M.A. Theses: Gabriella Prager, 1980

Behavioural Implications of Cultural Formation Processes: An Example From Fur Trade Archaeology

Quantitative comparisons were made between Hudson's Bay Company and the North West Company inventories of fur trade goods, and archaeological collections from two 18th Century fur trade posts. This study was designed to determine the relationships between material items in cultural context and in corresponding archaeological context. The quantifications consisted of direct frequency and relative proportion comparisons between individual artifact types and between functional groups, ratios, relative ranking of artifact types and functional groups, and simple presence/absence of artifact types. Hypotheses were formulated concerning archaeological effects of differential behavior in regulating the condition of and the manner in which different cultural objects are deposited.

The results indicated that no simple quantitative relationship exists between these historic inventories and the archaeological assemblages; however, in terms of basic presence of artifact types, a high degree of representation was noted. Some significant aspects of tool use and discard behavior were identified as contributors to the formation of particular configurations of archaeological deposits. Based on these results some generalizations were proposed which should be applicable to other types of cultural deposits. It is suggested that historical archaeology is a valuable and unique aid in the determination of some aspects of human behavior from archaeological deposits and more research should directed toward such aims.