CT slice through Mastodon rib exposing bone point profile. Source: Waters et al. 2011.
For a long time, the Manis Mastodon site near Sequim, Washington was the elephant in the room of the Northwest Coast early period. The apparent bone point embedded in a mastodon rib was seemingly hard to explain by any non-cultural means, yet maddeningly short of definitive proof, and so was politely ignored. The point has always been a thorn in my side too, which is why I have posted on it three times, once over a year ago, and twice recently.
Maybe I am a bit obsessed with it because if I rise gently from my sofa in Blog World Headquarters, being careful not to spill fine single malt on my pyjamas, then through my window I can see Sequim in the extreme distance, seemingly mocking me.
So all the more cathartic that today, with the publication of a convincing re-analysis of the mastodon rib by Michael Waters et al. in the respected journal Science, we can say that the site is, indeed, evidence of humans hunting Mastodon on the Northwest Coast 13,800 years ago. That’s about eight hundred years pre-Clovis. Like I said before: it’s real. It’s old. It’s on the coast. Wow.
Posted in Archaeology, Northwest Coast, palaeontology, Washington State
Tagged Archaeology, clovis, coastal route, first peopling, Manis, Manis Mastodon, paleoindian, pre-clovis
Detail of Archaeology Forum announcement. Click for PDF
I recently received the notice that the B.C. Archaeology Forum is to be held this November 11 and 12 in Squamish. The event will be hosted by the Sḵwxwú7mesh (Squamish) Nation, and is being organized largely by Rudy Reimer/Yumks. Anyone can register for this event for a highly reasonable $10.00: full information is given in this PDF file. The Forum is a great event, bringing together Consultants, First Nations, Academics and Government Archaeologists in one place to share the latest discoveries and to talk policy and matters relating to the practice of archaeology. The deadline for presenting is October 28th, but you can decide to simply attend closer to the last minute, I believe.
That said I won’t be making it this year because of an unbreakable commitment. This highlights an unfortunate part of “Forum Culture” – it is routinely announced only a month or so in advance, even when the location is known much further ahead. Many people have to arrange to take time off, or gain advance permission or funding to travel, organize a ferry load of students, or at least keep their schedule clear for this event. I think I’ve missed three of the last four for this reason. It’d be great if we could change this, and at least get the location and date out earlier – maybe by the beginning of summer. Speaking of, next year it would be cool to have it on the Island. Who’s up for it?
Parks Canada - UVIC Archaeological Project in the Intertidal Zone, 2010.
Next up for the local (Victoria) branch of the Archaeological Society of B.C. is a Tuesday, October 18th talk by Daryl Fedje of Parks Canada Archaeology. Details below; it is free and open to the public. I know of some of this research to be presented and if I can add an editorial comment:it is now clearly demonstrated that the intertidal zone has very high potential for un-disturbed archaeological deposits, some of which show exceptional preservation. These include not only classic “waterlogged sites” with woody preservation, but also numerous water-saturated shell middens, and even the remains of intact house features. I think it’s probable that in the Salish Sea at least, the intertidal zone is a hugely unappreciated zone of interest and I hope the Archaeology Branch and Consulting Archaeologists are working together to make sure it gets a thorough examination. And, if they aren’t, then it would be welcome if First Nations were to apply pressure by demanding routine subsurface testing in intertidal zones as a minimum requirement for shoreline archaeological assessments, perhaps commenting to this effect when reviewing permit applications. Anyway:
Intertidal Archaeology in the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve
October 18th, 2011, 7:30
pm Pacific Forestry Centre,
506 West Burnside Road (Map)
FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.
Abstract: Recent investigations in the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve included a focus on the intertidal zone. Analyses of cultural and paleoecological data obtained from these investigations has resulted in a more detailed sea level history for the area and, discovery of a suite of archaeological sites associated with sea levels slightly lower than modern. These now-intertidal sites include intact shell middens and apparent house features dating as early as 4,000 years ago.
