Under the direction of Dr. Kevin McBride, Ms Jaime Grant will collect data for her doctoral dissertation. Her research focuses on the Archaic Period, which dates from ca. 10,000 to 2,700 years ago in New England and she wishes to understand how, over this long time interval, prehistoric inhabitants of the Connecticut River Valley adapted to changing environmental conditions. During this period the region underwent considerable environmental change as the ice from the last glaciation retreated, lakes and wetlands slowly dried and the Connecticut River Valley in its modern form emerged. While considerable data, both geological and archaeological are available, they are difficult to interpret. For archaeological materials the problem is that while the distribution of known sites can be plotted the resultant pattern can be explained in multiple ways. It is not possible to know whether distributions reflect human behavior or factors related to differential site preservation. Because the Connecticut River has changed course over its history it is possible that some sites were destroyed as a byproduct of this process. It is also possible that site discovery is systematically biased because of differential burial under riverine deposits. To address this issue Ms Grant will work to reconstruct the geological history of one portion of the Valley between Wethersfield and Hartford Connecticut. The collection of core samples will be used to reconstruct the floodplain evolution of this riverine lowland and alluvial dynamics will be reconstructed. The geomorphological and archaeological data will be integrated into a geographic information system to relate these two variables. With this information it will then be possible to trace, over a long time interval, the interaction between environmental change and human response.
This work is also important because it will further the academic and intellectual development of a promising graduate student.