobs in archaeology (excavation or cataloguing and analyzing artifacts, for example) usually require a minimum of a B.A. degree, competition for jobs is often stiff. In addition, in most Provinces, only people who hold at least a Master's of Arts or Science degree in Anthropology or Archaeology can obtain permits to carry out independent excavations. Therefore, any student considering a full time career in archaeology is advised to obtain a M.A., which takes an additional 2 to 4 years to complete.

Archaeologists wishing to find long-term employment in Universities, government departments, or museums should continue in their education to obtain a PhD in Anthropology. In order to receive this degree, a student must prove that he/she has the ability to make important and unique contributions to the field of archaeology. A PhD usually takes 4 to 7 years to complete.

Students interested in Classical Archaeology must follow a different educational course, usually through Departments of Classics in universities. Their job opportunities are usually in university and museum settings.

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Job Opportunities

Archaeologists usually gain employment in the following arenas: consultant companies and research groups (for example, Saskatchewan Research Council), universities, Provincial and Federal Government departments (for example, Saskatchewan Culture, Multiculturalism and Recreation, Canadian Parks Service), and muse". ums (for example, Museum of Natural History in Regina, Canadian Museum of Civilization).

Unfortunately, the job opportunities for archaeologists are fairly limited. Many of the jobs are with consultant groups that specialize in doing research associated with proposed land developments. Because of the nature of the research, the number of positions available fluctuates with the general economic climate. These jobs are often short term, because the projects are generally small in scale and unpredictable in availability. Competition for more permanent jobs is often fierce, but for those dedicated to the subject, jobs can usually be obtained.

Outside of the university setting, archaeological research depends mainly upon public support. This funding ran be through government grants, or though legislation that requires private companies to pay for studying sites that are endangered by proposed developments. Active lobbying by members of the public is largely responsible for the heritage legislation that currently protects archaeological resources in the province. It is only through continued public support that the quality and quantity of archaeological research in Saskatchewan can be maintained.

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V. An Archaeological Case Study

An Introduction to Bushfield West

Bushfield West is one of the most interesting precontact sites ever studied in Saskatchewan. Archaeologists from the Museum of Natural History discovered the site in the early 1960s on a floodplain of the Saskatchewan River, near the town of Nipawin. While studying the Francois Finlay fur trade post, they noticed a scatter of bone and stone tools on the surface of the neighbouring ploughed field.

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Assessment of the Site

In 1976, the site was revisited by a group of archaeologists from the Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC). They were in the area to find and study the archaea-logical sites that would be affected by a hydroelectric development sponsored by the Saskatchewan Power Corporation (SaskPower). The archaealogists collected artifacts lying on the surface of the field, carefully mapping the location of each item. They also used shovels to dig a series of square test pits. These tests gave them an idea of how deep the site was buried, and if any parts of the site remained undisturbed below the plough zone. This assessment of Bushfield West indicated that much of the site was undisturbed and had great potential for revealing the cultural history of the area. The archaeologists therefore recommended that more research be done at the site.

By 1982, it was known that the building of Francis Finlay hydroelectric dam would result in the flooding of Bushfield West. Archaeologists from the SRC were hired by SaskPower to revisit the site. They planned to thoroughly test the site and excavate large blocks in order to retrieve as much information as possible.

The SRC archaealogists divided the site with a grid. Along each grid line, they excavated 50 x 50 cm test pits spaced 12 m apart These tests were supposed to indicate the size of the site and patterns in the arrangement of artifacts. The test pits were excavated in levels which corresponded to the natural stratigraphic layers in the soil

The stratigraphy at Bushfield West was uncomplicated. The plough zone

(Level 1) was 8 to 15 cm thick Below that was a thin level of grey sand (Level 2) that

was deposited when the river flooded. Below the sand was a black layer 3 to 6 cm in thickness that was identified as a paleosol (Level 3). As is the case at Bushfield West, these dark coloured soil layers often contain evidence of human activity.

