Category Archives: background

The Midden, Reborn

Cover, Volume 1, Number 1 (Nov. 1968) of the ASBC newsletter, soon to become The Midden.

Cover, Volume 1, Number 1 (Nov. 1968) of the ASBC newsletter, soon to become The Midden.

As many readers will know, The Midden is the newsletter and journal of the Archaeological Society of B.C. The ASBC has fallen on some hard times in recent years with the Nanaimo Branch and the Vancouver Executive Branch both falling by the wayside. Luckily, the Victoria Branch, in recent years largely run by Graduate Students out of the Archaeology Lab at the University of Victoria, has retained its vitality and, after a hiatus and some thin issues, has recently started producing The Midden in its full glory again.

Even better news, the entire back run of The Midden since its first issue in 1968 is now available open access and online, with the exception that the most recent six months will be available to members only. It is to the enormous credit of the Victoria Group, who I have occasionally observed in their toils from faraway perch in Blog World Headquarters, that the ASBC and The Midden continue to express the vision of its founders over fifty years ago. The core group of the Victoria ASBC in recent years has including longtime members Pete Dady, Tom Bown and the late Gerry Merner, and more recently (and spearheading the digitization project) Jacob Earnshaw, Nicole Westre, Cal Abbott, Seonaid Duffield, and Colton Vogelaar (recent UVIC grads), and Genevieve Hill of the RBCM. Thanks also to the UVIC Library for hosting the journal. (If I’ve forgotten someone then apologies, and I will add them, just let me know). The ASBC has always been run by volunteers and has played a huge role in public education and promotion of archaeology in the Northwest, so the long-standing members and volunteers should also be thanked – of particular note perhaps, long-standing editor in the 1980s and 1990s, Kathryn Bernick.

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Thoughts on a WSU Archaeological Perspective

Pioneering WSU archaeologist Richard Daugherty instructs students on the beach at Ozette, late 1960s. Source: WSU.

Washington State University (WSU) has one of the oldest and most notable programs in Northwestern North American archaeology, with pioneers such as Richard Daugherty and William Ackerman leading the way.  The WSU magazine has a nice interview with a number of their distinguished alumni and faculty, including William Andrefsky, Dale Croes, Colin Grier, and Gary Wessen.  There are some interesting quotes in it, notably, to my mind – and perhaps yours, if you are a university nerd like me: Continue reading

e-fauna and e-flora of British Columbia

Raven, Corvus corax. Photo: Doug Skilton, via e-fauna BC

Not a strictly archaeological topic, but I was interested to find these online projects: the Electronic Atlas of the Fauna of British  Columbia, and a sister site for the flora.   These are subsites of a larger project called The Biodiversity of British Columbia.  Together, these sites aims to document, with photos, all the marine and terrestrial plants and animals of BC.  They have made a lot of progress – almost any critter or shrub you’ve heard about has  a photo at least, while many have descriptive pages of information and range.  Some sample pages for culturally-significant species: blue camasbalsam root, harbour sealsturgeon, Roosevelt elk, and Pacific banana-slug.  Species with photos only include raven and the hairy spiny doris.

Looking at the “animal photos wanted” page is a reality check though: while the current databse includes almost 9,000 photos, some 11,002 species still need photos to be submitted.  This speaks to the size of the task as well as the stunning breadth of biodiversity in BC.   If you have pictures of unusual animals then consider joining and making a submission – this would be a fantastic distributed project where the hive-mind of amateur naturalists across BC could make a solid contribution to these encyclopedic ventures.  They have some very handy checklists if you are inclined towards completionism.

One complaint: the site navigation is extensive, with multiple kinds of search possible, but the frame structure makes linking to specific pages very awkward or impossible.  Cleaning this up would be a big job but would increase the utility of the site greatly.

Chum salmon in a Burnaby estuary. Photo by Les Deighton via e-fauna.

Getting Started!

I am preparing the website on Haida Archaeology, for which my Anthropology 449 students have been making the content.   I started doing it all on WordPress, but I found I was struggling with the use of so many pages on a system that was primarily designed for blog posts, with items scrolling away off the page.  So I switched to using iWeb, which has something of a learning curve but I think it will work better in the end.   Nonetheless it is taking a lot of time and I would definitely do some things differently next time.  But then, next time I will know what I know now!