Graduation Term


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Department of Sociology and Anthropology: Archaeology

Committee Chair

James M. Skibo


Despite the integral role that caves and rockshelters have traditionally played in archaeological inquiry throughout North America, they have largely been neglected as a focus of study and recorded examples have been poorly integrated into regional discourse in the Upper Great Lakes region. Most rockshelters in the Upper Great Lakes region formed as sea caves during higher lake level stages and became increasingly terrestrial as lake levels receded, resulting in an abundance of rockshelters and other shoreline features that are now inland from the current shoreline, very few of which have been subjected to archaeological investigation.

To address this disparity, archaeological testing of selected locations on Grand Island was conducted under the direction of the Grand Island Archaeological Program in June and July 2015 in an attempt to assess the research potential of these features. This field work successfully identified two Woodland period rockshelter sites located on Grand Island's southern shore, Moss Cave (FS 09-10-03-1076) and Miner's Pit Cave (FS 09-10-03-1077). These sites are interpreted using a multiscalar approach that articulates site-level patterns with other sources of information to draw comparisons from

contemporaneous sites on Grand Island and similar rockshelter sites in the Upper Great Lakes region. Informed by a theoretical framework that seeks to accommodate the multiplicity and complexity of hunter-gatherer relationships with the landscape, and supported by ethnohistorical accounts, this research seeks to widen the interpretive potential of rockshelters in the Upper Great Lakes by arguing that these rockshelters were likely considered ceremonial spaces that provided a space to communicate with other-than-human entities, or the manitous.


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