Test pits were dug well below the paleosol, to make sure that no deeper levels containing artifacts were present. Artifacts were collected in bags that were labelled with the test pit coordinates and the stratigraphic level in which the artifacts were found.

The assessment confirmed that most of the artifacts at Bushfield West rested on the surface of the easily recognized paleosol, except in areas where the paleosol had been mixed with the upper soil layers through ploughing. The site covered an area of 13 hectares, with the evidence of human activity concentrated in certain places.

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Excavation of the Site

The methods used in excavating Bushfield West took advantage of the knowledge gained in the assessment. Because the artifacts were limited to a thin layer, the original ground surface upon which people lived - the living floor - be uncovered in large blocks to study how artifacts were distributed across the site. Areas were chosen for excavation because they had contained interesting artifacts or features in the assessment. In order to compare differences in activities from one part of the site to another, the archaeologists excavated in large blocks of neighboring

1 x 1 m units that were aligned with the site grid.

At Rushfield West, the excavation methods were chosen to recover as much useful information as possible. The top levels of soil could be shaved off with shovels and discarded because the assessment indicated that they were essentially sterile. As the excavation neared the level of the paleosol, shovels were exchanged for trowels for more careful digging. After using paint brushes to remove the last soil from around the artifacts on the living floor, each 1 x 1 m unit was sketched and photo-graphic Then the paleosol level, including the artifacts, was excavated. All of the contents of each 50 x 50 cm block of living floor was collected in a bag. This process is different from the standard practice of collecting only the artifacts and sifting the dirt before discarding it Each bag was labelled with the appropriate coordinate numbers indicating the location of the unit.

In the laboratory, archaeologists sifted each bag through window screen Q mm mesh). These items that were too large to pass through the screen were sorted, removing the non-artifacts and dividing the artifacts into different categories for analysis. The result of using these excavation methods is that archaeologists were able to discover and analyze thousands of tiny artifacts and seeds that would normally have been overlooked in excavations, and which would have fallen through screens with larger mesh.

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Results and Interpretations

The information gathered from Bushfield West is impressive. By the end of the 1984 Field season, a total of 624 m' had been excavated. Through excavations and tests at the site, archaeologists collected approximately 250,000 artifacts. Terry Gibson, an archaeologist at the SRC, had the responsibility of making sense of all of this information.

With so many artifacts found, it was necessary to use a computer cataloguing system to organize the information. The system is a database, with each record representing a single artifact or a group of similar artifacts Found within the same level and unit. Within each record is a series of fields which contain information about precisely where the artifact was found, and a complete description of the artifact - its weight, size, the material from which it was made, and what it is thought to be. Below are some examples of what was found at Bushfield West and how it was interpreted. These illustrate the kinds of questions that can be answered using archaeological information.

Artifacts were often clustered around hearths. Remarkably, many of these hearths and associated artifact dusters were completely surrounded by sterile soil. This lack of loosely scattered artifacts suggests that the site was flooded soon after the occupation, capping the remains and protecting them from disturbance.

An example of this kind of clustering, and Terry Gibson's interpretation of the activities represented, is illustrated in Figure 9. The dusters of artifacts around a hearth suggest activities that were associated with a round dwelling, although no remains of the actual structure were found. On the east and southeast sides of the hearth, large numbers of stone flakes and cores from which those flakes were removed indicate that stone tool manufacturing was the most important activity around the hearth. The analysis of bone, burnt bone and pottery pieces indicate that bison was probably cooked in a pot, and young beaver was roasted over the fire.

