March Meeting Announcement — Jessie Caldwell Memorial Lecture

Join us on Fri­day, March 16th at 7:00 pm in Room 132 of the Archae­ol­o­gy Build­ing on the U of S Cam­pus (55 Cam­pus Dri­ve) for our annu­al Jessie Cald­well Memo­r­i­al Lec­ture! Dr. Mary Malainey (Bran­don Uni­ver­si­ty) will be speak­ing on “Archae­o­log­i­cal Sci­ence and the Archae­ol­o­gist”. All are wel­come to attend!

Abstract: Archae­o­log­i­cal Sci­ence and the Archae­ol­o­gist
Archae­ol­o­gists have a some­what awk­ward rela­tion­ship with sci­ence. Ana­lyt­i­cal tech­niques are used to esti­mate the age of a site, study arti­fact func­tion, estab­lish human behav­iours and inves­ti­gate migra­tion and trade. Although archae­ol­o­gists rely on infor­ma­tion derived from sci­en­tif­ic prin­ci­ples, process­es and pro­ce­dures, they are typ­i­cal­ly trained with­in the Fac­ul­ty of Arts. This can make it dif­fi­cult for archae­ol­o­gists to eval­u­ate dif­fer­ent ana­lyt­i­cal tech­niques, under­stand the sci­ence behind them and know what results are real­is­ti­cal­ly attain­able. An added chal­lenge is that the mate­ri­als under inves­ti­ga­tion may have degrad­ed over time or been con­t­a­m­i­nat­ed by the bur­ial envi­ron­ment (or the archae­ol­o­gists who col­lect­ed them). A wide vari­ety of meth­ods used to study archae­o­log­i­cal mate­r­i­al will be dis­cussed with respect to how they work and how archae­ol­o­gists can use them to their best advan­tage to address their research ques­tions.

Biog­ra­phy: Dr. Mary Malainey
Dr. Mary E. Malainey is an archae­ol­o­gist and pro­fes­sor at Bran­don Uni­ver­si­ty with degrees from the Uni­ver­si­ties of Alber­ta, Saskatchewan and Man­i­to­ba. A strong inter­est in archae­o­log­i­cal sci­ence led her away from CRM work in Saskatchewan and into the lab where she devel­oped nov­el tech­niques for the study of ancient food residues. Using gas chro­matog­ra­phy and gas chro­matog­ra­phy-mass spec­trom­e­try, she ana­lyzes lipid residues extract­ed from archae­o­log­i­cal mate­ri­als. This approach makes it pos­si­ble to char­ac­ter­ize the for­mer con­tents of pre­con­tact Indige­nous ves­sels, deter­mine the types of foods pre­pared using hot rock cook­ing tech­niques and assess the func­tion of flaked and ground stone tools. Dr. Malainey has ana­lyzed archae­o­log­i­cal mate­r­i­al from sites locat­ed across North Amer­i­ca and oth­er parts of the world, includ­ing South Africa, Tunisia, the Balka­ns and Tier­ra del Fuego. Her pri­ma­ry research involves West­ern Cana­di­an Late Pre­con­tact pot­tery, its func­tion and impli­ca­tions for set­tle­ment and sub­sis­tence pat­terns. She also uses com­put­er-assist­ed design soft­ware to trans­form par­tial­ly recon­struct­ed ves­sels into mod­els of whole pots, which are more suit­able for mor­pho­log­i­cal stud­ies. Her 2011 text­book titled A Consumer’s Guide to Archae­o­log­i­cal Sci­ence was writ­ten to help archae­ol­o­gists bet­ter under­stand the sci­en­tif­ic tech­niques avail­able for the analy­sis of their mate­ri­als.