Category Archives: fieldwork

ASBC Victoria talk: Tuesday May 20, Michelle Puckett on Quadra Is. Clam Gardens

Gwaii Haanas clam garden.

Clam garden in southern Haida Gwaii.  Note the rock wall forming the flat terrace feature.

Transforming the Beach, Transforming our Thinking: Ancient Clam Gardens of Northern Quadra Island, BC.

Michelle Puckett (presenter) and Amy Groesbeck, Dana Lepofsky, Anne Salomon, Kirsten Rowell, Nicole Smith and Sue Formosa

Tuesday, May 20th, 7:30pm at the University of Victoria, Cornett Building, Room B129.  All welcome, free.

SFU graduate student Michelle Puckett (formerly UVIC’s own) is giving the May ASBC Victoria talk – “clam gardens”.  These intertidal features have taken NW Coast archaeology by storm over the last 15 years or so.  Each one is a deliberate alteration of the beach in order to enhance shellfish productivity.  Hundreds of these are now known, and as archaeologists’ eyes become more tuned to this site type I expect hundreds more to be recorded.  Being, in effect, a kind of mariculture or aquaculture, these are important not only to our understanding of long term histories on the coast (they challenge the anthropological type “hunter-gatherer”) but they will also become important in land claims, I am sure. Click below to read the abstract and bio for this talk.

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Visit to the UNBC Fieldschool on Calvert Island

Deep unit at ElTa-4, Calvert Island.

Deep unit at Luxvbalis, EjTa-4, Calvert Island.

This blog’s world headquarters has temporarily moved out to the central coast, where yours truly is tagging along with Dr. Duncan McLaren and his team working on the early period archaeology and landscape history of the Hakai area.  The project is sponsored in very generous style by the Hakai Beach Institute, which also funds and facilitates a variety of research on the cultural and natural history of this beautiful and sensitive area. One of the other Hakai projects is an archaeological fieldschool directed by Dr. Farid Rahemtulla of the University of Northern BC.  I wrote about this fieldschool once before and you can get some background on this site (EjTa-4, Luxvbalis) at that link. The site is in the traditional territory of the Heiltsuk and Wuikinuxv First Nations.  Yesterday I had the chance to visit the site, get shown around by Farid, and hang out at the screens with his great students – and to be the annoying guy with a camera.

So it’s a really deep site.  Above you can see Kira Cari in this years main excavation unit.  They are expanding a unit from last year which went down 4.7 metres or so without bottoming out. As of yesterday, they are about 2.4 units down.  Basal dates so far are in the 6-7,000 year old range but this might get older since the bottom is not yet reached and there may be older cultural deposits intact in the intertidal zone as well. Continue reading

ASBC Victoria talk: Tue Feb 18, Nicole Westre on Hiikwis Fauna

UVIC Students excavating at Hiikwis Site, Barkley Sound.

UVIC Students excavating at Hiikwis Site, Barkley Sound.

They didn’t do it just for the Halibut: A faunal analysis of the Hiikwis site complex (DfSh-15 & DfSh-16), Barkley Sound.

Nicole Westre

Tuesday, February 18, 2014, 7:30 pm
Cornett Building B129
(North End of Cornett building)
University of Victoria

As always, the ASBC talks are free and open to the public.

Abstract:

The Hiikwis site complex (DfSh-15 and DfSh-16) consists of two village sites in inner Barkley Sound, occupied continuously for nearly 3000 years until the 1900s. Excavated between 2008 and 2010, the site complex has gained attention as the only Barkley Sound village site to contain a significant flaked stone assemblage in late contexts. My talk, however, focuses on sampled vertebrate faunal remains recovered from the site, which are unique among Barkley Sound sites as well. The bird and whale assemblages will be discussed, as will salmon exploitation. In general, Barkley Sound sites suggest that salmon did not become an important resource in the area until only about 800 years ago. This observation challenges the idea that complex Northwest Coast societies emerged as a result of salmon preservation for winter consumption as long as 3500 years ago. Does the Hiikwis site complex follow the typical Barkley Sound pattern, or do the bones tell a different story?

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Tagging along with Archaeologists in Quatsino Sound

Quatsino - Cave at Heater Point. Source: bcmarinetrails.org

Archaeology Crew at Quatsino: Cave at Heater Point. Source: bcmarinetrails.org

How does the general public perceive archaeologists?  There’s a lot of ways to get at this question, not least the comments section of any newspaper article!  But a positive and slightly unusual perspective is found in this article by Stephanie Meinke at the BC Marine Trails website.  In the course of establishing some new marine trails in the Quatsino Sound area of NW Vancouver Island (map), concern arose that there might be archaeological sites at some of the campsites. Kayakers generally having solid ethics about leaving no trace, but all the same there might be some unintentional impacts.  So an archaeological consulting team (Kennedy Richard and Morgan Bartlett) was hired to assess these spots with potential impact. They were guided by Stephanie and by Janis Leach of Recreation Sites and Trails BC, as well as by two field assistants from the Quatsino First Nation: Mark Wallas and Mark Hunt.

The article gives something of a participant-observation view of the archaeological consulting business in its coastal survey guise, as well as some nice pictures of gorgeous scenery.

