Monthly Archives: May 2010

Away, away

In training to dispose of unwanted spam.

I am doing fieldwork away from the internet for a few weeks in southern Haida Gwaii, so there will be no updates until late in June.  If you would like to be notified when the blog resumes, then add your email to the subscription list by clicking the button to the right reading “subscribe by email.”  You won’t get spam and your email is hidden from all other users other than me.  Well, me and my friend and blog-sitter, Sara Perry.

Sara also uses the wordpress software, and she has kindly agreed to keep an eye on this site, trimming out spam and making sure it doesn’t get over-run by weevils.  Sara is a Ph.D. candidate at my alma mater, and her blog, The Archaeological Eye, complements a very cool project that she is closely involved with: Visualization in Archaeology.  Thanks Sara!

Tongass Timeline

Detail of diorama of Paleomarine Period, Southeast Alaska. Source: Tongass NF

The Tongass National Forest in Southeast Alaska has a lot of interesting stuff online.  I’ve just found they have a cool set of dioramas illustrating different time periods from the last 10,000 years of human history (scroll to the bottom of this page).  These start with the palaeomarine period, about 10,000 years, a section of which is seen above.  Some of it is conjectural of course and I am not going to go to the wall defending its veracity, but I do appreciate the National Forest making an effort to present the past in an accessible way.

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The Cup is So Mine

Take that, Sami Salo.

Well I am going into the field on Sunday so this blog will be taking a break soon.  Before that happens I might as well strut and prance around a bit and let my eleventeen readers know that (apparently) this blog was awarded the  Canadian Archaeological Association‘s annual award for Public Communication (Professional/Institutional Division):

Since 1985, the Canadian Archaeological Association (CAA) has presented annual awards to acknowledge outstanding contributions in communication that further insight and appreciation of Canadian Archaeology. These awards recognise contributions by journalists, film producers, professional archaeologists and institutions and are adjudicated by a committee composed of a regional representation of CAA members.

I say “apparently” because I haven’t heard from them yet (unless they naively left a voice-mail:  I check that once a year, whether anyone has left a message or not) but several people have told me it was announced at the recent annual conference in Calgary.  So I’ll risk a Dewey beats Truman moment – it might be the only one I get!

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Images from the Likeness House

Cover of Dan Savard's new book. The RBCM caption reads: "This man has been variously identified as a chief from four different areas of BC’s interior, including possibly Tyee Jim from the central interior (tyee means “chief” in Chinook, a trade language). John Wallace Jones or Thomas McNabb Jones photograph, about 1897." Source of this photo: Amazon.ca

There is an exciting new book in the pipeline on early photography and First Nations of the historic period.  The author, Dan Savard, is senior collections manager of the Royal BC Museum’s anthropology audio and visual collection.  The promotional blurb reads:

On a winter’s day in 1889, Tsimshian Chief Arthur Wellington Clah visited Hannah and Richard Maynard’s photography studio in Victoria to have his portrait taken. “Rebekah ask if I going likeness house,” Chief Clah wrote in his diary, “So I go, to give myself likeness. Rebekah stand longside me.” In Images from the Likeness House, Dan Savard explores the relationship between First Peoples in British Columbia, Alaska and Washington and the photographers who made images of them from the late 1850s to the 1920s.

I won’t be here (have some bottom sampling to attend to in Haida Gwaii), but Dan is giving a free public lecture and will sign copies of his book next week at the RBCM.

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Seattle waterfront archaeology

"Native American encampment on landfill, circa 1900, south of South Royal Brougham Way and east of First Avenue South." Source: crosscut.com

At the ASBC talk last night it was clear that major industrial development can still leave substantial and highly significant archaeological materials interspersed even within the boundaries of heavy impact – in this case within a few dozen metres of a major hydroelectric dam.  This reminded me of a recent story I read about downtown Seattle archaeology.  Due mainly to concerns about what would happen in even a moderate earthquake comparable to the Nisqually event of 2001, Seattle is planning to replace the Alaska Way viaduct – that multi-level highway which blocks the city from its own waterfront.  You can watch a video of a simulation of the collapse of the viaduct here – I am sure most Seattlers would like to be done with that uncivic monstrosity, but not, perhaps, so suddenly.  Ironically, the ASBC talk on Ruskin Dam was also a seismic upgrade project.

Anyway, the current plan in Seattle is to put a cut-and-cover tunnel in its place – similar to some of the tunnels recently built in Vancouver’s new Canada Line LRT.  Crosscut.com’s Archaeology-savvy reporter “Mossback” (Knute Berger) has two excellent articles on the problems likely to arise when you dig such a large ditch through dense pre-contact and historic archaeology.  The first article ran on May 11th, with the followup article on May 12th.  If you are truly dedicated, there is a 200 page overview (6 meg PDF) of cultural resource management for the project, though it largely focuses on historic buildings and it relatively vague.

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Mount St. Helens and experimental archaeology

Paul Kane: Mt. St. Helens erupting by night, 1847. Source: Wikipedia

Today is the 30th anniversary of the cataclysmic eruption of Mount St. Helens, an explosion so large that it could be heard as far north as southern Vancouver Island.  The mountain has erupted many times in the past – one of which was captured by the well known painter Paul Kane (above) – and will continue to erupt indefinitely.  Many of these eruptions and its fickle nature loom large in oral histories.  The ash from prior eruptions forms important geological marker horizons all over the Northwest.  Judging by this map, there are no known obsidian sources directly associated with Mount St Helens.  These are the more obvious kinds of connections to archaeology and they shouldn’t be discounted. Another approach exemplifies a kind of morbidly creative lateral thinking.

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Convictions in Yakima Looting Case, with comments on B.C.

Looting at Wakemap Mound, 1957.

A news snippet from Washington State: from the Yakima Herald-Republic, via the excellent Washington Department of Archaeology and Heritage Preservation Blog.

“Yakima, Wash. — Two Goldendale residents found guilty of looting American Indian artifacts from a Yakama Nation cultural site have been sentenced to pay $6,690 in damages and placed on two years probation. The pair have also been sentenced to 150 hours each of community service.Devin Prouty, 27 and Tiffany E. Larson, 24, both pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to unlawfully removing artifacts, including rocks, rock flakes made by indigenous people and arrowheads from Spearfish Park near the Columbia River in Klickitat County…”

Looting is a serious problem in Washington and Oregon States but is it one in British Columbia as well?

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