Entry Page


Research Areas

Lower Great Lakes

South America

Student Support


Recent Publications



Also visit Dr. Rankin's Archaeology Unit  Web Page.

Student Support

Both Graduate and Undergraduate students have the opportunity to participate in Dr. Rankin’s field work and other research.

Undergraduate: Many undergraduate students have been paid field assistants on Dr. Rankin’s research trips to Labrador, where they have participated in archaeological survey and excavation, and in the processing and cataloguing of artifacts in the field lab. She also employs students during the school year as research assistants, with the benefit of Memorial University programmes for undergraduate student employment. Some students have written undergraduate Honours Theses based on aspects of Dr. Rankin’s research.

Dr. Rankin and crew on board the schooner Down North on the way to Labrador. Lisa Rankin and crew on board the schooner Down North on the way to Labrador.

Graduate: Dr. Rankin has supervised M.A. and Ph. D. students doing research in coastal and interior Labrador, in the lower Great Lakes, and in New England. In almost all cases, Dr. Rankin has been able to provide or assist with funding and research opportunities for her students’ theses and dissertations. In addition, her students have been remarkably successful in their own applications to funding agencies.

PhD Theses supervised by Dr. Rankin:

R. Alan Mounier 2008
The Aboriginal Exploitation of Cuesta Quartzite in Southern New Jersey

M.A. theses supervised by Dr. Rankin:

Christopher Wolff, 2003
Middle Dorset in Southern Labrador: An Examination of three small sites from the Porcupine Strand.

Jennifer Campbell 2004
The Huron of the Kawartha Lakes: Faunal Exploitation Strategies as indicators of Change During the Pre, Proto and Historic Periods.

Natalie Brewster 2005
The Inuit in Southern Labrador: A View from Snack Cove.
(Subsequently published as Occasional Papers in Northeastern Archaeology No. 15)

The Inuit in Southern Labrador: A View from Snack Cove.
Natalie Brewster's Publication.

Jennifer Smith 2005
Shifting Sites and Shifting Sands: A Record of Landscape Change and Prehistoric Cultures from Porcupine Strand, Labrador.
(Dr. Rankin was on the supervisory committee of this M.A. thesis, written in the Department of Geography, and based on her research on the Porcupine Strand in Labrador)

Scott Neilsen 2006
Intermediate Indians: The View from Ushpitun 2 and Pmiusiku 1.

Jamie Brake 2007
Ashuanipi Kupitan: Excavation at the Ferguson Bay 1 Site in Western Labrador.
(Subsequently published as Occasional Papers in Northeastern Archaeology No. 18)

The Ferguson Bay 1 Site and the Culture History of Western Labrador.
Jamie Brake's Publication.

Jessica E. Pace 2008
This is Where I Live, but it's not my Home: Archaeology and identity in Sandwich Bay, Labrador.

K. Stuart Barnable 2008
Rattling Brook 1 (DgAt-1): An Examination of Middle Dorest Inner Bay Settlements.

Matthew Beaudoin 2008
An Archaeological Examination of a Multi-Ethnic Sod House in Labrador (FkBg-24).

Mariane Hardenberg 2009
In Search of Thule Children: Miniature Playthings as a Means of Socializing Children.

Robyn Fleming 2009
Robert's Cove (DjAv-05): A Transitional Recent Indian Site on the Northeast Coast.

Corey Hutchings 2011
Complexity and Continuity: Labrador Archaic Occupations at Nulliak Cove.

Laura Kelvin 2011
The Inuit-Metis of Sandwich Bay: Oral Histories and Archaeology.

Phoebe Murphy 2011
The Southern Labrador Component of the Labrador Inuit Communal House Phase: An Analysis of an 18th-century Inuit House at Huntingdon Island 5, Sandwich Bay, Labrador. (Subsequently published as Occasional Papers in Northeastern Archaeology No. 19)

Identifying the Inuit Communal House Phase in Southern Labrador.
Phoebe Murphy's Publication.

Eliza Brandy 2013
Inuit Animal Use and Shifting Identities in 19th Century Labrador: The Zooarchaeology of Snooks Cove.

