Images from archaeology in the Lesser Slave Lake area

Pearl Lorentzen
Lakeside Leader

Kurtis Blaikie-Birkigt, archaeologist with Tree Time Services, has searched for archaeological sites in the area around Lesser Slave Lake for 10 years.

In 2016, Blaikie-Birkigt found a 9,800 year old spear head in the Swan Hills. There have been a couple of finds that old in the area.

The oldest finds are found in the hills, Blaikie-Birkigt says, as the lower areas were covered with glaciers or lake water.

In the June 5, Lakeside Leader an article “Archaeology in the tree roots: blowdown results in find” described one of the largest archaeological finds in this region. The site on the Athabasca River was discovered in 2018.

The Athabasca site was discovered with a combination of science and the existence of blown-down trees.

Archaeologists use Lidar – aerial mapping to make site maps, (like the one on the right).

Before heading out to a potential site, archaeologists look at scientific factors such as other known sites, Lidar – aerial mapping, proximity to water, and other environmental or geological factors favourable to historic human habitation.

“Looking at the Lidar, you can see a really nice ridge right next to the river,” says information from Tree Time, “You can see how prominent and flat it is. This would have been a dry place to camp that would offer good viewpoints and access to the river.”

It is by the Athabasca river and is 800 by 50m. The Besant Projectile Points date the sight to between 2,500 and 1,350 years ago.

The site also included Biface, Debitage Sample, Unidirectional Cores, and various flakes.

Besant Points would be used with an atlatl, which “is a throwing stick with a small hook used to throw darts”, says information given by Tree Time Services. Atlatl were used throughout North America from around 7,500 to 1,350 years ago.

Artifact hotbed

A Lidar map of the Athabasca site dated 2,500 to 1,350 years ago. Courtesy of Tree Time Services.
Oxbow Point found near the Peace River Trail in 2014. It is from 4,500 to 4,100 years ago and would have been used with an atlatl. Courtesy of Tree Time Services.
Besant Point found at the Athabasca site which dated the site to 2,500 to 1,350 years ago. Each block is 1 cm. Courtesy of Tree Time Services.
A stone flake found at the Athabasca site. The site was identified by looking for artifacts on the surface, which had been disturbed by a windstorm. Courtesy of Tree Time Services.

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