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Mapping ancient landscapes and hunting sites beneath Lake Huron


John O'Shea, Guy A. Meadows, Robert G. Reynolds and Ryan M. Eustice, Mapping ancient landscapes and hunting sites beneath Lake Huron. In Geological Society of America: Abstracts with Programs, page 77, Portland, OR, USA, October 2009. (Abstract).


During the Lake Stanley low water stage in the Lake Huron Basin (roughly 9900-7500 BP) the Alpena-Amberley Ridge formed a dry land corridor extending from Presque Isle Michigan to the Point Clark area of southern Ontario. This corridor would have provided a natural causeway for the semi-annual migration of caribou and an equally valuable terrain for Late PaleoIndian and Early Archaic hunters seeking to exploit the herds. Unlike many areas subject to Pleistocene or Holocene exposure and inundation, the Alpena-Amberley ridge occupies a mid-water, rather than coastal, setting and was exposed only during the Lake Stanley Stage. As such, there is limited reworking of the submerged surface and relatively little sediment cover. These circumstances raise the possibility that relatively intact archaeological landscapes are preserved beneath the lake. We have developed a multi-layered strategy to map, identify and investigate potential archaeological sites present on the Alpena-Amberley Ridge; which incorporates side scan sonar, autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) for close in acoustic and visual imaging, mini remote operated vehicles (ROVs) and SCUBA trained archaeologists for direct target examination and recording. Work to date has revealed a number of stone features that resemble in form, construction and location, ethnographically known caribou hunting structures from the Canadian Arctic. Concurrent with the underwater exploration, agent-based computer models portraying the ridge as a dry land environment, and simulating the movement of caribou and hunters across it are being developed. The agents, humans and animals, are embedded currently within a prototype computer game. The agents have a basic social intelligence, taken from ethnographic and ecological sources, which allows them to adjust their behaviors automatically to the changes in their observed environment. This near real time interplay of environmental modeling and underwater data collection has proven a particularly powerful tool both for predicting potential site locations and for investigating the significance of identified cultural features.

Bibtex entry

@INPROCEEDINGS { joshea-2009a,
    AUTHOR = { John O'Shea and Guy A. Meadows and Robert G. Reynolds and Ryan M. Eustice },
    TITLE = { Mapping ancient landscapes and hunting sites beneath {Lake} {Huron} },
    BOOKTITLE = { Geological Society of America: Abstracts with Programs },
    YEAR = { 2009 },
    MONTH = { October },
    ADDRESS = { Portland, OR, USA },
    VOLUME = { 41 },
    NUMBER = { 7 },
    PAGES = { 77 },
    NOTE = { Abstract },