ROSS ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE
Ross Site Buried Campsite
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Ross Archaeological Site is an especially rich and varied prehistoric site consisting of multiple buried campsite occupations situated on a low terrace on the south side of the Oldman River, 15km northeast of Coaldale. Encompassing approximately 35 acres, the site can be observed in riverbank deposits that extend for a distance of 200 metres and up to 4 metres below ground surface. Cultural materials associated with the site represent as many as six occupations that occurred during the late Old Women's Phase (A.D. 1400 to A.D. 1700) of the Late Prehistoric Period. Artifacts collected at this site are housed in the collections of the Royal Alberta Museum and the University of Calgary.
The heritage value of the Ross Archaeological Site lies in its rich record of repeated seasonal occupation during the Old Women's Phase of the Late Prehistoric Period on the Alberta plains.
Subject to archaeological excavations in both 1957 and 1980, the Ross Archaeological Site has yielded a diverse array of cultural materials including stone and bone tools, shell and bone beads, pottery, pendants, iniskim ('buffalo stones') and fragmented animal bone. Associated with these materials are campfires (hearths) and hunter's processing pits. Activities interpreted within the site occupations include tool manufacturing, animal butchering, meat roasting, marrow extraction, grease preparation and the production of ornamental goods. Such activities variously relate to late spring, mid-winter, late summer and early fall use of the area.
Sources: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 7); Vickers, J. Roderick. 1989. The Ross Site (DlPd-3) 1980 Research (Archaeological Survey of Alberta Manuscript Series, No. 14). Alberta Culture and Multiculturalism. Edmonton.
The character-defining elements of the Ross Archaeological Site are reflected in such features as:
- its location in a riverine, native prairie environment adjacent to the south edge of the Oldman River;
- the representation of at least six clearly separated seasonal occupations of the Old Women's Phase of the Late Prehistoric Period;
- its large size and the depth of intact archaeological deposits;
- the density and diversity of artifacts within the identified occupations, including a wide range of materials and functional artifact types;
- the occurrence of rarer or more fragile cultural materials, including seeds, pottery, bone tools, ornaments such as pendants and beads, and ceremonial objects such as iniskim;
- its formation through alternating flood events, which provide a context for excellent cultural material preservation and effective interpretation of sequential site use;
- the presence of numerous discrete activity areas associated with their own complement of distinctive artifacts and features;
- evidence for the use of the site through a number of different seasons during the Late Prehistoric Period;
- the potential scientific value of the in-situ archaeological materials, which can provide valuable information about Old Women's Phase pottery, lithic tool and ornamental object manufacturing technologies;
- the inherent scientific value of archaeological material collections obtained through prior excavations.
Province of Alberta
Historical Resources Act
Provincial Historic Resource
Theme - Category and Type
- Peopling the Land
- People and the Environment
- Peopling the Land
- Canada's Earliest Inhabitants
Function - Category and Type
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, Old St. Stephen's College, 8820 - 112 Street, Edmonton, AB T6G 2P8 (File: Des. 7)
Cross-Reference to Collection