Joshua Keddy 2013
An Analysis of Artifact Morphology and Material Frequency in Eight Early to Middle Labrador Archaic Lithic Assemblages from Northern Labrador.

Dr. Rankin is currently supervising 3 Ph.D. students, and 7 M.A. students.

Current Student Research PhDs

Mikak's House Black Island Site.

Amelia Fay, PhD Candidate
Research title: An Extraordinary Woman, An Extraordinary Life: Excavating Mikak's House to Explore the Status of Women and the Effects of Colonialism in 18th Century Labrador.

My research has three primary objectives: 1) to examine the effects of colonialism on 18th century Inuit socio-economic relationships through the excavation of a dwelling on Black Island, Labrador; 2) to explore gender relations, in particular how the lives of Inuit women were affected by increased European interaction and the shift from a predominately subsistence-based to a mixed hunting/trading economy by comparing data from Black Island to similar data from other contact period collections; 3) to develop a collaborative research agenda with the Inuit of Nunatsiavut.

According to a 1776 census the Inuit woman Mikak lived in this dwelling on Black Island. Her life story is very significant in the history of Labrador as she was very influential in the granting of British land to the Moravian missionaries, who established their first mission in Nain in 1771, and heavily involved in the coastal baleen trade network. Excavating Mikak's dwelling will allow me to explore these research objectives and provide material to compare to other contact period dwellings; in so doing, I can determine if Mikak's unique status can be distinguished archaeologically and further contribute to the life history of this remarkable woman.

This past summer I completed preliminary mapping and testing of the sod houses on Black Island and am now in the process of analysing the data we collected. I plan to return during the summer of 2011 to complete the excavation.

Surveying portage trail along top of esker adjacent to Rivière aux Esquimaux, at south end of Kapitagas Channel, Labrador.

Scott Neilsen, ABD
Scott is entering the final year of the PhD program at Memorial. This past summer he completed his third, and final, season of fieldwork in the interior of Labrador, focusing on Ashuanipi Lake in Lab West. Survey work lead by Scott has resulted in the identification of numerous pre-contact, historic and ethnographic sites, the majority of which relate to the Innu occupation of the region. Fieldwork this past summer focused on excavation at four of these sites. Three of these four sites are multi-component sites, spanning from ca. 1600 BP thru 1980 AD. Detailed study of the lithic materials, soil samples and faunal remains from these three sites will go towards describing Innu tenure on Ashuanipi Lake, and how it has transformed through time. Comparison of these results with studies from other locations in the region will aide in the development of a profile of occupation for interior Labrador over the last 2000 years, which can then be compared to coastal descriptions developed in the 1980s and 90s. In the end, this will result in a more complete view of human occupation on the Labrador-Quebec peninsula over the last 2000 years.

Snook's Cove Archaeology Project
Snook's Cove Archaeology Project.

Brian Pritchard
There are two primary objectives of my doctoral research 1) to develop a typology of sod-house architecture relating to the ethnicity, or identity, of the European, Inuit, or Métis inhabitants, and 2) to better understand indigenous cultural developments and the nature of relations between European settlers and indigenous people during a period of time (A.D. 1800-1950) that has been neglected in Labrador studies. Owing to problems with determining unequivocally the ethnic, or cultural, association of recent phase sod-houses, past research has focused on early and communal-house phase settlements. Accordingly, this research will expand our understanding of European-indigenous interaction and cultural developments into the 20th century.

Current Student Research - MAs

Andrew Collins
Andrew Collins

Andrew Collins
My MA thesis will be directed toward the acquisition, movement and use of European ceramic goods by the Inuit on the Labrador coast during the 17th and 18th centuries. In particular, I aim to analyze and compare the ceramic assemblages from Sandwich Bay, on the South Coast, to assemblages from Central and Northern Labrador such as those at Eskimo Island. By doing this, I hope to gain a better understanding of how Labrador Inuit were obtaining and distributing European goods, what role the Sandwich Bay Inuit played in this exchange, and also to explore the broader social implications this information may have for Labrador Inuit.

