About the Archaeology

Around 9,000 years ago — while much of the fresh water that would fill lake Huron was locked up in massive glaciers — lake levels were much lower than they are today. This lowstand is referred exposed a landform that bisects Lake Huron, forming a land bridge connecting the upper peninsula of Michigan to south west Ontario. Today the city of Alpena in on the Michigan side, while the city of Amberly is on the Canadian side, thus this landform is referred to as the Alpena-Amberly Ridge (AAR). Ancient hunters would exploit caribou herds that used this land bridge during their seasonal migrations across the modern Lake Huron basin

These hunters would create stone hunting structures at strategic places on the AAR to hide themselves from the fast moving herds of Caribou. Hunting structures were often accompanied by stone drive lines that would guide the herds into predictable locations, such that they could be dispatched with a atlatl propelled dart. To date, several sites matching this description has been identified and studied by the UM team lead by Professor O’Shea. The Drop 45 site, for example, has received continuing attention by the team for its clear drive lines, hunting blinds, and lithic artifacts recovered from the site.

Another, near by, site is the Gap locality that features a “V” shaped hunting blind that hides hunters from herds following a natural linear esker that funnels them to a predictable location. Paleoenivronmental testing at the site indicates that the location was a semi-forested wetland for most of its exposure (i.e. when it was dry land)

In addition to the archaeological and anthropological importance of this preserved ancient landscape, we can also anticipate a range of important new insights relevant to the region’s paleoecology, geology, and geography. Along with the presence of ancient waterways and impoundments, the underwater topography will also provide a means for identifying the actual location and elevation of shoreline features attributable to the Lake Stanley low-water phases, as well as a range of other faunal and floral remains attributed to these poorly known time periods. Furthermore, given the fantastic preservation underwater of organic materials – samples of charcoal and wood recovered from underneath Lake Huron have increased the absolute dates available in the region

In order to accomplish these research goals, a multi-layered research design involving specially developed underwater methods is employed for this project.