|Frédéric Dussault in a still standing sod house in |
Qaqaitsut, Greenland. Photo: Erika Sakrison.
|Plans and Profiles #15. Frédéric Dussault, Archaeoentomology on Dorset Palaeoeskimo sites in Newfoundland|
1) Tell me a little bit about your project.
I am still in my first year of the PhD program at MUN and I will be undertaking my first field season for my research this summer, but I will try to summarize it as much as I can.
|Animal ectoparasites can be used as witness to |
the presence of the animal. The picture is a
dog louse that i recovered from samples from
Dogs Island in Labrador (HeCg-08).
2) How did you become interested in this particular problem?
|Picture of the Cape Grinnell site in |
Greenland, where I worked on Inuighuit
structures for my MA.
3) What would be the best case scenario for your upcoming season(s) of fieldwork?
|Human louse found in samples from the Cape Grinnell site.|
4) If you could ask the people who lived at your site(s) one question what would it be?
That is a good one. I think I would ask them how they perceive their environment, what do they think of the forest, the landscape and even how do they feel about the insects around them. During my MA, I read about the oral tradition of the Greenland Inuits and I became fascinated with it. It is so rich and full of information about the perception of insects and the relation past humans had with them. I would like to know if the Dorset simply hated insect or if they had a use for them? Are there stories, myths or legends relating to the different insects, what was their role in the myths and stories ? I probably would end up asking them about their food, I love to know what people eat and know how they prepare it.
Whale bone comb that was found during the field work in Qaqaitsut, Greenland, the second site I was studying for my MA.
5) Why did you choose Memorial University of Newfoundland?
|Although we were at Cape Grinnell to excavate Inughuit |
houses, we had the chance to dig older houses,
such as this Indepedence I structure.
The second reason why I chose MUN is the community. Over the last couple of years, different students from Laval and other people I know who have been coming over here for their research only gave positive feedback. Right from the start, when I met people from here and when I arrived last fall, I already felt at home. People are kind and really helpful.
6) How do you unwind when you need to get away from your research?
It depends. There is a lot of different ways I spend my downtime. One of the first things is videogames, either on the computer or on the PS3. They really allow me to disconnect completely from my research and everything related to it.
I also spend a lot of time in the kitchen. I used to be a chef and, even if I stopped cooking professionally and started school all over again, cooking remains a passion for me. Making good meals, spending time around the table with a good bottle of wine (or beer !), good food and friends are things I really enjoy. When I start cooking, I never know what will happen since I rarely use a recipe. I always end up with food for an army and having way too many leftovers.
Some people are obsessed with shopping for clothes or shoes. I my case, it is food. I always get excited when I discover new spices, new products and ways to prepare food. Finding a good bakery that makes the perfect loaf of bread or croissant is a moment of pure pleasure for me.
7) Do you have any lucky objects, functional or otherwise that you always take into the field with you?
Inughuit house that we excavated at Qaqaitsut in Greenland.
8) What archaeological discovery or project do you wish you could have been part of?
I would have to say the mummies of Qilakitsoq. Since the end of my BA and all through my MA, the book The Greenland Mummies has always been on my desk. At first, I was interested by the entomological studies that they did on the bodies, but after reading the book, I was just amazed by how well they were preserved and how exceptional these find were.
9) What books or websites would you recommend if people want to learn more about your area of interest in general? Or your project in particular?
I think that the site of Port au Choix is well known and there is a lot of literature about this exceptional site, such as The Cultural Landscapes of Port au Choix Precontact Hunter-Gatherers of Northwestern Newfoundland. The introductory chapter, by Renouf (2011) gives a very good idea of the archaeological site, as well as the history of archaeological research.
|Coleoptera (beetles) form the main body |
of the insects we find in the samples.
Elytron of a Latridius minutus group
found in a sample from the House B on
the Great Caribou Island, Labrador
Elias, S. A.
2010. Advances in Quaternary Entomology. Development in Quaternary Sciences 12. Elsevier, Amsterdam.
Renouf, M. A. P.
2011. Introduction: Archaeology at Port au Choix. In The Cultural Landscapes of Port au Choix Precontact Hunter-Gatherers of Northwestern Newfoundland, edited by M. A. P. Renouf, pp. 1-21. Springer, New York.
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Photo Credits:Frédéric Dussault unless otherwise noted in the captions
Plans and Profiles Banner, Tim Rast based on a linocut by Lori White