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Using paleoshoreline and site location modeling in the northern great lakes: Geoarchaeological approaches to prehistoric archaeological survey in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

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Journal Article


Earth, Environmental and Geographical Sciences


Archaeologists commonly utilize spatial technologies to determine the occurrence probability of archaeological sites over large areas. Heavily forested areas of the northern Great Lakes have proven to be especially difficult places to carry out archaeological surveys. In this study, paleoshoreline mapping and site location analysis was used to develop a predictive model to identify likely prehistoric site locations from the Archaic Period in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Field survey efforts targeted locations where modeling efforts indicated high site probability, discovering 23 new prehistoric sites within this National Lakeshore. Based on associations with Nipissing Phase (mid-Holocene age) paleoshorelines, the presence of distinct lithic artifact technologies, paired with limited radiometric dating, the newly found sites are thought to be Late Archaic in cultural affiliation. Analysis of site settings indicates a preference for lagoon, barrier, and estuarine environments. The application of these spatial technologies demonstrates a targeted yet successful approach to field archaeology with limited field time and expansive areas.