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ASBC Victoria October Talk: Morley Eldridge on New Methods in Archaeological Excavation

Prince Rupert point cloud from Millennia blog

Prince Rupert digital point cloud showing relationship between hearths and shell-bearing layers, from Millennia blog. Source: http://millennia-research.com/stacked-box-hearths-in-3d/

A NEW METHODOLOGY FOR ARCHAEOLOGICAL EXCAVATION: MITIGATIVE EXCAVATION OF GBTO-13 AND GBTO-54,PRINCE RUPERT

Morley Eldridge, Millennia Research

The next ASBC Victoria public talk is by UVic’s own Morley Eldridge, who is also principal of well-known and well-respected archaeological consulting firm.  Morley has been doing some exciting new methods of in-field digital recording, with application in Prince Rupert Harbour. It also seems there will be a show and tell of artifacts at this meeting. Further, I’ve been meaning to post on this and I will!  Promise!  But Morley et al are cutting in on my turf with a sweet new blog found here.

Anyway, I’ve seen some of this from Roger and Morley at the SAA in Hawaii and it was kick-ass.

The meeting is Tuesday October 15, 2013, 7:30 pm at the Pacific Forestry Centre, 506 West Burnside Road.  Map.  Free and open to the public.

Click continue to read the abstract.

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Yukon College Fieldschool Websites

Remains of the Mud Monster

Remains of the Mud Monster. Source: facebook.

I think it’s just wound down, but the recurring Yukon College fieldschool “methods in subarctic ethnography and archaeology” spawned some good websites and blog entries.  This fieldschool, convened by Norm Easton, has been happening for quite a few years now.  It has inspired a lot of students, including some from these parts, as well as made major contributions to anthropological knowledge in the broad sense of the term.

This year there was an active facebook page on which, among many other things, are posted thousands of photographs.  I checked and I don’t think you need to be on facebook to read these pages.  Four students also started blogs to track their experiences.  Of these, Yankee in the Yukon never really got off the ground with only two fairly short pieces.  Yukon Adventures also only had two posts, but these are well written, longer reflections of the leadup to the project. Archaeology Adventures had more posts, but is primarily a photo blog – evocative photos but with relatively little context – the surface finds of the blogging world!  It’s great to see students putting their thoughts and pictures out there beyond their own facebook udpdates – each of which is a bit of a walled garden relative to the rest of the internet.

The most sustained blog, one that is successful by any standard, is Yukonic.

Excavations at Little John Site.  source: facebook.

Excavations at Little John Site. source: facebook.

Here you will find dozens of well-written and reflective entries from “Kalista”, a student from rural Alberta,  who tracks the highs and lows, the trivia and depth, the raw and the cooked of the fieldschool experience.  Consider how she comes to say goodbye:

Because while the Archaeology was cool: hearths, obsidian flakes, a rodent tooth, bone fragments, and a preliminary or perhaps heavily eroded side-notched point in addition to other student’s impressive finds of blades, a complete bison heel bone, a perhaps 13000+ year old game-changer biface, and the admittedly really cool, very old squirrel bones, behind all of those things except perhaps some of the bones, is people. The cultural material only exists because of people. Accordingly, it is the people that made my experience in Beaver Creek. People like Leslie, Chelsea, Tamika, Eddy, Blake, Bessie, Wilfred, Louis and Robert, Eldred, Jessica, Pat, Pat’s wife (whose name unfortunately always evades me), Jolinda, Ryan, Glen, other Glen, Marilyn, DJ, Mike, Tristain, Leon, Tayla, Tom, Forrest, Ian, Martha, Julius, Susie, Selena, Roland, Star, Derrick, Ken, Doug, many more people and names I am forgetting, and of course Ruth and David. A list of names that may be forgotten corresponding to a community of people I intend never to forget.

Luckily, Tamika had the great idea to have hers and Eddy’s birthday celebration before we left so there was a nice gathering that unfortunately ended with goodbyes. The birthday party felt like home: copious amounts of food, the older people eating first, and three types of dessert (because one just isn’t enough).

It felt like home because of the parallel’s to my own family’s celebrations but also due to the welcome we were afforded in our time at the Little John Site: our welcome sign the first day, countless visits, teaching us Upper Tanana and how to make birch bark baskets, shotgun and rifle shooting, ball games, numerous other activities; their way of life. As David said, we are now ambassadors of their culture and if possible, I hope to be able to show some of the character the White River First Nation showed us.

No, I am not good at goodbyes. What do you say? How do you thank enough, wish well enough people who did so much yet you may never see again? Consequently of these thoughts, I am a most awkward person at goodbyes and perhaps do not look like I feel much, but as I put this goodbye on paper, I could cry.

It’s strongly to the credit of the fieldschool leaders (Norm especially, no doubt, but I am sure he has cultivated a cast of characters….) that the experience is more about people than about things.  Archaeology is always, or should always, be about people, not things, and if you can’t see the people in the present then what hope for finding them in the past?

The inimitable Glen  showing off his chops.

Speaking of “people”: the inimitable Glen showing off his chops.

ASBC Victoria Tue Feb 19th: Coastal Archaeology in Huu-ay-aht territory, Vancouver Island

Archaeological work in Huu-ay-aht territory, 2012

Archaeological work in Huu-ay-aht territory, 2012

Quick note to say that the upcoming February meeting of the Victoria Chapter of the Archaeological Society of B.C.  should be a good one (sadly I am back east at the time):

Coastal Field Archaeology in Huu-ay-aht Territory: Highlights from the 2012 Bamfield Marine Science Centre Archaeological Field School

Tuesday February 19th, 2013, 7:30 pm Pacific Forestry Centre,
506 West Burnside Road. map

Free and Open to the Public

Abstract: In July and August of 2012, the Huu-ay-aht First Nation and the Bamfield Marine Science Centre co-hosted a ‘Coastal Field Archaeology’ course on Huu-ay-aht Government Lands in Barkley Sound on western Vancouver Island. Continue reading