R.I.P Hilary Stewart, 1924-2014

Hilary Stewart fish weir

Hilary Stewart drawing of a fish weir. Source: bcheritage.ca

Sad news out of Quadra Island with the news that Northwest Coast archaeological legend Hilary Stewart passed away on June 5th, at the age of 90.  The local newspaper the Discovery Islander has a full obituary (page 2) (PDF) written by her friend, anthropologist Joy Inglis.

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Visit to the UVic Fieldschool on Prevost Island in the Salish Sea

UVic field school students at work on Prevost Island inland midden site.

UVic field school students at work on Prevost Island inland midden site. Trust me, there really are dense midden deposits at this site.

I had a good visit the other day to the UVic archaeological field school, which is on Prevost Island in the Salish Sea.  Prevost is a large island of about 1700 acres, mostly privately owned by an active farming family, but part of lies within Gulf Islands National Park Reserve.  In some ways, it is the hub of the southern Gulf Islands, lying squarely between Salt Spring, Galiano, Pender and Mayne Islands. There’s no ferry to this island, so it’s surprisingly off the beaten track considering how centrally located it is.  I suspect that’s a car-centric view, and taking the perspective of a maritime cultural landscape, this is one of the best-connected islands in the Salish Sea.

Anyway, the UVic fieldschool is being taught by doctoral student Eric McLay, whose research focuses on inland shell middens in the Salish Sea.  These are middens well away from the high tide line — in the case of Prevost, about 800 metres inland.  Several dozen comparable sites are known, such as the ones near the rockshelter burials on Gabriola Island.  Why people brought substantial quantities of shell to these inland locations is something of a mystery, one which Eric, with the help of the fieldschool students and First Nations participants, and the support of the Wenner-Gren Foundation, aims to shed light on.

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Public Talks on Quadra Island, Monday June 16

Quadra Clam Gardens.  Source: Groesbeck et al. PLOS-1, 2014.

Quadra Island Clam Gardens. Source: Groesbeck et al. PLOS-1, 2014.

Nuyumbalees Cultural Centre and Discovery Passage SeaLife Society present:

1. Sea Level History of the Discovery Islands.
Daryl Fedje, University of Victoria

2. Quadra Island’s Ancient Clam Gardens.
Dana Lepofsky, Simon Fraser University

Monday, June 16th | 7 pm Quadra Island Community Centre

So I usually limit my announcements of public talks to those happening in the Victoria backyard of Blog World Headquarters but it so happens there is one exceptional one coming up on Quadra Island, where I’ll be spending the next week.  The talk, actually two talks, will focus on two archaeological projects underway up there.  The poster advertising the talks is here, or you can read more below.

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ASBC Victoria talk: Tuesday May 20, Michelle Puckett on Quadra Is. Clam Gardens

Gwaii Haanas clam garden.

Clam garden in southern Haida Gwaii.  Note the rock wall forming the flat terrace feature.

Transforming the Beach, Transforming our Thinking: Ancient Clam Gardens of Northern Quadra Island, BC.

Michelle Puckett (presenter) and Amy Groesbeck, Dana Lepofsky, Anne Salomon, Kirsten Rowell, Nicole Smith and Sue Formosa

Tuesday, May 20th, 7:30pm at the University of Victoria, Cornett Building, Room B129.  All welcome, free.

SFU graduate student Michelle Puckett (formerly UVIC’s own) is giving the May ASBC Victoria talk – “clam gardens”.  These intertidal features have taken NW Coast archaeology by storm over the last 15 years or so.  Each one is a deliberate alteration of the beach in order to enhance shellfish productivity.  Hundreds of these are now known, and as archaeologists’ eyes become more tuned to this site type I expect hundreds more to be recorded.  Being, in effect, a kind of mariculture or aquaculture, these are important not only to our understanding of long term histories on the coast (they challenge the anthropological type “hunter-gatherer”) but they will also become important in land claims, I am sure. Click below to read the abstract and bio for this talk.

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Visit to the UNBC Fieldschool on Calvert Island

Deep unit at ElTa-4, Calvert Island.

Deep unit at Luxvbalis, EjTa-4, Calvert Island.

