Topographic Analysis of the Dorset Occupation at Phillip’s Garden, Northwestern Newfoundland: Implications for Dwelling Numbers, Forms, and Site Settlement

Christina Robinson and Patricia J. Wells

Abstract

A topographic survey of the Dorset site Phillip’s Garden identified 183 surface features that potentially expand present understandings of social life at the settlement. Its long history of archaeological excavations focused on depressions observable on the ground surface. Excavation confirmed them as large dwellings, which became the basis for describing a unique settlement pattern at the site. This survey detected more subtle depressions and other features, which while remaining untested, could reveal new settlement practices. The number of possible dwellings at the site could more than double earlier estimates, and many of those appear to be lightly constructed compared to excavated houses. The distribution of features shows variation in density and possibly, that feature construction may have involved incorporating other houses and the natural beach terraces. Issues of seasonality, household organization, and cultural and profiles are some of the implications that could be explored as a result of this survey.

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