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History in Flames: Preliminary Results of the First Fire Record Created at the Archaeological Site Of L’Anse Aux Meadows, Newfoundland.

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11:20, Wednesday 10 May 2023 EDT (20 minutes)

The L’Anse aux Meadows archaeological UNESCO World Heritage site on the northern tip of Newfoundland, offers a unique opportunity to study the possible human disturbance from the long-term Indigenous activity of the area as well as the Viking settlement there discovered in 1960. This site is one of the few places where we are able to study the impacts of First Nations groups as well as pre-Columbian Europeans on the same landscape. The goal of this project is to provide ecological and climatic context of the past ~6,000 years for the new work currently being done at the site by an archaeological team from Memorial University of Newfoundland. Although archaeological evidence indicates the site was occupied episodically by Indigenous people for 5,000 years, past research has focused almost exclusively on the relatively short period of Viking occupation. In contrast, there is currently very little research or published work on the much longer Indigenous occupation of the area. To contribute to this gap in the knowledge, we are currently analyzing a peat sediment core near the site which we collected in August 2022. Our analysis aims to document past vegetation changes and possible human impacts, focusing on the pre-Columbian period. One way that we aim to elucidate human activity as well as natural ecological change at the site is to create a fire record using sediment core micro-charcoal analysis which uses the accretion of micro-charcoal in sediment layers to reconstruct the local fire activity. This micro-charcoal analysis evaluated alongside other ecological proxies such as pollen, terrestrial plant macrofossils and aDNA allow us to understand the history of fire at the site as well as its possible relations to the human activity over the last few millennia. Here we present the preliminary results of our micro-charcoal analysis alongside our C14 dates that reconstruct the fire history changes before during and after the main periods of Indigenous and Norse occupations. With this work, we hope to better understand the ecological conditions of Indigenous and Norse activity and match fire occurrence to human adaptations. 

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