Reconstructing landscape and vegetation through multiple proxy indicators: A geoarchaeological examination of the St. Louis site, Saskatchewan, Canada

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Abstract

The St. Louis site, located in the Plains–Parkland transition zone along the South Saskatchewan River, in Saskatchewan, Canada, is a multiple-component site consisting of stratified floodplain alluvium with multiple, weakly developed soils. Human occupation at the site spans the Late Paleoindian to Middle Precontact periods (10,000–5,000 14C yr B.P.), a time poorly represented archaeologically on the Northern Plains. The dearth of early–middle Holocene-age archaeological sites is often attributed to reduced inhabitability of the Northern Plains during the Hypsithermal, a period of maximum aridity and limited water availability. Stable isotope and phytolith data from the site indicate increased temperatures during the Hypsithermal and an expansion of Northern Plains grasslands into north-central Saskatchewan. Although characterized by increased xeric conditions, human occupation at the St. Louis site, as well as the predominance of C3 grasses, attests to the habitability of Northern Plains river systems during this time period. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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