Creating a Millennial-Long Chronology in Northern Canada: Dendroarchaeological Dating of the Moose Horn Pass Caribou Fence (KjRx-1), Mackenzie Mountains, NT
: The Moose Horn Pass Caribou Fence site (KjRx-1) consists of three wooden fences located in a remote area of the Mackenzie Mountains in Canada's Northwest Territories. Situated in the traditional homeland of the Shúhtagot'ine (Mountain Dene), they were used to assist past hunters to harvest northern mountain caribou by channeling multiple animals toward kill zones. The main fence is nearly 800 m in length and terminates in a corral structure after descending from high ground into a valley. The
... two smaller fences are located north and south of the main fence, and they do not descend into the valley. Standard dendrochronological methods were employed to determine the ages of wood taken from the fence structures. Seventy-five living white spruce (Picea glauca) trees in the area were cored to determine the overall tree-ring growth patterns in the local environment. The chronology of living trees was supplemented by the inclusion of 29 standing-dead trees to establish a longer chronology of dated ring widths. Sixty-two of 89 cross-sections cut from the fence timbers were crossdated and added to the overall chronology, which created a well-replicated chronology of ring-widths from 972 to 2016 C.E. The terminal dates of material from the three fence systems suggest that the complex was built from trees that died over a wide temporal period, spanning the years 1314 to 1876 C.E, with clusters of dates between ca. 1420–1480 and 1580–1750 C.E. The millennial-long chronology developed in this study can now be used as a base to assist in dendroarchaeological dating of many more artifacts from the region.