Due to an urgent family emergency I will not be updating this blog for an indefinite time. If you wish to be notified when posts are made in the future, please add your name and email under the “Email Subscription” list to the right. Quentin
Musqueam Potlatch Dish, made 1895. Photo by Derek Tan. Source: MoA, CC Licenced.
It was fun to attend the BC Archaeology Forum on the weekend. First and foremost, the Musqueam First Nation were gracious hosts who provided a warm and thoughtful welcome, and plentiful, delicious meals. Together with the organizing committee from the UBC’s Laboratory of Archaeology, the event was an incredible bargain for 30 bucks, including dinner. I took in most of the talks. The short review is that it was an extremely successful forum, well attended, with interesting papers spanning the province and important issues raised. The long review has become really long, so you’ll have to continue reading on page 2.
3-D Sonar Scan of A.J. Goddard historic sternwheeler from Yukon. Source: Montreal Gazette.
A year or two ago, the well-preserved wreck of the Klondike-era paddlewheeler A.J. Goddard was found in Lake Lebarge on the Yukon River. The find (which is now protected) got a lot of attention because of the ghostly images (click on the very high resolution pop-up ones here) as much as the historical significance. The wreck was recently in the news again because divers had found some vinyl phonograph records which had the potential to be played. Listening to the music of the dead crewmen of a ship evocative of the Cremation of Sam McGee would create close, perhaps emotional, connection with these poor unfortunates.
Being made of stern stuff (heh) what I am more interested in is the intriguing sonar image (above) that accompanied the mainstream press coverage. The phonograph is cool, but archaeologically the more significant development are the new technologies being used on wrecks in general and some Yukon wrecks in particular.
I found more images and a very short article at Wired magazine and they are worth a look, as is much of the background info from the Institute of Nautical Archaeology (INA), which includes a photo gallery. Edit: you can view a nice video of BluView and OceanGate’s sonar model of the wreck here.
Posted in Archaeology, history, Northwest Interior, underwater archaeology
Tagged historical archaeology, LiDAR, paddlewheelers, shipwrecks, Sonar, underwater archaeology, Yukon, Yukon River
I’m a big supporter of the B.C. Archaeology forum and posted about it a while back. The forum is an annual gathering of archaeologists, students, First Nations and others with an interest in B.C. Archaeology. It’s a rare chance for all the different stakeholders to get together, catch up, and socialize. This year the forum is co-hosted by UBC and the Musqueam First Nation, and will be held near SW Marine Drive (i.e., not on the UBC campus: map). Since I am getting tons of hits from google queries looking for information about it, and since this can also serve as a reminder to get out to the forum this Saturday, November 6th, I am pasting in the program of events below.
Remember, everyone is welcome. The registration fee is only 20$, and half that for students. You can walk up to register on Saturday morning. It would be most welcome to see lots of public and community members there.
The program (PDF) (I refuse to call it an agenda) is pasted in below with some comments.
Sooke Freight! Vancouver Daily Post, 1865.
Via the Northwest History blog, I recently found that Google has been quietly archiving a large number of historical newspapers, including many defunct ones from the west. Old newspapers are a rich source of social history and can fill in some details of everyday life in the early historical period. For example, it still costs me about 2 & 1/2 cents per pound to get my sorry self from Victoria to Leech River. Or, see the table below from 1864 recounting the travel time and cost by stage or foot from New Westminster to the Columbia River. That’s better history than some dumb vote of useless politicians.
As Larry Cebula at Northwest History points out, Google has buried this feature somewhat. There is a master list of all newspapers here, though, and you can work your way through that. Many of the newspaper names are cryptic, though, and since I usually do the grunt work for you, here are some of the historic, often defunct, newspapers of particular interest to readers of this blog:
Magnetometry map of the Bridge River Site housepits. Source: Prentiss et al. 2009
Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to see what was underground without having to go through the time-consuming, expensive and destructive process of digging it up? There are some nice geophysics techniques in archaeology for doing just that, though none are yet a substitute for excavation. I noticed the other day (and you were quizzed on it) that there is a very comprehensive recent report online (45 meg PDF) by Anna Marie Prentiss and colleagues, on work at the middle Fraser pithouse village of Bridge River (EeRl-4). This village lies in the territory of Bridge River Band (Xwisten) and the St’át’imc Nation. While there is a huge amount of archaeological interest across the 350 page report as a whole, it was the use of geophysics on an interior pithouse village which got my attention.
Posted in Archaeology, Cultural Resource Management, Northwest Interior, Technology
Tagged Fraser River, geophysics, household archaeology, housepits, magnetometry, pithouses, Salish, St'at'imc First Nations
Vancouver Island, to Scale, off the Coast of Sumatra.
Space is important to archaeologists, but it can be really easy to have a distorted sense of how big the world is, and how big different parts are compared to each other. One big reason for this globally is that common map projections tend to make more northerly and southerly places appear much larger. But on a local scale, even knowing that a place is so many square kilometres compared to some other place is not always that illuminating. It’s hard for a small human to get their head around big spaces, or abstract ones.
This all matters because what archaeologists study is the human scale of feet-on-ground, and it is easy to lose that when confronted with a top-down view, bird-in-air, which apart from anything else, is pretty much a point of view no human has ever occupied, at least until very recently. It is pretty handy then to find an easy to use online tool called MapFrappe, which allows you to outline a geographic feature, then drag it to anywhere in the world – while preserving its map projection scale.
For example, Vancouver Island is a familiar feature to many NW Coast archaeologists.