Lockport Field School

Lockport site (EaLf-1) Field School 2016 Summary
Sara Halwas, E. Leigh Syms
October 3, 2019

The Department of Anthropology, University of Manitoba offered an archaeological field school at the Lockport site (EaLf-1), north of Winnipeg, MB from May 24 – June 30, 2016. The field school was part of the Lockport Research and TV Documentary Project created by Dr. E. Leigh Syms (curator Emeritus, Manitoba Museum) and Coleen Rajotte, a Cree and Metis filmmaker.

Lockport site (EaLf-1) looking south. Image by Beardsell 2016.

The purpose of the field school was to determine the extent and current status of the maize agricultural deposits originally discovered during the 1980s excavations by the Historic Resources Branch. During the four-week excavation, nine students and six volunteer archaeologists excavated 20 square meters of the site spread along the eastern bank of the Red River. Archaeological deposits associated with the Middle Woodland period (ca. AD200 – 800) through to the historic period (ca. 1800s) produced over 7000 artifacts.

Student excavating in Block 4. Image by Beardsell 2016.

A series of soil samples were collected from the period associated with maize agriculture at Lockport (AD 1250 – 1450) and processed for floral remains. Analyses of the artifacts, animal remains, and plant remains recovered from soil samples indicate a mixed diet of maize, beans, squash, local native plant species (e.g. raspberry, saskatoon, hazelnut), and various terrestrial animals, birds and fish.



Students processing a soil sample using the Department’s Flot Tech Forced Air Flotation system. Heavy fraction of processed soil sample containing artifacts, faunal remains and carbonized wood. Images courtesy of Beardsell 2016.

Carbonized seed and fruit remains recovered from the Lockport site 2016 soil samples. Left to right: wild grass grain (Poacaea), raspberry (Rubus sp.) fruit, and goosefoot (Chenopodium sp.) seeds. Raspberry and goosefoot seeds indicate edible species that were likely eaten by the people living at Lockport.

A Knife River flint projectile point, a Selkirk chert scraper and a number of Late Woodland (AD 1000 – 1500) ceramic sherds were sent to Lakehead University Molecular, Archaeochemistry and Residue Services, (LUMARS, Department of Anthropology) for chemical and microbotanical analyses.

Analysis of the projectile point identified dyed plant fibres embedded into fatty deposits on the surface of the point. Dark blue, light blue, red, black and white coloured fibres were part of the bindings that attached the projectile point to the arrow shaft. Recognizing that dyed materials were just as important in daily life then as it is now opens new dimensions for understanding how past peoples lived.