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Lab number
Field number
Material dated
marine shells
Taxa dated
Mya arenaria (identified by A.S. Dyke)
shoreline near base of cliff, on a low shore at the edge of a drumlin on the western headland to Chezzetcook Inlet, about 1.75 km seaward of Grand Desert, Nova Scotia
Map sheet
11 D/11
R.B. Taylor
Measured Age
700 ± 60
Normalized Age
1130 ± 60
δ13C (per mil)
sea level change, lagoon submergence
peat in wave washover sand overtop beach sand
Additional information
elevation above geodetic datum
Comment (R.B. Taylor): Radiocarbon dates on material collected from the vicinity of Chezzetcook Inlet suggest a rate of sea level rise between 2 and 4 mm/a during the last 5000 years (Carter et al., 1992). A sample of freshwater peat from a depth of 1.34 m at Seaforth, close to the shell site, had an age of 760 ± 80 BP (Beta-28285). Also wood from a stump, in situ at 0.0 m elevation, was 590 ± 60 BP (normalized age; GSC-5560) embedded in peat overlying till nearby. The tree would have grown when sea level was 1.5 m lower than present. Situated on a low shore at the edge of a drumlin on the western headland to Chezzetcook Inlet it would have been an attractive place to stop or camp. At present the shells are exposed in a fresh wave-cut bank composed of wave washover sand overtop of beach sand. The shells lie on glacial till extending from the drumlin. The present shoreline has retreated 56 m landward between 1988 and 2003 which is a rate of 3.8 m/a. There is no evidence of higher than present sea levels which suggests the dated shells were the consequence of human activity. It is concluded they do not indicate higher water levels in the lagoon. A further investigation of the site resulted in the discovery of gastropod shells and a couple of pipe stems. One pipe stem had a larger diameter bore which predates the 1800s and possibly from the 16th or 17th century. The site could date to early contact period (ca. 1500-1600); it is not possible at this time to provide the age based on the pipe stems alone (S. Powell, N.S. Museum, pers. comm., 2003). This is not the first evidence of a older human activity in the Chezzetcook area. Scott et al. (1995) observed oyster shells that dated to 2495 ± 115 BP (GX-18453) 5.5m below surface of a core collected in the west marsh at the head of Chezzetcook Inlet. No oysters lived along the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia at that time, but oysters were available in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, therefore they attributed the oysters to trade between coastal Indians and tribes from the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Comment (S. Powell and D. Christianson): Further archaeological investigations at the site allows us to at least say that the site is a Contact Period 'campsite' or 'settlement site' possibly with a Late Maritime Woodland component. The site was likely occupied on a seasonal basis at least partly to harvest nearby clam flats, but other subsistence resources were also likely exploited. The Maritime Woodland Period is generally held to date between 2600 to 500 years ago. The site dates to the latter part of that range and is consistent with the C-14 date obtained. The absence of ceramics also suggest a late pre-contact occupation. It may have also been occupied into the historic period, perhaps during the 1600's / 1700's, but we do not have enough evidence to be sure. The historic component is defined by the pipe stems and the pig teeth found.