Monthly Archives: April 2009

Chilliwack Museum and Archives

Chilliwack Museum Accession number 1957.019.084

Chilliwack Museum Accession number 1957.019.084

The Chilliwack Museum (map) has a large, searchable collection of photos online, which they ruin with a huge watermark in the middle.  Seriously, guys, these are ancient artifacts that you are lucky to be curating.  And, your pictures aren’t very good in the first place – many out of focus, or with extensive shadowing.  In any case, for archaeologists, you can click for artifacts made of, or records containing the word,   “stone” (they have a huge number of celts, mauls and abrader stones, as you might imagine since the Fraser Valley is known for these, perhaps because of extensive plowing of former woodlands).  Oddly they don’t seem to have any aboriginal artifacts made of bone, shell, or antler.  Search term “Sto:lo” returns one empty field.  Further they make it almost impossible to link to a specific record or picture. I am putting in a picture I downloaded from their site of an unusual artifact – a ground stone point with a very unusual morphology and material.  They list it made out of serpentine, but from what I can tell, it shows signs of being readily worked, and so may be a softer verson of serpentine, perhaps soapstone.  The shape is like a bronze age arrowhead or something — highly unusual.   Too bad there isn’t a better picture available.  So, all in all, Chilliwack Museum people: you put a lot of time and energy into a resource that is not particularly useful nor does it readily promote the heritage of the Fraser Valley.  I suggest you rework your URL system, remove the watermarks, and update your keywords by adding Sto:lo to appropriate records.  Double-check your raw material “horn” as well.  You have a fantastic collection, share it!

Fieldwork Picture of the Day 5

Submersible at Section Cove

Submersible at Section Cove

A few years back I fulfilled a lifetime ambition by going down in a submersible.  This shows the Nuytten craft “Aquarius” on the surface in front of the warden’s cabin on SW Huxley Island in Gwaii Haanas (map).  We tried diving onto the ancient lake that now lies drowned at 33 metres below sea level,  more or less in front of the cabin.  This lake would have been last exposed to air about 10,000 14C years ago.  We started at about 110 metres down and then worked our way up a palaeo-river channel towards the lake, but unfortunately got off course and ended up a lot closer to the beach than we had anticipated.  These things are flown by a pilot, but the basic navigation is by transponders on the bow and stern of the mother ship which allow triangulation from a known point.  Apparently, not foolproof!  The lake we were diving onto shows huge potential for an archaeological site.  We are thinking there may have been a base camp for bear hunting at Gaadu Din 1 or 2, which are less than a kilometre away.   Possibly, too, there was a sockeye salmon fishing camp here, since the nearby caves contain numerous salmon bones from the late Pleistocene.  Anyway, it was pretty cool to go down in the submersible!

West Vancouver Archives

Tomb of Chief Joe Capilano ca. 1917

Visitors to the Tomb of Chief Joe Capilano ca. 1917

Stumbling on the Vancouver Public Library’s photo site the other day got me poking around smaller museums and archives for archaeology and First Nations related stuff.  It turns out there’s a lot out there.  First up is this picture I found at the West Vancouver Museum and Archives.  They have a searchable collection, within which a fair number of digitized historic photos.  A fair amount of stuff is under “First Nations” and “Indian”.  To the left is a remarkable picture of Chief Joe Capilano’s tomb (map).  It’s quite a slab, house-shaped (though not a shed roof house!), but surely it is as close to a mortuary house as it is to traditional Christian mausoleum.     Joe Capilano was a leader of the Sḵwxwú7mesh (Squamish) nation, to whom he was known as Sa7plek.

Sa7plek: Chief Joe Capilano

Sa7plek: Chief Joe Capilano

Apparently, he recieved the title of ‘Chief”  (via recieving the name Kiyapalanexw (Capilano), in order to facilitate his trip to Ottawa and to London, to meet King Edward VII.   The name bestowal was in the belief that he would need a title in order to speak “Chief-to-Chief” with the Prime Minister and the King, or so says wikipedia.  These smaller archives have fairly idisoyncratic interfaces and often the context given is poor.  Nonetheless, I will occasionally, or even frequently, post pictures or other material from them.

Scary article on overfishing

Every time I focus on this topic it has gotten incrementally worse.

