Saturday, July 9, 2011

Unearthing History

 We stayed last night at the Point Riche archaeological dig site in Port au Choix so we are the first visitors today. 

Philips Garden, as it is called, is widely acknowledged as one of the most important Palaeo-Eskimo sites in Western Newfoundland.

 Following a trail along the rocky, wind-swept coast, past tuckamore and wild flowers,  brought us to a barren peat meadow.

Between 4,000 and 1,000 years ago, the Eastern Canadian Arctic was occupied by a people we know as “Palaeo-Eskimos”.  The southernmost sites of these people are found in Newfoundland. 

 Two large sites have been explored here, one dating between 500 and 1,00o BC and the other between AD 100 and 600.

                        This site was first unearthed in 1929 during a archaeological survey.

   It was explored in the 60’s and is now being worked again using more modern methods. 

Ground penetrating cameras and satellite imaging have helped to reveal that these houses were  shaped differently than previously thought.

Many artifacts have been found here-projectile points, harpoon tips, and bits of whale bones are common finds.

The home sites are larger than originally thought, with some probably home to as many as 25 people.

 These people did not hunt whales, but did scavenge their bones off the beaches.

They followed the seal migration and hunted them for food and used their skins for clothing.

 The shaker is used to sift dirt, making it easier to sort for artifacts.

These pieces will be taken back to a lab for identification and cataloging.

For the first time in about 1500 years, the sun glints off this sharpened object – a Dorset Palaeo-Eskimo Chert end scraper, and we are amongst the first to see it.

 It is thought that a climate warming period caused the ice pack off shore and the seals on it to recede far enough from shore to make hunting them so difficult that these people left the area.  No one knows where they went.

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