Category Archives: Shell Middens

Clam Garden Event in Sidney, Monday Nov 3rd at 6.30

Clam garden event in Sidney. Source: Parks Canada, click for full poster.

Clam garden event in Sidney. Source: Parks Canada, click for full poster.

This looks like it will be a really cool and interesting event out in Sidney and if you, like blog world headquarters, are on the south island you might want to check it out in person. Snacks included! The great news though is you can register for an online webinar if you can’t make it in person. Kudos to Parks (and their new Clam Garden facilitator and friend of this blog, Sarah R.) for setting that up.  The full details are in this poster, but the short version is: the time is 6.30 and the location is the Shaw Centre on the Sidney waterfront. If you want a quick primer/links on clam gardens, then keep reading.

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Visit to the UVic Fieldschool on Prevost Island in the Salish Sea

UVic field school students at work on Prevost Island inland midden site.

UVic field school students at work on Prevost Island inland midden site. Trust me, there really are dense midden deposits at this site.

I had a good visit the other day to the UVic archaeological field school, which is on Prevost Island in the Salish Sea.  Prevost is a large island of about 1700 acres, mostly privately owned by an active farming family, but part of lies within Gulf Islands National Park Reserve.  In some ways, it is the hub of the southern Gulf Islands, lying squarely between Salt Spring, Galiano, Pender and Mayne Islands. There’s no ferry to this island, so it’s surprisingly off the beaten track considering how centrally located it is.  I suspect that’s a car-centric view, and taking the perspective of a maritime cultural landscape, this is one of the best-connected islands in the Salish Sea.

Anyway, the UVic fieldschool is being taught by doctoral student Eric McLay, whose research focuses on inland shell middens in the Salish Sea.  These are middens well away from the high tide line — in the case of Prevost, about 800 metres inland.  Several dozen comparable sites are known, such as the ones near the rockshelter burials on Gabriola Island.  Why people brought substantial quantities of shell to these inland locations is something of a mystery, one which Eric, with the help of the fieldschool students and First Nations participants, and the support of the Wenner-Gren Foundation, aims to shed light on.

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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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Controversy at Cherry Point site WA, 45WH1

Foreshore near 45WH1.  Source: Re-Sources.

Foreshore near 45WH1. Source: Re-Sources.

I haven’t been following the story at all, but there seems to be quite the controversy going on at Cherry Point, not far north of Bellingham on the coast of Washington State (map).  This large site, in Lummi Nation territory and known to them as Xwe’ chi’ eXen, has seen a lot of archaeological work over the years: about 300 cubic metres was  excavated in a series of WWU fieldschools in the 1970s and 80s under the direction of Garland Grabert. Dating back to at least 3500 years old, has some unusual features, such as being on a wave cut bank over a cobble beach with unusual offshore topography, suggesting proximity to a reef-netting site.

As its site number indicates, it’s the first site recorded by archaeologists in Whatcom County – which usually means it’s a very prominent site.  Indeed, it’s both culturally and scientifically important, and, unfortunately, has seen a lot of impact and is currently threatened. The source of the problem is a major coal port which is being planned. Interestingly enough, when the developer jumped the gun and started core-sampling the site before authorization, they were  taken to court and recently fined 1.6 million dollars.  Which is a lot of dollars. Continue reading

Final Qwu?gwes wet site report is available for download

Toy war club from Qwu?gwes site.  Source: Qwu?gwes Report.

Toy war club from Qwu?gwes site. Source: Qwu?gwes Report. Click to enlarge.

Dale Croes kindly sent me a link to the final report for the Qwu?gwes wet site (45TN240), which is  is located on Mud Bay at the southern end of Eld Inlet, Puget Sound, near Olympia, Washington (map). The site was apparently first occupied about 800 years ago.  This report, hosted at NewsWARP, checks in at almost 1,000 pages and about 80 megs, and is the product of more than 10 years of field-school and collaborative research with the Squaxin Tribe.  There look to be about two dozen authors. If you’re not up for the whole thing right away,  there’s a much shorter executive summary you can download here. But it’s a really impressive report covering everything from stone to bone to wood, bark, root, wood I.D., ethnobotany, paleo-seismology, fishtraps, and more.  It’s very clearly written at an accessible, non-technical  level, largely by students. I’ll pick out a few of many highlights below. Continue reading

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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