The Bristol-Shiktehawk bifaces and Early Woodland ceremonialism in the middle St. John Valley, New Brunswick

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


University of New Brunswick


In the Maritime Peninsula, the visibility of Early Woodland ceremonialism is limited to a few sites that have been associated with burial complexes defined elsewhere in the Northeast. The biface assemblage excavated in the 1930s from the Bristol-Shiktehawk site, in the middle St. John River Valley, has been assumed to be ceremonial but has never been the subject of a thorough professional analysis. I conduct such an analysis based on a technological approach. My results support the view that the assemblage likely dates to the Early Woodland period, by establishing connections which are rooted temporally in the region but extend geographically towards the Midwest. I question the compartmentalizing nomenclature which structures our understanding of regional variations in manifestations of ceremonialism, suggesting a more complex but fluid cultural landscape for the period around 3500 to 2000 B.P., and explore the limitations posed by the theoretical framework often applied to questions of ritual in archaeology.