For the past few months, we’ve had the pleasure of working with and getting to know Stéphane Noël, a visiting Canadian doctoral student. Stéphane was doing some very interesting, technical work and agreed to write a short description of it for the blog. Here’s what he had to say:
For those of you I didn’t have the opportunity to meet, my name is Stéphane Noël, and I am a doctoral candidate in archaeology at Université Laval in Québec City. I’ve had the chance to come to the Fiske Center for a three months on a SSHRC-funded internship, to work on some specialized analyses of faunal material with Dr. David Landon. For my Ph.D., I am working on French Acadian farm sites in the Maritime Provinces of Canada, dating roughly from the 1660s to 1755.
I just wanted to briefly explain what I was doing over here, and answer some of the lingering questions some of you have, I am sure!
“Hey Stéphane, how are the shells going?”
Shells are great! For the past few months, I have been working with Dr. Landon and grad student Ryan Hunter on sectioning soft-shell clams from different sites. We’ve looked at shells from the Eastern Pequot reservation in Connecticut, the Sylvester Manor site on Shelter Island, NY, and the Melanson Settlement in Nova Scotia. Apart from the fact that I broke two expensive blades after the first few cuts, the cutting process went quite well and was actually enjoyable. I do like gadgets and lab stuff. Interpretation of the growth increments in order to figure out the age and season of death was more complicated. The Eastern Pequot shells looked fantastic, but the shells from the Melanson Settlement are very old and the season is hard to interpret. Nevertheless, we were still able to get some information out of it! In the long run, I am planning on collecting modern shells from different places in the Maritimes and sectioning some in order to better understand the effect of tides, water temperature, etc. on the growth increments.
“Hey Stéphane, what’s going on with your teeth?”
We also tried to sample some teeth from my site for cementochronology. We got good information about age and some season of death. If the preservation would have been better, we probably could have had more information. We also interpreted some slides from Dr. Steinberg’s sites in Iceland, with much more confidence! It seems that good organic preservation greatly affects how the tooth microstructure preserves.
Apart from this, I’ve been working on a paper I gave during the Brown Bag talks series here at UMass Boston, and was glad see the room filled up. J I also sat in Steve Silliman’s Historical Archaeology grad seminar, which was a lot of fun. All the grad students are very smart and fun, and I really enjoyed talking about ideas and listening to all of you guys!
I had an amazing time in Boston and this internship was everything I hoped for. I learned new analytical techniques, got some good results for my dissertation, and most importantly, I’ve got to know all of you guys at the Fiske Center and the Anthropology Dept. Thank you so much to all of you for your hospitality and generosity. And a special thank you to David for being such a generous, patient and enthusiastic mentor, colleague and friend!
Hope to see you around and come see us in Québec City anytime!