Lonely Planet Writer

Alberta grave find sheds light on ancient trading routes

While checking gopher traps around his farm near Viking, Alberta, Brian Rozmahel stumbled upon something that would begin unraveling an anthropological mystery. Rozmahel had found a human skull tucked into the opening of a badger hole. Rozmahel called a relative in the RCMP, and his field soon became wrapped in crime scene tape and crisscrossed with the footprints of Mountie boots.

Amazing archaeological find in Canada.
Amazing archaeological find in Canada. Image by tuchodi / CC BY 2.0

When RCMP investigators concluded that the remains were from the early nineteenth century, the investigation was handed over to archaeologists from the Alberta government. Meanwhile, a group of indigenous elders came to the site to perform a ceremony at the newfound gravesite. Further excavation found the complete human skeleton of a young girl buried alongside thousands of beads, jewellery and other artefacts. The find shed new light on the trading patterns of pre-European cultures.

Evidence suggested the individual was buried before European settlement of the area, although her gravesite contained European-style brass buttons and what might have been a European military jacket. The artefacts and location suggest the girl was part of a group of travelling traders following a route between European outposts and indigenous settlements in southern Alberta. Archaeologists say the items found in the gravesite indicate the woman was of high status, possibly having a connection to a chief or other leader. Read more: cbc.ca