Majorville Cairn and Medicine Wheel site, Alberta
LccE 78 A33 C24 1975 Microfiche
LcshIndians of North America - Alberta - Antiquities
MetadataShow full item record
AbstractThe Majorville cairn and medicine wheel site, located south of Bassano, Alberta,on the banks of the Bow River, consists of a large cairn which, constructed of field stones and prairie soils, sits in the centre of a medicine wheel. The following thesis is a discussion of the analysis of data recovered from the 1971 excavation of the Majorville site. Nearly 3000 artifacts were recovered and analysis of flake debitage indicate that all stages of tool manufacture were carried out at the site. Lithic types identified in the flake debitage demonstrate utilization of specific lithic types through sequential cultural phases or during specific cairn intervals. A variety of animal and bird bone fragments was recovered from the cairn but they demonstrate no apparent association of species or elements with specific cairn intervals. The cairn was excavated in a series of layers which proved successful in demonstrating the chronological sequence of cairn construction. Excavation methods employed enabled the utilization of projectile point typology seriation analysis, obsidian hydration dating techniques and radiocarbon dating to establish the cairns chronological sequence. It seems clear that the Majorville cairn was constructed in a series of culturally distinguishable accretional domes. Analysis demonstrates that cairn construction was initiated in the Oxbow Complex (ca. 3200 B.C.) and was used and added to intermittently over the ensuing 5000 years by six subsequent cultural phases, its use ending with the Historic Period. The Majorville site appears to have functioned as a ceremonial site; however, its exact function is questionable. It seems likely that the site represents a practice closely related to the lifestyle of the plainsmen over five millenia suggesting the site represents a place for cerernonialisrn performed to ensure the fertility and increase of the bison herds. This function is suggested by the artifact inventory. It is therefore indicated that an apparently new cultural practice, the construction of elaborate ceremonial features was introduced into the Plains during the Oxbow Complex, the stimulus for such activity apparently corning from outside the Plains as there are no connections in the cairn to pre-Oxbow Plains cultural phases. Thus the known theology and ritual of recent Plains tribes that previously appeared to be a manifestation of the last 1000 years has its origin instead at least to the era 3000 B.C., suggesting that in at least one aspect of culture the natives of Southern Alberta, if not of the Northern Plains, had maintained a stable ceremonial tradition since at least 3000 B.C.
Bibliography: p. 211-215.
CitationCalder, J. M. (1975). Majorville Cairn and Medicine Wheel site, Alberta (Unpublished master's thesis). University of Calgary, Calgary, AB. doi:10.11575/PRISM/20463
University of Calgary graduate students retain copyright ownership and moral rights for their thesis. You may use this material in any way that is permitted by the Copyright Act or through licensing that has been assigned to the document. For uses that are not allowable under copyright legislation or licensing, you are required to seek permission.