PhD Dissertations: Joseph Benmouyal, 1982

North Gaspe Prehistory

This thesis presents the results of three salvage field seasons (1973-1975) of prehistoric research conducted on the north coast of the Gaspe Peninsula, Quebec. In this archaeologically unknown region, on the terraces of the Goldthwait Sea between Les Mechins and Marsoui, seven sites were excavated and 27 others were surface collected. This thesis is concerned with the two preliminary aims of archaeology: to reconstruct the cultural sequence of the region and to understand some aspects of prehistoric adaptation.

Detailed analyses of the sites and tool assemblages are presented. They indicate that the area of research was settled between at least 6000 B.P. and the six century of our era. The earliest occupations recognized are related to the Late Paleo-Indian stage which seems to have persisted longer here than elsewhere in the Northeast. They are associated with long parallel-sided, pressure-flaked points, herein named Ste-Anne points and other tool forms which indicate a distant western origin, probably around the Great Lakes, according to our present knowledge. During the following stage, the Gaspe Tradition (ca. 5000 - 1300 B.P.), an early and a late period are distinguished. This tradition appears to be the result of local evolution, and shows few outside influences except during the late period. It is argued that throughout the sequence a maritime adaptation prevailed, and adaptation which probably existed during the Paleo-Indian stage in the Northeast. For the Gaspe, a model of subsistence similar to that of the historical Micmacs is proposed.

Sometime after the sixth century A.D., north Gaspe seems to have become deserted, a situation witnessed at contact when Iroquoian groups seasonally organized fishing expeditions along these shores.