This blog’s world headquarters has temporarily moved out to the central coast, where yours truly is tagging along with Dr. Duncan McLaren and his team working on the early period archaeology and landscape history of the Hakai area.  The project is sponsored in very generous style by the Hakai Beach Institute, which also funds and facilitates a variety of research on the cultural and natural history of this beautiful and sensitive area. One of the other Hakai projects is an archaeological fieldschool directed by Dr. Farid Rahemtulla of the University of Northern BC.  I wrote about this fieldschool once before and you can get some background on this site (EjTa-4, Luxvbalis) at that link. The site is in the traditional territory of the Heiltsuk and Wuikinuxv First Nations.  Yesterday I had the chance to visit the site, get shown around by Farid, and hang out at the screens with his great students – and to be the annoying guy with a camera.

So it’s a really deep site.  Above you can see Kira Cari in this years main excavation unit.  They are expanding a unit from last year which went down 4.7 metres or so without bottoming out. As of yesterday, they are about 2.4 units down.  Basal dates so far are in the 6-7,000 year old range but this might get older since the bottom is not yet reached and there may be older cultural deposits intact in the intertidal zone as well. Continue reading

ASBC Victoria Talk Thursday April 17: Hein Bjerck on Colonizing Scandinavian Seascapes

Lateglacial shoreline at Vega, northern Norway, 96m asl today. The first settlers (9500–9000 BC) had to cross 20km of open sea from the mainland (in the background) to reach the island, a strong indication that seaworthy vessels were at their disposal (photograph H.M. Breivik).

Late glacial shoreline at Vega, northern Norway, +96m asl today. The first settlers (9500–9000 BC) had to cross 20km of open sea from the mainland (in the background) to reach the island, a strong indication that seaworthy vessels were at their disposal (photograph H.M. Breivik).

The Colonization of Scandinavian Seascapes in the Pleistocene/Holocene transition.

Dr. Hein B. Bjerck

ASBC talk Thursday April 17th
7.30
UVIC, Cornett B129
All welcome.

In common with the Northwest Coast, coastal Norway was heavily glaciated into a rugged landscape of fjords and islands.  As the glaciers retreated, people moved in. This talk gives us a chance to do a compare and contrast between our setting and the very distant, yet parallel, setting of post-glacial Scandinavia.

Hein B. Bjerck, is Professor in Archaeology at Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), The University Museum, Trondheim, Norway.  He is Project leader, “Marine Ventures – Comparative perspectives on the dynamics of early human approaches to the seascapes of Tierra del Fuego and Norway”.  You can also view a project gallery and writeup at the Antiquity journal website.

Dr. Bjerck is in British Columbia at the invitation of the archaeological projects of UVic’s own Daryl Fedje and Duncan McLaren, who are generously funded by the Tula Foundation. The thrust of these projects, at Quadra Island and the Central Coast respectively, is to look at the Pleistocene-Holocene transition and the first occupation of the Northwest Coast.

Incidentally, if you are a graduate student, there is an excellent short field course in archaeology and ecology starting soon at Hakai.  It’s non-credit but you might be able to wrap it into a directed studies with your supervisor. Strongly recommended.

Memorial Tributes for Dr. Richard “Doc” Daugherty

Richard Daugherty with the famous "whaling trophy" from the Ozette Site.  Source: Washington State University.

Richard Daugherty with the famous “whaling trophy” from the Ozette Site. Source: Washington State University.

Dale Croes sends along the following information: two tribute events for the late Dr. Richard Daugherty, who passed away February 22 at the age of 91. Daugherty was Professor of Archaeology at Washington State University, and is best known for two remarkable projects: the Marmes Rockshelter dig and the long-term Ozette wet site project, the latter being commonly referred to as the “Pompeii of North America” on the grounds of its incredible preservation of organic Makah material culture.

I only met Dr. Daugherty once a long time ago when I was privileged to speak about the Kilgii Gwaay wet site in Seattle, but there is an entire generation of NW Archaeologists who were his students, or were otherwise inspired or mentored by him. If you’re one of them (and count me amongst the inspired), then feel free to leave a comment below, and this can serve as an online repository of good memories and funny stories perhaps. It’s the NW Anthropology meetings starting tonight in Bellingham and I am sure there will be plenty of beer glasses clinked in his memory.  If you click “continue reading” then I’ve gathered together some of the obituaries and also the poster which Dale sent with details of the two tributes, the first of which is this coming Monday in Olympia.

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