Spills of ochre (iron oxide) and grinding tools for making the ochre into paint found near the hearth, indicate that paint was made there and perhaps used in ceremonial activities. Two small trash dumps were at the edge of the dwelling, with pottery sherds discarded in the southwest corner, and bone, flakes, and broken tools thrown in the northwest. Because the area to the west of the fire was dear of artifacts and its living floor surface was unusually compacted, it appears that the area had been kept dean for sitting or sleeping, which after an extended time had compressed the soil

The archaeological evidence has also revealed some general information about the site. Pollen removed from the paleosol has been analyzed and indicates that the floodplain upon which Bushfield West sits was covered with birch trees at the time of occupation. Radiocarbon dates of bone and charcoal indicate that the site was about 400 years old. The pottery from the site is of a style associated with the Pehonan culture. The thickness of the artifact layer suggests that the site was revisited for a number of years. Because analysis revealed the presence of foetal bison and immature beaver bones, and the presence of egg shell, it seems likely that the site was visited in the spring. The presence of exotic marine shell, rare native metals, and uncommon rock types suggests that the occupants of Bushfield West were involved in precontact trade over long distances. The activities represented in artifact dusters indicate that the site was a multipurpose campsite, in which a variety of cooking, butchering, tool making, and ceremonial activities took place.

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Bushfield West now lies under approximately 30 metres of water in the Nipiwan Reservoir. But thanks to the careful work of archaeologists, much of the valuable information that the site contained has been preserved. The site report is now being completed The artifacts and the computer database will provide future archaeologists with the information needed to answer almost any conceivable question.

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VI. Archaeology and Curriculum

Required Areas of Study

This section will explore how archaeological ideas can be introduced for a number of required areas of study. This is not meant to be a progressive curriculum, with each year based upon the previous years' teachings. Rather, it is meant to provide a wide range of ideas for fitting archaeology into the curriculum, because of the interests of the teachers, the interests of the students, or to take greater advantage of opportunities for class involvement in archaeological research.

By suggesting ways in which archaeological themes can be introduced through the existing Sask. Ed. curriculum, this section will explore how archaeology can tie together various required areas of study into one integrated unit (see Devine 1989). It also provides suggestions for integrating the subject matter of archaeological field trips into regular curriculum, ensuring that maximum benefit is achieved through the out-of-school experience, should the opportunity arise. The curriculum Eor Saskatchewan schools is undergoing a major revision, so some of the specific suggestions for integrating archaeology may be out of date within a few years. However, the suggestions will indicate the wide applicability of archaeology. The concepts and activities that are introduced in this section are independent, and do not require that archaeology has been the subject of previous years' or previous classes' study.

Social Studies

In social studies, archaeology should be introduced as an important method of gathering information about the past, information about everyday events and people that were often left out of written histories. That is why historic as well as precontact sites are studied by archaeologists. During any class discussions of past historical events and different cultures, archaeological reflection can be practiced as a means of practicing critical and creative thinking:

What kinds of materials would be left behind after such an event?

Which of these would survive after several hundred years of abandonment?

What would be unique about the materials that would give archaeologists dues about the time that the event occurred, and what people were involved (male or female, culture or nationality, status of participants within

their culture)?

What aspects of this culture would distinguish it from all others in the archaeological record?

What information may you retrieve from the archaeological record about this [kinship system, religion, language, economic system, political system, modes of transportation, food production, or world view]?


Archaeological ideas can be introduced in science classes at all levels from grades 1-12. It provides suitable material for covering most of the Dimensions of Scientific Literacy which form the backbone of the new curriculum. Ecological concepts, geography and geology, are all integral to archaeological research. But probably its biggest contribution to pre-university students is the ease with which it can be used to get students involved in the procedures of scientific investigation (observation, measurement, classification, experimentation, communication, formulating hypotheses, formulating theories and models and making predictions using analogies). It can introduce them to the "scientific point of view" which guides this investigation (including the belief that the world is ordered and can be understood, that there are many methods for investigation, and that attitudes such as open-minded-nests and accuracy are important). See the 1976 Saskatchewan Education Curriculum Guide for Chemistry 20 and 30 (pages 58 - 80) for further discussion of scientific investigation, and the importance of getting students to understand its nature.

