Compilation of Work from Tse’K’wa (Charlie Lake Cave)

Cover of TseK'Wa Site Compilation, downloadable from Simon Fraser University

Cover of TseK’Wa Site Compilation showing “fluted point’ – the document is downloadable from Simon Fraser University

Charlie Lake Cave, also known as Tse’K’wa (the Rock House), is one of the best known archaeological sites in Western North America. Lying in the far NE of British Columbia, it containins a “fluted” projectile point, evidence of bison and small mammal/bird hunting, and shows basal dates of ca. 12,500 years ago. For decades it has been a key link in the understanding of the post-glacial occupation of the Americas.  It lies in the “Ice Free Corridor” which is a major focus of continuing research into the earliest periods in North America, and while the situation is very much unresolved, its safe to say that not everyone thinks the corridor was the route of first peoples into the Americas

It’s very cool and welcome, therefore, to see that many of the major scientific papers from this site (many authored or co-authored by Knut Fladmark and Jon Driver – two of B.C.’s pre-eminent archaeologists) are now downloadable for free from Simon Fraser University. The download is on this page, which contains a link to a PDF or an ePUB – but be aware that the PDF is about 100 megs.

The download itself is not the only cool thing of note here, though.

Stratigraphy visible at the end of the 1990 field season. Source: SFU download.

Stratigraphy visible at the end of the 1990 field season. Source: SFU download.

One really interesting and welcome thing is that new forewords have been added for the compilation as a whole, and for each paper, as well as a large collection of photographs and references towards the end. There is also commentary from the Treaty 8 Tribal Association, some members of which (the Doig River, Prophet River and West Moberly First Nations) have recently purchased the land on which Tse’K’wa sits. SFU Archaeology has also facilitated the repatriation of a large private collection of artifacts to the Treaty 8 association.

 

Screening at Tse'K'wa. Source: SFU download.

Screening at Tse’K’wa. Source: SFU download.

SFU (Archaeology, and the SFU Archaeology and Ethnology Museum) has also set up some teaching and virtual resources for the site, mostly focusing on the stone tool collection mentioned above. Among these are

Raven Burial II at Tse'K'wa - one of two apparently deliberate raven burials from the deeper layers. Note the microblade core "grave good". Source: Driver 1999 American Antiquity (and SFU download)

Raven Burial II at Tse’K’wa – one of two apparently deliberate raven burials from the deeper layers. Note the microblade core “grave good”. Source: Driver 1999 American Antiquity (and SFU download)

If you want to learn even more about this site, then SFU has loaded a number of videos (search link, maybe make a playlist, SFU?), including an hour long presentation by Jon Driver from earlier this year which helpfully reviews the radiocarbon dates from the 1970s through the redating program with AMS and also the recent ancient DNA work.  Click now and you can be one of the first 20 viewers of this informative lecture!

Overall, I think it is a great lesson in how a site, first excavated in the 1970s at a time when the practice and social context of archaeology was so very different than today, can be brought forward to the 21st Century and used as a bridge between archaeologists and descendant communities. The contextualization of the site by the Treaty 8 Association, the creation of some digital resources, and the compilation of photos and journal articles which were otherwise poorly accessible, is a good model for a simple and effective way to move knowledge from the University to the Communities and to the world at large.

Working the basal deposits at Tse'K'wa

Working the basal deposits at Tse’K’wa. Source: SFU download.

 

 

 

4 responses to “Compilation of Work from Tse’K’wa (Charlie Lake Cave)

  1. Great post – good to have you back Quentin! I’ve linked it to a dozen of my colleagues and students up here ’cause what they have done is something of a model for what I’m hoping to achieve with the Little John site, particularly the online components. Take care down there my friend.

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  2. Hi Norm, …

    I found an email in my gmail a week or so ago from you, erk, so bad at email. I’ll reply soon. Thanks for linking it, yeah, I think what SFU has done here is not exactly cutting edge digital archaeology or fancy web presence but it is actually do-able (and got done) without a massive budget. The perfect is the enemy of the good, and all that.

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  3. Hey Q, good to see the blog up and running again. Nice to see the Tse’K’Wa papers compiled, and with the interesting and informative preface and forwarding material. Thanks for posting that link.

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  4. Hi Marty

    Yeah, it’s a simple enough thing they did but a big improvement in access for community members and others. I wonder about doing the same for Haida Gwaii materials — some of the articles and chapters are hard to come by. Would need to work with CHN and Gwaii Haanas of course. And some information is too sensitive to get to be free.

    Q

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