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.
Posted in anthropology, Archaeology, First Nations, Northwest Coast, Shell Middens, Technology, Vancouver Island
Tagged clam gardens, clams, Parks Canada, Salish Sea, shellfish, Sidney BC
Millennia Research is one of the longest established and most respected consulting archaeologist firms in British Columbia, not least because they have an occasional blog. They’re doing some really cool and advanced work on 3-D imaging using LiDAR and photogrammetry – you can see for yourself some of those posts, e.g. and e.g.’er. But today’s topic, while cutting edge in its own way, is more at the speed of your humble scribe – some very small engraving tools they’ve uncovered in Prince Rupert Harbour, site GbTo-54. The reason I’m posting it here is because they’re looking for input on the function of these and for any comparable artifacts people might know of, and I want to cast the net wider through this blog’s readership. I’ll get the ball rolling.
Posted in Archaeology, Northwest Coast, Technology, Uncategorized
Tagged antler, drills, engravers, horn, Millennia Research, Prince Rupert, Technology, Tsimshian
Tlingit house with stone wall foundation. “Photograph of a Taku village homes, photo likely by Partridge, circa 1887. Village site was located on the mainland across from Douglas Island, south of present-day Juneau”: SHI Archives, Richard Wood collection. http://goo.gl/hH9Pfl
We’re a little obsessed with wooden architecture in the NW Coast archaeology world – with good reason, I guess, since monumental wooden houses are such a prominent feature of the recent past. I suppose we sometimes stereotype these houses a little – a point some commenters made in the Houses on Stilts post here a while back – we think: “large rectangular house squatting in midden supported by giant house posts.” Not always the case, certainly not through time.
In general, we may underestimate large scale constructions in stone. Burial cairns and mounds (one of Darcy’s consists of 18 dump-trucks worth of soil), rock wall defensive sites, trench embankments, canoe runs, fish traps, and of course, clam gardens, all involved massive deployments of stone, with associated labour investments and creation of a durable built environment. Anyway, we’ve recently been running into enigmatic rock structures on the central coast and Quadra Island, and in particular, the possibility of dwelling structures partially based on stone walls. So it’s quite cool to run across the picture above from the SHI photo collections, showing a Taku Tlingit house from the historic period, sitting on a platform which has a stone wall as a foundation.
Posted in alaska, history, Northwest Coast, Technology, Uncategorized, Vancouver Island
Tagged architecture, features, Heiltsuk, household archaeology, houses, photography, stone walls, tlingit
A while back I found the cool picture above in an online exhibit of the Whatcom Museum showing photographs of Point Roberts and Lummi Island, on Puget Sound just south of the Canadian border. Reef netting is a peculiarly Straits Salish technology which involved the setting of complex nets, suspended between two canoes, at strategic locations where the natural flow of salmon was constrained. A sort of on-ramp led the fish up to the net by creating a gentle optical illusion of a rising bottom. When the salmon were milling around in the horizontal net, still free, the canoes would be suddenly swung together, closing the net and trapping the salmon.
Posted in anthropology, Archaeology, First Nations, history, Northwest Coast, Technology, underwater archaeology, Vancouver Island, Washington State
Tagged fishing, Lummi, organic technology, reef netting, Salish, Salish Sea, salmon, Straits Salish
So, still rustling around the weird world of weirs. The online Alaskan archives have quite a few interesting examples – and, kind of remarkably, a video showing the construction of a weir near Atka, which is on the Aleutian Islands. The trap in the video is pretty similar to a couple of other Aleutian ones in the collection, which I’ll talk about below. It’s really cool to not only see a more-or-less traditional trap being built (look at the rocks being casually dropped down by the wooden fence!) but the photos also show weirs actually in use. There’s probably a lot to learn from these pictures – as any introductory textbook in archaeology will tell you, the more we know about the behavioural context of a given site type, the more we can reliably infer the cultural context when presented only with the archaeological remains.
Posted in alaska, Archaeology, archives, First Nations, Northwest Interior, Northwest Coast, Technology
Tagged aboriginal fisheries, alaska, fish, fish traps, fish weirs, salmon, weirs, Yukon
So for one reason or another I’ve been thinking about fish weirs lately. A picture can be worth a thousand thoughts though, so I was happy to see these two shots of a massive weir photographed ca. 1885 on the Puyallup Indian Reservation (map) near Tacoma, southern Puget Sound, Washington. I’m sure these are common knowledge images but for some reason I hadn’t come across them before. If you’re new to weirs I posted something on them before, referencing the monumental reconstruction of one on the Koeye River. Essentially they are a method for controlling the upstream migration of salmon, allowing for stock assessment and selective harvesting.
Posted in Archaeology, First Nations, Northwest Coast, Technology, Vancouver Island, Washington State
Tagged Cowichan, fish traps, fish weirs, Nisqually, Puget Sound, Puyallup, salmon, weirs, Yelm Jim
Hilary Stewart drawing of a fish weir. Source: bcheritage.ca
Sad news out of Quadra Island with the news that Northwest Coast archaeological legend Hilary Stewart passed away on June 5th, at the age of 90. The local newspaper the Discovery Islander has a full obituary (page 2) (PDF) written by her friend, anthropologist Joy Inglis.
Posted in anthropology, Archaeology, First Nations, Northwest Coast, Teaching, Technology
Tagged Archaeological Society of BC, Archaeology, art, artifacts, ASBC, Hilary Stewart, illustration, Quadra Island
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.
Posted in Archaeology, fieldwork, Northwest Coast, Technology, Vancouver Island
Tagged aquaculture, clam gardens, clams, Intertidal, mariculture, Salish Sea, SFU, shellfish, traditional use, uvic
Please note the new location for this talk (below) – ASBC Victoria is no longer at the Pacific Forestry Centee
A Trail of Empties
Tuesday, January 21, 2014,
Cornett B129, UVic
Abstract: Global expansion from the 17th century on could likely be studied just by the trail of bottles left behind. Fortunately glass preserves well and, based on the style and method of manufacture, can offer some very precise dating tools. In an archeological context glass fragments are often the first indication of contact or trade with the outside world. They can also offer information about a site and the people who lived there. During the talk I will offer an overview of how to identify and date glass bottles along with some “hands on” examples.
Feel free to bring bottles of your own for possible identification.
My spies in the UVIC Anthropology Department tell me they are really happy to be the new host for the ASBC, and are very grateful to the Pacific Forestry Centre for their many years of hospitality. Instructions and a map to Cornett Building B129, UVIC are below.
Tlingit war helmet recently rediscovered in Springfield Science Museum. Source: SSM.
This is the kind of cool story that makes me want to poke around in all the community museums I see. A fantastic Tlingit war helmet has been recently rediscovered in the backroom of a museum in Springfield, Massachussests. The helmet was accessioned in 1899 as an “Aleutian hat” and the designation was never questioned until now. The news article about it suggests only 95 of these helmets are known, with the largest collections found in Russia. They are part of an elaborate system of armour known from the contact and early historic period in Tlingit territory (Southeast Alaska – Alaska Panhandle).
Posted in alaska, anthropology, Archaeology, history, Northwest Coast, Technology
Tagged alaska, armor, armour, helmets, museums, southeast alaska, Springfield, tlingit, Tlingit Art