Language Arts

Recording information is integral to collecting archaeological materials. Journal entries are made daily in the field, regarding the weather, who was present, what was done, what was found, and some preliminary interpretations. Students visiting archaeological sites or taking part in archaeologically oriented activities may write such a journal entry. An important aspect of archaeology is formally reporting what has been found and how it has been interpreted. This can be done through written reports, aural presentations (perhaps accompanied by slides or displays), poster displays or exhibits, or even video. Creativity can be brought out in fictional accounts of archaeologists uncovering the mysteries of the past, or elaborate instructions of past cultures based on archaeological information but using imagination to fill in the gaps. All of these types of activities allow students the opportunity to use archaeological terminology in context, and develop their communication skills.


Archaeology can provide subject matter for exercises to develop plotting skills, numerical calculations such as percentage and averaging problems, geometric concepts, and measuring skills.

Arts Education

Reproducing artifacts and archaeological sites allows students to be creative. The most valuable activities for giving students a sense of life in the past are those which attempt to reproduce artifacts as authentically as possible, using the materials and techniques that would have been available to the Prehistoric people. Reproductions described in Activity 5 of Chapter l can be adapted for any grade.

Archaeological interpretations may also be presented in visual form, as illustrations or even as dramatic recreations of the events that may have taken place at a site. These forms of expressions can bring life to interpretations that can seem static if presented only in tables of data and factual reports.

Native Studies

Archaeology can be used as a means of studying the long prehistory of native people in Saskatchewan and the rest of the Americas. Much of what is known about the day to day lifestyle of Indians at the time of European contact and before is known through archaeological evidence.

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Grade Level

Grade 1


Classification is introduced at this level. If artifact collections are available, use these as an interesting alternative to buttons or pieces of paper. They can be sorted according to many properties: size, colour, what they are made of, etc More complex classification activities, such as dividing groups into subgroups, can be used with older students (see Activity 7).

The effect of environment on plants is introduced. Allow the students to consider what would happen to the plants in our environment if the weather suddenly became colder or dryer, as it has in the past If plants change or die, what happens to the animals (including humans) who rely on those plants?

Grade 2


Classification activities become more complex (involving subgroups and the introduction of the idea that grouping is arbitrary), so an archaeological classification exercise, such as Activity 7, may be used.

Students learn that living things adapt to their environment and to seasonal changes in their environment. How does this Each make it possible for archaeologists to sometimes know what season people visited an archaeological site? (see seasonality in glossary).

Since dinosaurs are popular at this age, it would be appropriate to explain the difference between archaeology and paleontology.

Grade 3


Archaeological examples can be used to practice measurement such as length, and mass of artifacts.


Environmental changes in the past have had effects upon the development of living things, including humans. What was the environment like in Saskatchewan 25,000 years ago, and how did that affect the ability of humans to live here?

The study of precontact peoples is useful in getting students to understand ecological concepts: that humans are part of the food web. Have them imagine life in the past, and all of the things in the environment that they would have to rely upon to survive. Do all of these parts of the web leave evidence in the archaeological record?

Humans change their environment. Consider the changes that humans are responsible for now with the changes 100 years ago, and 1000 years ago. 100 years ago people built houses and forts, they cleared land and farmed, they build towns and cities. 1000 years ago people hunted animals and gathered wild foods, they cut trees for their tents, and they burnt areas to attract animals with the fresh young plants that would grow back It is because humans change their environment in unique ways that archaeologists recognize human activity at sites even when there are no human bones to prove that people were there.

Grade 4

Social Studies

The 1973 curriculum guide puts the emphasis of grade 4 social studies upon Saskatchewan, and the emphasis is expected to remain the same in the 1990 update. Saskatchewan archaeology should be referred to in most sections of Units G (Who Are Our People?) and III (What Is Our Story?).

Some of the activities in Unit II make reference to Paleo-Indians, archaeological sites, and artifacts. The use of artifacts or pictures of artifacts can be used to construct time lines of Saskatchewan history. However, it is important to stress that the origi-

nal context of those artifacts (in archaeological sites) is what really reveals the information about age and function of the artifact, and the lifestyles of the people who used them. Some aspects of the Indian religion can be studied through sites such as vision quests, medicine wheels, and rock art sites. Cultural change as a result of contact between Europeans and Indians in the historic period can be used to understand some of the cultural change in the precontact period. Likewise, the reasons for population changes today (changing economics, gradual climate shifts, technological developments) can illuminate the past archaeological record and show that population changes are ongoing and are not always due to catastrophes.

