Ottawa Chapter - Of Worn Suspenders and Archaeological Constructs: Reviewing the Site Concept Through Practice and Landscape Use in the Trent Drainage, Ontario

  • March 19, 2020
  • 7:30 PM
  • Routhier Community Centre, 172 Guigues near Cumberland

Speaker:  Jeffrey Dillane, Parks Canada

Topic: Of Worn Suspenders and Archaeological Constructs: Reviewing the Site Concept Through Practice and Landscape Use in the Trent Drainage, Ontario

Jeffrey’s dissertation research focuses on the changing use of landscape across space and time in the Trent Valley region of Southern Ontario from approximately 5000 BC – AD 1600. He examines the spatial distribution of material culture through time utilizing a non-site approach. The site remains the standard unit of analysis in most archaeological research, despite the reality that sites represent a modern construct imposed on past landscapes.  While there is a certain necessity to sites as an organizational tool, to apply such tools blindly, risks alienating the realities of past practices that led to the often unrelated and very long-term accumulations that we perceive as the modern site. While non-site approaches are certainly not new to the theoretical discourse of archaeology, their application has been limited.  He proposes a new framework for interpreting the material record, which focuses on the regional distribution of artifacts and other cultural features as evidence of practice in a space-time context not reliant on the associations suggested by sites. Utilizing diagnostic artifacts from extent collections, he examines how distribution of material culture changes or remains constant through space and time, in order to understand patterns of landscape use. Ultimately, it is his goal to test a number of the underlying assumptions that are present in existing interpretations of the long-term history of the Trent Drainage.

Jeffrey is currently an archaeologist with Parks Canada’s Terrestrial Archaeology unit, working in the Rouge National Urban Park in the GTA. He is also a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology at McMaster University. He completed his BA (2007) and MA (2010) at Trent University.  His Masters thesis, Visibility Analysis of the Rice Lake Burial Mounds and Related Sites, utilized GIS-based viewshed analysis to examine how sites in the Rice Lake region visually relate to each other and to their surrounding landscape.  He has been conducting archaeological fieldwork in Ontario since 2003. Before joining Parks Canada, he worked on a range of consultant and research projects in the Trent Valley, GTA and Ottawa Valley as well working as a sessional instructor at Trent University and McMaster University.  His research interests include landscape approaches in archaeology, mortuary practices, use of extent collections in archaeology research, and GIS based approaches to spatial analysis.

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