Mahone Evidence Testing

Private triangle mercantilism
A smuggler’s entrepôt during the Ancien Régime?

Project start: March 2017
Hypotheses at: May 2017

General framework – Sometimes a hole in the data is the data


A. Route Archaeology/History – Archives Search for Testable Evidence

the bay of the privateers

  • Can local privateer activity be documented back to the 16th-18th century period?
  • Company archives search – especially Dutch WIC & VOC companies, New England, New France, Canada, France, England,  West Indies
  • National archives – England, USA, Canada, France, Spain, Portugal, The Netherlands, Belgium, West Indies States, Hanseatic League
  • Trading Patterns mapping – heat maps of the data – what are the hidden patterns of known smuggling trade flow?

Archival/Historical Research

  • Acadian-New England vs. Imperial Trade
  • Acadian and the American and French Revolutions of 1776-1796
  • Roots of Revolutions – an exchange of goods, an exchange of the idea of liberty?
  • Did Acadian independence and anti-tax-mindedness influence revolutionary thinking?

Using weather to narrow the archival search

  • { coming soon }


B. Commercial Route Science Techniques

Geochemical Trace Sampling
Does geochemical analysis identify origin of the product (ex. NS Windsor Formation)?

  • Geotrace samples to test for location of possible geological formation source
  • Compare samples of pre-1697 C mortar, plaster, and whitewash in Nova Scotia, New England, Newfoundland, Acadia, West Indies
  • Compare buildings, shipwrecks and artifacts of the period for surface deposition
  • Do samples suggest a match?

Acadia/New France

  • Investigate Acadian artifacts for lime and mortar deposition
  • perform core sampling of historic dikes – lime deposition at 16th-18th century depth?
  • Do samples suggest a match to Windsor Formation?

Private Triangle Trade

  • North Atlantic Colonies (England/Britain, New Netherland, New Sweden, New France) + Africa + West Indies
  • Research in Canada, USA, UK, France, The Netherlands, French West Indies, English West Indies
  • Commercial and smugglers’ trading webs across the pre-industrial world during the Age of Sail
  • Map evidence to test for trading patterns – heat maps of the data
  • Do they suggest a trading relationship or pattern?

C. Remote Sensing Archaeology

  1. Sea-level rise can be reverse-engineered back to the 17th century.
  2. Use 16th-18th Century shoreline estimates and nautical charts to evaluate possible sites for field investigation.
  3. Match against air and satellite remote sensing imagery.


D. Site Archaeology using advice of Master Mariner with 16th-18th Century historical knowledge

16th-18th Century seasonal encampments

  • Backdating sea-level drops back to 15th-18th century
    • (estimate 0.4 to 1.4m) – [“sea”, p. ]
    • Use this data to evaluate possible sites for field investigation
    • Use air & satellite remote sensing x machine learning analysis to zero in on sites of interest.
  • What are the likeliest sites that were above sea-level during the period?
    • develop priority list of needs of that era
    • with the help of sailing masters, and “hand’s-on” military/naval navigation experts of the Age of Sail
    • with the help of “16th-18th Century mariner/trading” era experts
    • with the help of historians in Nova Scotia, New England, UK, Bilbao (Spain) and La Rochelle (France)
    • define necessities for 16th-18th century limestone processing

E. Field Archaeology options

  • Backdating sea-level drops back to 15th-18th century
  • Statistically analyze and field-check glacial striation paths from Mahone Bay deposit
    • evaluate whether either culture used the hushing technique [See Lime Processing Methods – at Research Notes – coming soon]
    • map unsubmerged depositional landforms in the region that could have boulder deposits
    • map proximity of depositional features to Acadian and Mi’kmaq settlements and paths


E. Site Archaeology projects

  1. Ground-truthing & dive archaeology by professional archaeologists & diving volunteers.
  2. Obtain help from a ready pool of summer “dig site” volunteers & visitors.