Michelle Davies
Michelle Davies

Michelle Davies
My MA research will involve an analysis of the spatial distribution of gendered artefacts recovered from Labrador Inuit winter houses, which were occupied during the 'communal house phase' of the 18th century. Though similar in style, there are regional differences between communal houses that suggest that they may have served different purposes. To date, the communal houses excavated in southern Labrador are among the largest houses but appear to have been occupied briefly and contained minimal artefact assemblages. This stands in contrast to Inuit communal houses in northern Labrador which were often re-occupied and contain substantial artefact assemblages. By comparing gender associated artefacts from communal houses from northern, central and southern Labrador I hope to help shed light on the household activities of men and women and determine if the houses were being used in similar or different ways in the different regions.

PreDorset dwelling units, Nulliak
PreDorset dwelling units, Nulliak.

Andrea Wilson
My thesis centers on deriving seasonal information from PreDorset toolkit assemblages, but will also serve as a general analysis of PreDorset lithics. The PreDorset were the first inhabitants of the Canadian low Arctic, occupying a massive territory with little to no contact with other cultures. Studying metric aspects and material use in previously excavated collections comprises a significant part of my research, and will be completed at the Rooms Provincial Museum of NL, Canadian Museum of Civilization and the Smithsonian Institution. Mapping and partial excavation of three PreDorset dwelling units this summer at Nulliak, Northern Labrador, generated a lithic assemblage and architectural information.

Paulina Dobrota
Paulina Dobrota

Paulina Dobrota
My research focuses on the relationship between human groups, cultural practices and the environment in which they take place, with an additional focus on developing ways of interacting with the archaeological record that highlight these relationships. For my MA thesis, I am using three soil analysis methods, paleoethnobotanical floatation, geochemistry and micromorphology, to study tent ring floors from the summer component of Huntingdon Island 5 (FkBg-3), in Sandwich Bay. This research aims to reconstruct the taskscape associated with this Inuit summer camp; contrast data obtained from tent rings with the sizable amount of information already available from the winter sod houses previously excavated on the island; and develop a method geared to study tent rings, outdoor sites and other types of ephemeral occupations, generally connected to the summer season in Arctic and Subarctic regions. This approach is an operationalization of the anthropological understanding of Inuit social and spiritual life as segmented by seasonal pursuits and the scheduling of resources during the annual round.

By integrating the study of plant remains with geochemistry and pedological analysis, I aimed to put together a set of methods that comprehensively engage with soil ecology. This will allow me to understand taphonomical processes that impact summer camps as well as their environmental signatures, an approach that redefines humans as active environmental agents.

Tyrone Hamilton
Tyrone Hamilton

Tyrone Hamilton
My MA research will involve a geochemical provenance analysis of iron artifacts associated with Inuit sites along the coast of Labrador. With the iron materials having been salvaged from seasonal Basque whaling stations in southern Labrador during the early contact period of the 16th century, discerning how this newly introduced source of iron was being exploited and dispersed during this time can give us insights into the significance and impact of this resource on Inuit society at this period in history. For the purposes of my project I will be using Laser Ablation-Multiple Collector-Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry (LA-MC-ICP-MS) on several iron artifacts from Red Bay and early contact period Inuit sites along the coast of Labrador in order to determine the geographic extent of Basque iron in the Inuit archaeological record prior to 1600 CE.

Jeralyn Bohms
Jeralyn Bohms

Jeralyn Bohms
For my thesis, I will be excavating an 18th-century Inuit communal winter house at Double Mer Point in the Narrows of Hamilton Inlet, near the town of Rigolet, Labrador. Although one of the sites used by Richard Jordan to develop a timeline of Inuit occupation of Hamilton Inlet during the 1970s, only minimal excavations have been carried out at the site. Detailed investigations of the site will help to clarify this timeline, since other recent work at Eskimo Island and Snook's Cove indicates that Jordan's interpretation needs to be reevaluated. In addition, I will explore the relationship between the Inuit of Double Mer Point and the growing European population of traders and fishers in the area. I will compare Double Mer Point to other Inuit settlements in Labrador to see if the communal winter house is used in a manner similar to houses in northern Labrador, with their long-term occupation, or if it is more like an apparent southern Labrador variation, which was only occupied for a short time. In this way, Double Mer Point will provide some much-needed context for understanding the development of the communal winter house.