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!

15 responses to “Away, away

  1. what!? after months of daily posts you take off to utopic archipelago-land! how are we supposed to find archaeologically enlightening distractions on our own!?


    • Ooh, this will add an hour to my work day! Could just keep commenting on the stuff that’s here or start new threads in the links provided… or go find a cave, forest or mountain top to relax in/on.


  2. I predict an upswing in NWC archaeologist’s productivity over the next month. Fewer distractions from this blog. Unless the withdrawals are more akin to the DT’s in which case maybe productivity will decline. Hmmmm. How to test that?


  3. It is with pleasure that I confirm that this blog, “Northwest Coast Archaeology” has been awarded the Canadina Archaeological Association’s 2010 Pulic Communications Award in the Professional/Institutional category. This is the first time a blog has been nominated and the CAA is pleased to acknowledge the important contribution this new and exciting medium can play in fostering knowledge and dialogue in Canadian archaeology. The selection committee’s comments:
    “This heavily visited site has been increasing in readership by 10%-20% per week and is presently receiving between 500 to 1000 hits per day. Northwest Coast Archaeology is now the first site listed on a Google search of that title. Designed to increase public knowledge about, and appreciation of, Northwest Coast Archaeology, Dr. Mackie’s blog is engaging, visually attractive and easy to read. Clear, simple, and straightforward, “Northwest Coast Archaeology” offers many sources of data, images, discoveries and current archaeological issues to engage readers. Quentin Mackie’s work demonstrates the importance of the use of blogs within the realm of public archaeology to reach the broader public and enhance accessibility to archaeological discoveries while creating a forum for discussion. Dr. Mackie also includes a link to archaeological theses and dissertations providing an invaluable research resource.”
    It is important to the CAA that efforts at plublic communication in Canadian archaeology be recognized and applauded. If readers of this blog are aware of websites, books, films, magazine articles, etc. that they feel are worthy of recognition, please forward information to the CAA (see:
    Once again, congratulations Quentin, and thank you for your outstanding contribution to Canadian archaeology.


  4. hooray for Canadina archaeology!


  5. As we watch the oil mess continue to wash up on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, i can’t help but think of the impact it is having on the surrounding cultural resources. How would such a disaster effect the cultural resources on our BC coast? Morley, you were involved in the arky resource clean-up during the now-second worse US spill, the Valdez in Alaska, any comments? What contingency does our prov/fed govts have in place for CRM if such a spill was to occur on our BC coast?


  6. Bluesboy – in the 1990’s the Province did a lot of planning around oil spill contingencies that included consideration of intertidal and adjacent upland archaeological sites known at that time. This work was contracted to one of the main players in the archaeology side of the Valdez spill.

    Perhaps the most useful outcome of that work is the GIS based inventory of beach types that was done by John Harper and his colleagues. They flew low level, very low tide video of all shorelines in BC and then mapped the types of beaches for all of BC. Also included were things like off shore kelp beds.

    This mapping system was used to good effect by Mackie (A.) and Sumpter in their interesting analysis of early period site distributions in Gwaii Haanas. A very important side effect was that the mapping effort resulted in Harper’s recognition of clam gardens as a site type.

    So, there are various tools in place that will assist with oil spill clean up and reducing the impacts from the clean up effort if not from the spill itself. The weakness in the system is that the shoreline inventory of archaeological sites in BC is very far from complete. Also, there are significant holes in the provincial records for known sites. For instance, more than 400 marine edge sites in Gwaii Haanas federal park are not in the provincial inventory (at the request of the Haida) and thus are not accessible to provincial staff involved in clean up efforts.

    I do not know what, if any, coordination plans are in place between federal and provincial agencies with this kind of information – I expect there must be some, at least for birds and fish. I have never heard of such for archaeological sites.


  7. Yes, well, if we have to entertain ourselves now Q has selfishly skived off to do some fieldwork….

    I suspect the effects of the Exxon Valdez were worse than the Gulf spill, since it was a big gush of oil all at once rather than a relativel trickle over many weeks. Some shorelines were truly horrible (though even in these areas the number of seemingly healthy sea otters, un-oiled birds, etc was truly amazing only a month after the spill, something never mentioned by the Press). Many of the thousands of kilometres of oiled shoreline only counted because a handful of small clumps of tar balls or mousse was present over kilometres of otherwise clean beach…. How much oil came ashore in the US from the previous much larger Gulf spill in Mexican waters in the late 1970s? I expect the fisheries may be come back even better after a few months moratorium on overfishing!

