The Hartley Site (FaNp-19) and the Use of Sandhill Environments in the Late Precontact Period

by Hanna, Margaret Jane

Abstract (Summary)
The Hartley site (FaNp-19) is a Late Precontact Period multicomponent habitation and bison kill and processing site located on the periphery of a sand dune environment surrounded by grasslands. The Hartley site, located within the Saskatoon city limits, was originally identified by Ken Cronk and members of the Saskatoon Archaeological Society in the 1950s. Subsequent excavations by Millenium Consulting Ltd., the University of Saskatchewan, Western Heritage Services Inc., and Stantec Consulting Ltd. have all added to the database of knowledge pertaining to this site. Radiometric dates and the recovery of artifacts characteristic of the Avonlea Horizon, the Old Womens Phase, and the Mortlach Phase have demonstrated that this region was a popular place for occupation and bison procurement during the Late Precontact Period.

A detailed analysis of the faunal remains recovered from the area known as the Wooded Hollow has demonstrated that this assemblage differs significantly from the remains recovered from the previously researched Brushy Depression. It appears that bison were being heavily harvested and that the use of secondary faunal sources was extremely limited. Determination of seasonality is based on cluster and discriminant function analysis of carpal, tarsal, longbone and phalange data. The resulting herd structure of almost equal numbers of males and females suggests an occupation during the rut, or the fall months. Some immature elements and non-bison remains suggest occupation may have occurred in the spring. It is therefore possible that this region was utilized over a period of time for the purposes of procuring animals from the spring to the fall months. The complete lack of foetal bone in this region suggests that, unlike in the Brushy Depression, the Wooded Hollow was not occupied during the winter months.

Taphonomic factors were considered in performing a complete faunal analysis of this thesis. Non-human agents and associated processes suggest that the assemblage was buried quickly after the site was vacated. The extremely fragmented nature of the assemblage, however, suggests that humans had a greater effect on the assemblage than the non-human agents. Based on breakage patterns it is determined that these remains were being processed for the purposes of both marrow and grease extraction. Application of a site determination model also suggests that it is likely that both kill and processing activities occurred in this area.

Location of the Hartley site within a dune environment is linked to the activities that occurred at this site. A review of ethnographic accounts of bison pounding and surrounding activities has revealed that availability of ecological resources such as wood and necessary topographic features characteristic of dune environments were essential to the success of bison procurement. Although it has been suggested that settlement of these regions is also linked to the variety and stability of resources in ecotones, or areas of resource overlap, between grassland and sandhill environments, a review of several faunal assemblages from various similar Northern Plains assemblages reveals that bison was by far the dominant species exploited. Variety in terms of faunal resources may not have been a factor at all. It is therefore suggested in this thesis that settlement on the periphery of sandhill environments is linked to the presence of bison in the surrounding grassland region, as well as to the stability of the resources in wetland areas supported by high water tables in the dune environments. Also known as ecological islands these regions may have been more stable in terms of essential resources such as wood and other botanical resources, in addition to providing areas of shelter during the colder winter months. It is concluded that settlement and large scale bison procurement activities in several sandhill environments on the Northern Plains is tightly linked to availability of bison, the availability of wood, a conducive topographic setting, and the stability of resources in these ecological islands.

Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:Walker, Ernest G.

School:University of Saskatchewan

School Location:Canada - Saskatchewan

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:hartley site sandhill environments faunal analysis


Date of Publication:06/18/2007

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