Fieldwork Picture of the Day 4

Gaadu Din 2007

Gaadu Din 2007

In 2007 we returned to Gaadu Din 1, a cave on the east side of Huxley Island (map) in Haida Gwaii.  In the front is Jenny (Jinky, Sniffer, Killer), while behind left to right you see her fellow UVIC graduate students Brendan (Binky, Loafer, Skipper, Dumper) and Adrian (Goat-Boy), while to the right is Jordan (Haida Watchman – which is not a nickname!).  The cave entrance can be glimpsed between Brendan and Adrian. Gaadu Din has revealed an incredible record of terminal Pleistocene fauna and artifacts, showing Ancestral Haida winter-time bear hunting as early as 10,600 14C years ago (13,000 calendar years ago).  Among the fauna are black bear, which still live on Haida Gwaii, but also brown (grizzly) bear and coast deer, neither of which were known to be native to these islands (deer are common on Haida Gwaii, but these are historically introduced). The deer in Gaadu Din all date to a narrow time window just prior to the onset of the Younger Dryas cold period, and presumably could not survive those harsh, snowy conditions, and had no way of repopulating the now-remote archipelago after modern climatic conditions arose.

NW Conservation Blog

This is a nice site by an Alaskan conservator, Ellen Carrlee. She gives a ton of information about her work. For example, check out her lengthy discussion of the conservation of an archaeological Tlingit fishtrap – scroll down for pictures. Or, look at this mini-essay on waterlogged wood.

Vancouver Public Library Archives

beach-grove-dig

"Archaeologists at Beach Grove, 1962"

The Vancouver Public Library has a nice collection of historical photos online, though the resolution is not great.  Interestingly, there are a number of historical archaeology pictures I had never seen before.   I’m sure someone knows these faces, presumably they include Duff and Borden?  Another picture from Beach Grove (map) shows someone sitting at an ASAB desk (Archaeological Sites Advisory Board).  When surveying at the Milliken Site in about 1986 I remember finding an old desk that was presumably Borden’s – reputedly he had a desk at his digs.  Also, there was a bookshelf out there, in the middle of the woods above the tracks.  The VPL site also has a few pictures of the Eburne (Marpole) midden, including this disturbing closeup one of the human remains visible in the link above.

You can go here and enter the search term “archaeol*”

Fieldwork Picture of the Day 3

Profiling the south wall of the Richardson Island site 2002

Profiling the south wall of the Richardson Island site 2002

The Richardson Island site (map) is a deeply stratified raised beach site.  In this picture, Duncan’s feet are at about 9300 14C years ago, while the top of the gulch is about 8400 14C years ago.  The horizontal 2 X 4 more or less demarcates the lower “Kinggi Complex” from the “Early Moresby Tradition” – the latter being marked by the introduction of bifacial technology to the stone toolkit, but also characterized by continuity between the two in many other regards.  There are some 20 major depositional units in that span, and more than 100 separable layers.  We think the site formation process is of a supra-tidal marine berm which was “pushed uphill” during a period of rising sea level — people lived on top of this berm but would periodically come to the site and find a fresh dump of finely-sorted pea gravels.   Although high-energy, the berm formation was also surprisingly gentle, allowing for numerous features such as hearths and post-moulds to preserve, not to mention pristine flakes which, in some cases could be refit one to another.  The thick reddish band just above Duncan’s head is a major berm deposit which was dumped as a single event, or several shortly-spaced events, around 9200 14C years ago.   Digging this site was a challenge – some of the layers were concreted together like iron and required some chiseling, and colour differences between some layers were often very slight.  Indeed, it became a full body experience as the texture and looseness of the gravels was very important, and on occasion, it was noted that some layers smelled differently than others.

Fieldwork Picture of the Day 2

Daryl watching the tide flow at Kilgii Gwaay.

Daryl watching the tide flow at Kilgii Gwaay.

Another fieldwork picture form the archives. This shows Daryl watching the tide come into our units at Kilgii Gwaay (map) – this is Operation 8a and 8b, if I recall, from 2001.  At first we tried to completely dig out a unit during a single tide window but this was quite rushed, and limiting.  So we tried lining the units with bubblewrap and then just before the tide reached them we would pump them full of water (hose into a bucket in the bottom of the unit) to provide outwards pressure on the sidewalls and to prevent erosion of the unit edge.  This actually worked really well: for the most part the units survived the tidal change and could be pumped out with no trouble.

Grover Krantz

Dr Krantz, a professor of Anthropology at WASU, was best known in NW Anthropology circles for his Sasquatch research.  The reputation he gained from this unorthodox pursuit followed him to his involvement with the Kennewick Man case.  Now I find out, via John Hawks, that Grover Krantz was “buried” in a drawer at the Smithsonian Institution, along with his dogs.  The Washington Post has an article and jawdropping slideshow of Krantz’s  skeleton mounted and on display at the Smithsonian, along with his dog, Clyde.  (This older article has some nice background and a picture of Grover and Clyde at rest in their usual home).  Is it any wonder  Umatilla eyebrows were raised about his Kennewick involvement and resistance to repatriation of human remains?