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Porcupine Strand Archaeological Project

Labrador Archaic biface from the Strand.

Since 2001, Dr. Rankin has directed an archaeological survey of an area of coastal Labrador known as the Porcupine Strand. This is a region of sand beach and dunes, some 90 km in extent, stretching from Sandwich Bay in the south to Groswater Bay in the north, and containing a number of unique landscapes. It has been occupied by several cultural groups over the past 9000 years, and probably is the ‘wunderstrand’ mentioned in the Viking sagas.

The project has located hundreds of new archaeological sites, and crews consisting of students from Memorial University and local Labrador communities have conducted excavations at several of them. Two of the more important sites are Upper Sandy Cove 3, and Snack Cove 3.

Upper Sandy Cove 3. This site is located in a series of blowouts on the coast immediately south of Groswater Bay. Excavations at the site by Dr. Rankin and her crew uncovered traces of 3 Maritime Archaic longhouses, occupied nearly 6000 years ago. In addition to extending the known geographical range of the Sandy Cove variety of the Maritime Archaic, the site provides the earliest evidence to date of longhouses within the Maritime Archaic tradition.

Upper Sandy Cove 3 site in the mist, before excavation.

Snack Cove 3. Snack Cove is located near the eastern tip of Huntington Island, at the mouth of Sandwich Bay. Snack Cove 3 is a late pre-contact to early contact Thule/Inuit site, containing a number of sod-walled semi-subterranean houses as well as boulder tent rings. Excavations in three of the sod-walled houses have revealed well-preserved flag stone floors, entrance passages and upright stone dividers, as well as numerous artifacts of both Aboriginal and European manufacture.

An ulu from Snack Cove 3 site.