In Unit III, archaeology has made important contributions to our understanding of the "Indian Way of Life". Early explorers and later anthropologists recorded some of the more spectacular aspects of Indian lifestyles. First Nations elders and scholars have knowledge about many of the most! common and many of the most important activities of the precontact and historic periods. However, many of the day to day practices of precontact peoples can only be studied in detail through archaeological excavations. Similarly, many historic periods and events in Saskatchewan (for example, the fur trade era, the Resistance of 1855, the settlement periad) can be more fully understood only after archaeological investigations - not just to retrieve artifacts for museum displays, but to flesh out the events, by understanding what the artifacts in context can tell us about the people involved and how they lived from day to day.


Because students are beginning to construct line graphs in grade 4, plotting the location of artifacts within an excavation unit using coordinates would be a good activity. Students can calculate the areas of sites or excavations (if they are rectangular)
using formulas.


Grade 4 science students study the cycle of matter and energy between living and non-living objects in the environment. Living things die, decay, and become food for other living things. Most organic substances - things that were once alive or part of a living thing - do not survive in the archaeological record. Students can discuss the reasons behind this.

Grade 5

Social Studies

The 1973 Saskatchewan Education Curriculum Guide puts the emphasis of grade 5 social studies upon Canada, and the emphasis is expected to remain the same in the upcoming revision. Canadian archaeology could be referred to in most sections of Units II (Who Are the People of Canada'.) and BI (What Js Canada's Story?). Although these emphasis are likely to change very soon, they will be discussed here in order to provide general ideas Eor future archaeological topics.

The initial part of Unit II discusses the precontact inhabitants of Canada, their lifestyle and their technology. The contribution of archaeology to our knowledge about those people should be discussed. Knowledge of peoples whose descendants did not survive long into the historic period comes almost entirely through archaeology (see, for example, P. Such in "Further Reading" of Chapter 8). If artifacts are studied in this unit, they should again be placed within the context of archaeological sites and the lifestyles of the people who used them. First Nations resource people are valuable for demonstrations because they not only have the technical skills but can also offer first-hand interpretations of the Indian way of life today; however, archaeologists can also make interesting alternative resource people for craft demonstrations and artifact instructions. Many archaeologists have studied techniques for stone tool making, pottery making, and other crafts and skills that were necessary for survival in precontact times.

In Unit III, Canada's story is also being fleshed out by historical archaeology. Early historic records were written by people who were seldom objective observers: they were often writing to serve their own ends and to make superiors happy. Excavation at historic sites fleshes out these observations, and often illuminates their inaccuracies; this is well illustrated in the historical chapter in The First Albertan's (see "Books and Periodicals", Chapter 8). Archaeological sites have been studied from all periods of Canadian History, from the Norse settlement in Newfoundland (see Vinland Mystery in "Videotapes and Films" of Chapter 8), to the search Eor the Northwest Passage (see Beatty and Geiger in "Books and Periodicals", Chapter 8), numerous fur trade posts (Fort Pit and Fort Cartoon), Northwest Mounted Police posts (Fort Walsh), dashes between cultures (Batoche), gold rush sites (Chilmot, Trail in the Yukon), early settlement period homesteads, and industrial sites such as coal mines (Leitch Colleries in the Crowsnest Pass of Alberta). There are also opportunities for practicing interviewing skills in the oral history activity described near the end of Unit II, an invaluable skill for archaeological research of recent historical sites.


The grade 5 math curriculum introduces mean values, hr which archaeological examples such as artifact numbers per unit or artifact measurements are useful. Simple percentage problems can be introduced (denominators of 2, 5, 10, or 100) using archaeological examples. The skill of copying pictures from one grid to a second grid of a different size can be practiced by sketching onto a small grid the distribution of artifacts on the floor of an excavation unit (the excavation unit can be divided up lightly traced lines or string).


