ASBC Victoria, Feb 21, 2012: Archaeology of Nimpkish Area by Jim Stafford

View of Woss Lake. Source: panoramio user cyberhun.


Archaeology of the Nimpkish River Valley, Northeastern Vancouver Island  

Jim Stafford
Coast Interior Archaeology

     TUESDAY FEB. 21, 2012, 7:30 pm
Pacific Forestry Centre,
506 West Burnside Road. (map)

Free and Open to the Public

This presentation will focus on work conducted by Coast Interior
Archaeology on behalf of the ‘Namgis Nation in the Nimpkish Valley and nearby areas of Northern Vancouver Island from 2004 to present.  Based upon
archaeological and ethnographic evidence it is clear that traditions
associated with inland adaptations are strong in the Nimpkish Valley.
Topics and/or sites presented will include, but not be limited to: the
Nimpkish valley as travel corridor, Woss Lake to Tahsis Inlet overland trail
(present to 6400 years ago), Woss Lake Rockshelter (present to 6400 years
ago), Woss Lake camp site (3000 to 6400 years ago), Kokish Inland Hunting? Site (6400 -10,600 years ago), Port McNeill raised beach site (9500 years ago), Nimpkish Valley fire history, bark harvested and aboriginally logged forests.

Bio:  Jim Stafford is the sole proprietor of archaeological consulting firm Coast Interior Archaeology, and has participated in archaeological and anthropological research in British Columbia since 1992, with a focus on coastal BC.

10 responses to “ASBC Victoria, Feb 21, 2012: Archaeology of Nimpkish Area by Jim Stafford

  1. how was the talk?


  2. It was a fantastic ramble with lots of great pictures, if I do say so myself… Fairly ephemeral but definitively worth the price of admission!


  3. I enjoyed the talk. Jim is a good speaker, had lots of pictures, gave a look at an emerging understanding of the early period in this part of Vancouver Island (the oldest site on VI is no longer Bear Cove) with sites dated as old as 9400 RCYBP. It was a good account of how a long term relationship with the Namgis has turned out to be very productive. Namgis representatives were in the audience, and kept Jim honest and the rest of us amused, if not during the talk, then afterwards.


  4. For those of us who weren’t there, what is the oldest site now on Vancouver Island, and what does it contain? Many thanks.


  5. Since Jim is away in the field for a few weeks, mitigating the site in question (EdSr-42) I will fill you in. The site is on the inland edge of a very old (probably late-Pleistocene) delta/fan at about 135-140m amsl at about 1.5km inland from Beaver Cove and about 4km inland from the main alignment of the Vancouver Island shoreline.
    The oldest date is just shy of 9400RCYBP on charcoal collected in reasonably close proximity (~2cm) to an artifact at the same depth and seems to be a good date. Other dates from the site are in the 6800, 5600 and 2300 RCYBP range but many are associated with natural deposition.
    The site is tiny (as currently understood) and the assemblage small (n=11). The tool assemblage is described as flake tools (notched flakes, spall tools and minimally retouched scrapers), almost all of them large, primary and apparently struck from cobbles. There are also two pieces of debitage.
    Some of the sediment in the site is rich in volcanic ash, but a source for the ash has not yet been identified (its on the to-do list) though it is apparently just within the known range for Mazama. The deposits are somewhat turbated but seem to retain intact patches of deposit of the site giving considerable confidence in the dates. The 5600 date was also quite closely associated with an artifact. and these dates are from about 50-60cm dbs.
    The site is somewhat less than 40 square metres and will be totally excavated (unless it proves much larger) in advance of unavoidable impacts, work that commences tomorrow.


  6. Also, Jim mentioned another site associated with a raised beach that I believe is dated to the mid 8000’s and thus a bit older than Bear Cove too. Maybe he can fill in any missing info from the above, and about the other site as I did not take notes on what he had to say about it at his talk.


  7. very cool! and Al, thanks for this info, congrats to the thinking-hard/working-hard Jim! sounds like more info will be coming out of this…


  8. Thanks APM! Very good summary… We have enjoyed a very sunny week of further testing near the EdSr-42 site boundaries and it does appear the site is quite small as originally indicated, appears to be less than 5 by 7 m in size but we still may find outliers and will be testing quite close to the known boundaries this week… Tomorrow we begin excavation after this day of rest. Apart from the small size and fact that we found it at all, the site is remarkable as one of ? hunting (butchering or trap) sites found near the coast. There is a long tradition of hunting elk (as well as bear) in the area and a placename referring to elk hunting with the specific locale. The Namgis fellow who’s shovel test found the site has taken a few elk near the very location of the site. Also remarkable, the site is 500 m from a major water body and the area was impacted by logging three times and it was covered in small regenerating trees (“dog’s hair”) and with much dense woody debris in the vicinity – some archy’s wouldn’t even walk the area let alone test it. We recovered a number of hand sized flake tools, few with notches, likely for butchering, all but one very weathered and encrusted in silt – all seem transported to site, no cores found and we are wondering if the smaller flake debitage which is absent may have been eaten by the weathering process or it is simply not an activity at the site – no points found yet but we are hopeful, also need to find hearth so we can hammer down the dates, so lot’s to do, including laundry!

    The raised beach site we found near Port McNeill, EdSs-25, is at the same elevation as Bear Cove inland deposits (9 m amsl), a road exposure characterized by a shell free layer 20 cm thick, about 60-80 cm dbs, with charcoal and pea gravel, chipped stone, dating to 8600 RCYBP.


  9. Thanks APM & Jim, cool site.


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