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The Archaeology of Inundated Cultural Landscapes in Freshwater Lake Systems: Preliminary Insights from a Multi-Methods Study in the Kawartha Lakes Region, Ontario

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In this paper, we review the goals, methods, and results of our modelling of the shoreline history and archaeological survey of the inundated portions of a freshwater lake system within the Lake Ontario watershed of south-central Ontario, Canada. We first review the character of the regional archaeological record and highlight the likelihood that the relatively few documented sites in this region before 6000 cal BP is due to landscape inundation from shoreline transgression. The first part of our analytical work focuses on the derivation of paleoshoreline models to identified now flooded, but formerly inhabitable landscapes. The second phase of our work reports on the shallow water survey of high potential areas. We documented over 1000 artifacts in a set of targeted surveys, including the presence of material diagnostic of the early Holocene, which is underrepresented in the terrestrial record. The results of our work emphasize the importance of evaluating the potential for cultural landscape inundation in freshwater lake systems and, when so identified, how underwater surveys contribute to regional studies of hunter-gatherer settlement and land use patterns.
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Journal of Maritime Archaeology (2021) 16:353–370
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11457-021-09296-y
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ORIGINAL PAPER
The Archaeology ofInundated Cultural Landscapes
inFreshwater Lake Systems: Preliminary Insights
fromaMulti‑Methods Study intheKawartha Lakes Region,
Ontario
JamesConolly1 · MichaelObie1
Accepted: 5 February 2021 / Published online: 1 March 2021
© The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC part of Springer Nature 2021
Abstract
In this paper, we review the goals, methods, and results of our modelling of the shoreline
history and archaeological survey of the inundated portions of a freshwater lake system
within the Lake Ontario watershed of south-central Ontario, Canada. We first review the
character of the regional archaeological record and highlight the likelihood that the rela-
tively few documentedsites in this region before 6000 cal BPis due to landscape inun-
dation from shoreline transgression. The first part of our analytical work focuses on the
derivation of paleoshoreline models to identified now flooded, but formerly inhabitable
landscapes. The second phase of our work reports on the shallow water survey of high
potential areas. We documented over 1000 artifacts in a set of targeted surveys, including
the presence of material diagnostic of the early Holocene, which is underrepresented in
the terrestrial record. The results of our work emphasize the importance of evaluating the
potential for cultural landscape inundation in freshwater lake systems and, when so identi-
fied, how underwater surveys contribute to regional studies of hunter-gatherer settlement
and land use patterns.
Keywords Inundated landscapes· Landscape archaeology· Geoarchaeology· Hunter-
gatherer archaeology
Introduction
The post-glacial landscapes of the Laurentian Great Lakes (Fig.1) were shaped by dynamic
hydrological processes, driven by a combination of gigatons of rapidly melting and retreat-
ing ice fronts, isostatic rebound, and colossal discharge of meltwater that can be measured
in sverdrups (SV = 106 m3 s−1) (Condron and Windsor 2012). Melting ice dams and iso-
static rebound shifted spill locations, generating asynchronous cycles of transgression and
regression in the region’s major and minor lake basins, forming complex geomorphological
* James Conolly
jamesconolly@trentu.ca
1 Department ofAnthropology, Trent University, Peterborough, ON, Canada
Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved.
... Portions of lake territories that are currently inundated, including ancient shores, can be studied by the techniques and methods of inland water archaeology. The underwater material remains of the lake socio-ecosystems, therefore, represent a valuable source of information that can complement paleoenvironmental studies (Conolly and Obie 2021). Indeed, the sedimentary burial of artifacts and macro-remains have allowed exceptional conservation (i.e. ...
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