Geoarchaeology at the Red Tail site : paleoenvironmental reconstruction of climate change during the Holocene
The Red Tail site is one of 19 archaeological sites that lie within central Saskatchewan’s Wanuskewin Heritage Park. Since the creation of a long-term research program in 1984, many of these sites have been excavated making this the longest running archaeological project in Canada. This has provided an extensive body of archaeological evidence of human activity dating as early as the Early Precontact Period. Despite the extensive archaeological excavation and research that has occurred, relatively few geomorphic and paleoenvironmental studies have been conducted within the area. Paleoenvironmental data provide important context in building archaeological interpretations of past lifeways. The Red Tail site was originally excavated in 1988 and 1989 to a depth of approximately 2.7 m. In 2007, the site was revisited in order to conduct subsurface coring to a depth of over 6 m using a Geoprobe coring rig. This method allowed recovery of culturally sterile soils/sediments beyond the depth of the original excavation. This project includes analysis of these cores in order to investigate geomorphic processes active at the site and proxy indicators of paleoenvironment and paleoclimate. Analysis of two of the cores included detailed description of the recovered soils and sediments, as well as stable isotope and phytolith analysis of selected units in one of the cores. This suite of methods provides a robust, multi-proxy interpretation of geomorphic change and paleoenvironmental conditions at the site. The site was geomorphically active during the Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene, reflective of a dynamic and fluctuating climate following the glacial retreat. As the environment became more stable during the Middle to Late Holocene, periods of landscape stability are reflected in a sequence of buried soils. The paleoenvironmental and paleoclimatic record recovered from these buried soils shows a fairly consistent history of C3-plant dominated communities, reflective of moist, cool climate conditions. The relatively stable environmental and climatic conditions reflected at the site contribute to the understanding of the Wanuskewin area as an oasis on the prairies.
DegreeMaster of Arts (M.A.)
DepartmentArchaeology and Anthropology
SupervisorRobertson, Elizabeth C.
CommitteeWalker, Ernie; Aitken, Alec; Bedard-Haughn, Angela
Copyright DateJune 2013
Wanuskewin Heritage Park