Bio: The Victoria ASBC Branch president writes, “Daryl Fedje is a long-time archaeologist with Parks Canada, now based in Sidney, B.C. He is widely published, with a respected international reputation. Research in the Gulf Islands that he directs, co-directs, or facilitates is some of the most current work relevant to the Victoria region – but of course with wider ramifications.“
Posted in Archaeology, Cultural Resource Management, Northwest Coast, Shell Middens, underwater archaeology, Vancouver Island
Tagged Archaeological Society of BC, ASBC, CRM, Gulf Islands, Intertidal, Salish Sea, waterlogged sites, wet sites
Image from the Mammoth Trumpet. Source: CSFA. Click to enlarge somewhat.
While we wait patiently for the definitive word on the rumoured exciting new developments regarding the 14,000 year old, pre-Clovis Manis Mastodon site near Sequim, Washington, I thought it was worth a new post to pass on an article a regular reader of this blog brought to my attention.
The Center for the Study of the First Americans, the same organization who is now re-analysing Manis Mastodon, have for many years published a very informative newsletter they call the Mammoth Trumpet. Some of the early issues are online, including one which has a 1987 report on the Manis site(PDF). I had not seen this before (the whole archives are worth a post on their own) and the article has some interesting information, including the picture above.
Cropped screenshot of detail of cairn marking Sahsima, south Oak Bay. Source: Burnt Embers blog; click to visit.
I recently have started following a wonderful new blog called Burnt Embers. It’s mostly a photo blog of the author’s surroundings – which appear to be deepest south Oak Bay, which is a municipality adjacent to Victoria, B.C. It’s a wealthy municipality not really known for being sensitive to archaeological concerns or First Nations history: for example, it’s the locale of the rather messy Esplanade controversy I documented last year (1, 2, 3).
Anyway, the blogger at Burnt Embers, one “ehpem”, has recently done a great service by bringing to light a series of attractive cairns, emblazoned with art by Tsartlip artist Charles Elliot (Temoseng), which pay tribute to Songhees and Straits Salish places, history, and names. As ehpem points out, Oak Bay Council has erected these cairns but provides no other information about them, whether on their website or anywhere else. They’ve been sort of bolted onto the Oak Bay landscape. No matter: ehpem has photographed them beautifully and assembled a great series of pages documenting each one and also created a google map which is really handy for getting around from cairn to cairn. The cairns are, in the order which ehpem documents them:
Sahsima – a transformer stone near the Chinese Cemetery. Sahsima, meaning “harpoon”, was the original name identified by Songhees elder James Fraser for the point where the Chinese Cemetery is located: Hayls the Transformer, with spirit companions, Raven and Mink, came by in his canoe, frightening away the seal the harpooner had been stalking. The harpooner rebuked them, Hayls turned him to stone as he stood there poised to throw the harpoon, saying “You’ll be the boss for seals … from Sooke to Nanaimo.” Continue reading
Posted in anthropology, Archaeology, First Nations, history, Vancouver Island
Tagged blogs, burnt embers, Charles Elliot, Lekwungen, Oak Bay, photography, Salish, Songhees, Straits Salish, Temoseng, Victoria BC
Screenshot of Manis news from the website of the Center for the Study of First Americans. Click to go to page.
[October 20 edit: Manis article now out in Science, my post here.]
Quite a while ago I posted about some of the frustrations I felt about the Manis Mastodon site, near Sequim on the Olympic peninsula. This 1970s find of a Mastodon skeleton had one singularly enigmatic feature: there appeared to be the broken tip of a bone point embedded in one of its ribs. As I wrote before: yank that sucker out! – so we can determine for sure if this is a human made artifact dating to the same age as the Mastodon – about 14,000 years ago. Being well pre-Clovis and right near the coast, this find would be of profound importance to our archaeological understanding of the first arrival of people into the Americas. Now, as you can read above, there is an intriguing hint that Manis has finally been re-examined, and found to be a legitimate Pleistocene archaeological site. It’s real. Wow.
Posted in Archaeology, Northwest Coast, palaeontology, Washington State
Tagged bone technology, clovis, first peopling, Manis, mastodons, pre-clovis, Sequim, zooarchaeology