The study of time in grade 5 science stresses that recorded history is but a small portion of-hme. To stress this, precontact dates of archaeological interest can be labelled on the time line (especially on the 10,000 year time line).

The study of erosion and deposition are important to understanding how archaeological sites are formed after the original inhabitants have abandoned the location. Different forces work to bury the site (for example, flooding), move the artifacts around in the ground (plant roots), and weather the artifacts (running water). These can be demonstrated in the classroom (see Activity 1) or can be observed in field situations.

The effect of heating and cooling on rock can be demonstrated with what archaeologists call fire cracked rock (fa). It is formed by heating rocks and immersing them in water. Water was often boiled this way in precontact times, creating lots of fcr in most archaeological sites.

An Indian fire drill can be used for studying friction. Try making one out of natural materials and use punk of moss to see if you can actually get a fire going. willow for the bow, leather for the string, and soft dry grass or birch bark for tinder.

Grade 6

Social Studies

The 1973 Sask. Ed. curriculum guide puts the emphasis of grade 6 social studies upon the Western Hemisphere. Archaeology may be referred to in most sections of Units IU (Who Are the People of The Americas?). There are so many archaeological sites that have been studied in the Western Hemisphere, that there would be limited value in mapping where some of them occur - the resulting map would have more to do with the areas of interest to the teacher than with the actual distribution of sites across this vast area. What might be more interesting would be to highlight one precontact/vremlumbian culture from South America, one from Central America, and one from North America and compare their religions, arts and crafts, and social organizations-

The new grade 6 social studies curriculum, being finalized at the time this handbook was written, will have a different focus - primarily upon the east and south (Africa, Caribbean, Central and South America). Archaeology would best fit into Unit Q which explores the relationships among the First Peoples and the environment before contact, and after contact, particularly during the fur trade era. The relationships between people and their environment is a focus of archaeology, and is the reason behind the study of past environments. Archaeology provides an important insight into this time period, since historical records tend to be associated primarily with business concerns of the fur trade. The First Peoples of North America were well adapted to their environment and their guidance made it possible for early European traders to survive and flourish in the unfamiliar territory.


In grade 6 math, archaeological excavations can be used to illustrate how areas of irregular shapes can be determined. By counting the individual 1 x 1 m units, one can calculate the total area of the excavation. More complex percentage problems can be broached (for example, percentage of artifacts with certain characteristics).

Archaeological excavations and materials also provide an opportunity to practice making and interpreting scale drawings, as the site and its individual features and artifacts are drawn.

Also at this stage, students gather data to construct simple bar and line graphs. Archaeology can provide many practical.' applications-s for such visual display of information, such as illustrating the relative numbers of different kinds of artifacts, or comparing the numbers s of artifacts in diffe ent levels of an excavation.


In grade 6 science, the chemical and physical processes involved in decomposition can be explained using the contents of an archaeological site as an example: physical processes as root action, freeze-thaw, and water erosion combine with chemical processes to decompose organic materials, and weather many of the inorganics.

Ecology is described in the 1971 Sask. Ed. grade 6 Science Curriculum Guide as "made up of living and non-living components which are generally interdependent, and changes in any component affects the system" (p. 140). Discuss the differences between how modem humans, early settlers, and precontact humans changed their environmental to suit their needs. How do these changes affect the plants and animals in the environment? (See also discussion of grade 5 science).

If animal ikeletons are available, students can assemble the bones to look like the animal they came from. While doing this, they should carefully examine the bones, noting how each is slightly different. If more than one animal is available, compare bones from different animals but from the same parts of the body and note the similarities and differences: the diffmences relate to the special adaptations of each animaL

Archaeological methods of dating can be substituted for discussions of paleontological techniques for dating, and many of the processes are closely related. The suggested activity (page 148 the 1971 curriculum) of observing daily changes in milk

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