Publications

O’Shea et al 2014, PNAS A 9,000 year old caribou hunting structure beneath Lake Huron

Some of the most pivotal questions in human history necessitate the investigation of archaeological sites that are now under water. Nine thousand years ago, the Alpena-Amberley Ridge (AAR) beneath modern Lake Huron was a dry land corridor that connected northeast Michigan to southern Ontario. The newly discovered Drop 45 Drive Lane is the most complex hunting structure found to date beneath the Great Lakes. The site and its associated artifacts provide unprecedented insight into the social and seasonal organization of prehistoric caribou hunting. When combined with environmental and simulation studies, it is suggested that distinctly different seasonal strategies were used by early hunters on the AAR, with autumn hunting being carried out by small groups, and spring hunts being conducted by larger groups of cooperating hunters.

OShea et al 2013, Nobody Knows the way of the Caribou Rangifer hunting at 45 North Latitude

While caribou hunting structures are well known in the circumpolar region, equivalent features are difficult to investigate further south due to significant changes in sea level and subsequent human activity. The discovery of hunting structures on submerged landforms beneath modern Lake Huron provides a new window into caribou hunting in the mid-latitudes. This paper summarizes current findings and considers both the strategies for hunting caribou and the necessary organizational implications for such activities on the Alpena-Amberley Ridge. It is shown that many of the features known in the circumpolar region are also present in the mid-latitudes, but that significant differences are also observed. Many of these differences seem attributable to the seasonal migration of vast caribou herds across the causeway-like setting of the Alpena-Amberley Ridge.

O’Shea et al 2013, Approaches to the Archaeology of Submerged Landscapes

Some of the most pivotal questions in human prehistory necessitate the investigation of archaeological sites that are now submerged. The advance and retreat of glacial ice and the associated global changes in sea level throughout the period of human development have exposed and then submerged significant coastal land masses repeatedly. As a result, questions as diverse as the origins of early human culture, the spread of hominids out of Africa and the colonization of the New World all hinge on evidence that is under water. While the discovery and investigation of such sites presents technological challenges, these contexts have unique potentials for investigating ancient sites that have not been disturbed by later human activity, and for preserving organic materials that typically do not survive on land.

O’Shea and Meadows 2009, Evidence for early hunters beneath the Great Lakes

Scholars have hypothesized that the poorly understood and rarely encountered archaeological sites from the terminal Paleoindian and Archaic periods associated with the Lake Stanley low water stage (10,000–7,500 BP) are lost beneath the modern Great Lakes. Acoustic and video survey on the Alpena-Amberley ridge, a feature that would have been a dry land corridor crossing the Lake Huron basin during this time period, reveals the presence of a series of stone features that match, in form and location, structures used for caribou hunting in both prehistoric and ethnographic times. These results present evidence for early hunters on the Alpena-Amberley corridor, and raise the possibility that intact settlements and ancient landscapes are preserved beneath Lake Huron.