    There was a great deal of general archaeological knowledge gained from the Exxon Valdez cleanup inventories and assessments. At the beginning of the spill, there was very little known; the major work had been done by Frederica de Laguna in the 1930s and 1940s, and the 1964 earthquake had altered sea levels by -10 to +2 m at different parts of Prince William Sound and the surrounding regions. As you can imagine, this makes a tremendous difference to the archaeological record and the methods required to even find it.

    Some of the results were substantial and completely changed the way the archaeological record was viewed. One of the most interesting findings were the substantial intertidal formerly drowned sites, some of which had been uplifted into the intertidal in 1964. A wet site I found had actually been fully subtidal when Frederika had first recorded the site. And the instructions for the 1989 fieldseason emphasised that artifacts would be expected to be near the top of the current beach; there was no realization of the previous big subsidence, and systematic inventory of the mid and lower intertidal in areas of uplift didn’t start until the second year of the cleanup.

    I haven’t heard of any archaeological work associated with the current spill; but then I’ve been away from news for a month myself. I wonder if they are examining the condition of some of the drowned Clovis and other PalaeoIndian sites that occur off the Florida coast?

    Cliff faces in Prince William Sound would have two barnacle lines; the current one and often about 2 m higher, the pre-1964 one (in areas of uplift). The pre-1964 stranded beach berms contained things like Brylcreem bottles, and these had sometimes been washed far inland by the tsunamis. The astounding differences made by a catastrophic event 25 years earlier were very evident and certainly opened my eyes to similar possibilities from sea level changes in BC.

    There was a lot of activity for BC oilspill planning in the 1990s, as Al has mentioned. I know Millennia conducted a number of assessments and prepared material for different regions over and above the Oilspill Atlas materials. I certainly hope that we’d avoid some of the chaos that Alaska suffered from early on, and its known to concentrate containment at estuaries and other low-energy environments now.


  8. any/everyone on the mainland know about this?

    ASBC Annual General Meeting 2010
    Event Date & Time: Wednesday, June 23, 2010 – 7:00pm Location: Museum of Vancouver, 1100 Chestnut Street, Vancouver

    New Insights into the Old Cordilleran Tradition
    Speaker: Dr. Jim Chatters
    Event Date & Time: Wednesday, June 23, 2010 – 7:30pm
    Location: Museum of Vancouver
    1100 Chestnut Street, Vancouver
    Talk Title:
    New Insights into the Old Cordilleran Tradition

    Fifty years ago, B. Robert Butler introduced the idea of the Old Cordilleran Culture, a distinctive flake-and-biface lithic industry which he believed to represent the initial human occupation of Northwest America. We now know that Old Cordilleran was not the earliest. But it is distinct from its predecessors, so much so that it likely represents a secondary immigration down the Pacific Coast from Beringia. Despite its long history in the archaeological lexicon, the Old Cordilleran has received little research because its near-exclusive occurrence in near-surface deposits has made it difficult to date and information on subsistence impossible to obtain. Within the last decade, however, the first large-scale data recovery excavations, coupled with technological advances in dating and residue analyses, have made it possible to understand when and how Old Cordilleran folk lived their lives. This lecture will discuss findings from the excavation of three Old Cordilleran components near Granite Falls, Washington, with emphasis on the age, lithic technology, subsistence, and adaptive strategy of these early occupants of our region.


  9. I see QMackie has been voted among the top 5 archaeological bloggers by Heather Pringle of Archaeology magazine:



    • Now that is a ringing endorsement if ever there was one. And from one of the best writers of popular archaeology there is – winner of many awards herself.


  10. I have recently read a MA thesis listed on this blog and wanted to post comments, but I am unclear where (in this little box?) and what kind of data is appropriate. I also clicked on the “post by email” feature in my subscription notice but it seems quite complicated. Is that the place to post such a commentary on a specific topic? Are attachments OK, discouraged, encouraged, …?


  11. Hi Dan,

    Hey, I owe you an email from way back, but as you may have seen, there was a big interruption in the blog due to an (ongoing) family issue so A LOT of emails got dropped for almost a year now. I hope to slowly pick up the pace here but I have some new priorities now to attend to.

    Anyway, if you have some pictures and comments on that thesis, then I’d say, why not do a guest post here? That would entail writing up a brief piece maybe 500 words or 1000 words, with a few pictures, and sending it to me, whereupon I would format it and post it, making it clear you were the one writing it. I’d certainly like to hear your ideas and it would be a great topic of discussion.

    Otherwise, to post pictures, you’d have to post just a link to one on your site, or one on flickr, or something.

    Anyway, if you want, reply here or send me an email and we can talk about what you have in mind. qmackie @ gmail


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