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.