Comparison of Elevations of Archaeological Sites and Calculated Sea Levels in Arctic Canada


  • J.T. Andrews
  • Robert McGhee
  • Lorna McKenzie-Pollock



Art, Biographies, History, Inuit, Starvation, Baker Lake region, Nunavut, Garry Lake region


Based on a study of postglacial uplift in the Canadian Arctic, it has been proposed that relative emergence can be estimated if the age and elevation of late-glacial marine limits are known. This suggestion is used to construct 5 maps showing the amounts of relative sea level emergence since 4000, 3200, 2400, 1600 and 800 BP. The archaeological sequence of coastal arctic Canada has been artificially divided into 5 corresponding 800-year periods. Eighty-four archaeological sites are examined; 71 of these appear to have been located with reference to contemporaneous sea level. The mean elevation of the 71 sites is only 5.2 m above the interpolated sea level for each period; the Spearman rank correlation between site elevations and interpolated sea level is 0.82. The maps can therefore be used to delimit area of search for cultural remains of specific ages in archaeological reconnaissance, but the relationship is not sufficiently close to allow the construction of a detailed chronological sequence using elevation data alone.