Richardson Island is a remarkable archaeological site in southern Haida Gwaii. When it was occupied, sea levels were about 10 metres higher than today, and rising. Then, sea levels stopped rising and occupation continued. We have dates ranging from 10,500 cal BP to 2900 cal BP (calendar years before present). However, the early part of the record includes the most impressive stratigraphy. The shoreline configuration at that time likely included a supra-tidal marine berm feature, which would have had a flattish top and have been well-drained and probably vegetation free: a perfect place to camp. Occasional storms or even tsunamis would build this berm in the winter, and with rising sea levels the berm was “pushed uphill” so to speak. The berm-building process would have involved sudden dumps of sorted pea-gravel onto the occupation layers at the site, sealing and preserving them. Overall, though, the site is in a well-protected location, at least relative to the enormously dynamic winter sea conditions of Haida Gwaii. Continue reading
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