Tag Archives: Archaeology

The Nunalleq Site Fieldwork Blog

Collection of amber beads from the Nunalleq Site. Source: Nunalleq Blog. https://nunalleq.wordpress.com/2015/07/15/artefact-of-the-day-147/

Collection of amber beads from the Nunalleq Site. Source: Nunalleq Blog. https://nunalleq.wordpress.com/2015/07/15/artefact-of-the-day-147/

One of the benefits of running this blog is I get to decide what counts as Northwest Coast Archaeology, and today I’m including the amazing Nunalleq site in SW Alaska. Strengthening my claim this belongs to the NW Coast is that the indispensable Dr. Madonna Moss of U. Oregon has been working there lately – which makes it NW Coast, right? Q.E.D.  Anyway the project has been running for about five years, and their blog for three, so there is lots to read up on, and see.  The site, lying in Yup’ik territory, contains deposits (house and otherwise) up to around 2,000 years old and has been rapidly eroding of late.  What started as a salvage project quickly turned into a major effort as deposits of incredible richness were encountered, with preservation enhanced by frozen soil/permafrost.  I’m currently in a fairly remote spot with slow internet and bandwidth constraints, so I am just going to link to a few highlights of the blog and let you explore the rest.

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The shíshálh Archaeological Research Project blog is back.

shíshálh Archaeological Research Project Blog

shíshálh Archaeological Research Project Blog. Nice trowel handle! Click to visit blog.

Just a quick note to let you know the shíshálh Archaeological Research Project blog is back up and running.  I mentioned this blog before; I gather it (and perhaps the project) didn’t run last year, so it’s good to see it back.  This year it will be written by the participating students on the project. Taking place in shíshálh territory on B.C.’s “‘sunshine coast'”, the dig is now directed by (lifelong fan of both the Senators and Leafs) Dr. Terence Clark of the Canadian Museum of History (formerly the Canadian Museum of Civilization – that’s another story).  Anyway, for now, if you want to keep up to date with the shíshálh blog then I recommend clicking the “follow this blog by email” button on the right of their front page.  No spam, and you’ll be notified of the posts as they happen.

If you know of any other recent project blogs from the NW then let me know and I will link to them also.

    Gary Coupland (left) training students on transit use and archaeological survey/mapping. Photo: shíshálh blog.

Dr. Gary Coupland, U. Toronto (left) training students on transit use and archaeological survey/mapping. Photo: shíshálh blog.

Life from Ash and Ice: A documentary film about Mt. Edziza

Screenshot of Knowledge Network video about Mt. Edziza.

Screenshot of Knowledge Network video about Mt. Edziza. Click to go to site.

For various reasons I’ve been off work for a while and that has meant being off blogging as well. If you’ve commented on posts recently then thanks; if you’ve emailed my gmail account and still would like a reply then maybe try again.

Anyway, what better way to resume making the occasional post here than a film about the place where I did some of my first ever fieldwork: assessing the then-proposed Site Z dam site on the Stikine River in Tahltan territory, far Northwestern British Columbia, in the shadow of Mt. Edziza.  Edziza is well known to Northwest Archaeologists as one of the region’s most important sources of obsidian, a volcanic glass highly suitable for making certain kinds of stone tools.

The video, Edziza: Life from Ash and Ice, can be watched in full on the B.C. Knowledge Network’s web site.  (NB: I had to change the resolution from a default of “lousy”).  Obviously the geology of the Edziza Complex is pretty cool (and is covered in the first half of the video, which features John Clague among others), but there’s quite a bit of more direct archaeological interest in the second half.

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R.I.P Hilary Stewart, 1924-2014

Hilary Stewart fish weir

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.

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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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Public Talks on Quadra Island, Monday June 16

Quadra Clam Gardens.  Source: Groesbeck et al. PLOS-1, 2014.

Quadra Island Clam Gardens. Source: Groesbeck et al. PLOS-1, 2014.

Nuyumbalees Cultural Centre and Discovery Passage SeaLife Society present:

1. Sea Level History of the Discovery Islands.
Daryl Fedje, University of Victoria

2. Quadra Island’s Ancient Clam Gardens.
Dana Lepofsky, Simon Fraser University

Monday, June 16th | 7 pm Quadra Island Community Centre

So I usually limit my announcements of public talks to those happening in the Victoria backyard of Blog World Headquarters but it so happens there is one exceptional one coming up on Quadra Island, where I’ll be spending the next week.  The talk, actually two talks, will focus on two archaeological projects underway up there.  The poster advertising the talks is here, or you can read more below.

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Two talks in Victoria next seven days

Burial cairn on Race Rocks.  Source: RaceRocks.com

Burial cairn on Race Rocks. Source: RaceRocks.com

Two very cool talks in Victoria over the next few days.  The first is a unique opportunity to hear from Cowichan (Coast Salish) “gravedigger” Harold C. Joe, who for more than 30 years has worked with archaeologists and anthropologists to care for the disturbed ancestral dead, among his other responsibilities.

The second talk is the monthly ASBC event which features Dr. Andreas Fuls of the Berlin Institute of Technology, who will address a topic in Mayan astronomy and the Mayan collapse.

If you’re not in Victoria you can probably stop reading, but if you click below then you’ll find  more details, including abstracts and the where and when.

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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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Upcoming archaeology talks in Nanaimo

Millennia hearth model screenshot.

Millennia hearth model screenshot from video. Click to go to blog post and view video.

I’ve been asked to post about some upcoming talks in Nanaimo with archaeological interest.  Below I list the talks, which are all co-sponsored to one degree or another between VIU and the Nanaimo ASBC chapter.  The linked posters below give you more information about parking, times, room numbers, abstracts, bios, etc.  All these talks are free and open to the public. For further information then contact mail@asbcnanaimo.ca .

I know many of you are stuck in other lovely places in the world and can’t make it, but for those more local then the details follow.

First up – in just a day or two – is Morley Eldridge of Millennia Research, speaking on his cool uses of digital technology in site recording and excavation.  This is really cool stuff and probably the way of the future for at least some scales of archaeological research. There’s  sneak preview of some of the new methods on the Millennia Blog.

Lecture: A New Methodology for Archaeological Excavation: Mitigative Excavation of GbTo-13 and GbTo-54, Prince Rupert.

Date: Thursday February 6, 2014

Location: VIU Nanaimo campus, Building 356, Lecture Hall 109 (Education/Social Sciences) Time: 11:30 AM – 1:00 PM
ASBC Members, Students and the Public Free! Everyone Welcome.  More instructions on the poster (PDF)

The other talks are by Andrew Martindale (UBC) and Quentin Mackie (UVIC) (no relation).  Details below:

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A Coast Salish Mausoleum, 1864

A Salish Grave, 1864. Watercolour by Edward M. Richardson. No specific locale given. Source: CollectionsCanada.gc.ca

A Salish Grave, 1864. Watercolour by Edward M. Richardson. No specific locale given. Source: CollectionsCanada.gc.ca  Click to enlarge slightly.

“Grave House” is one of those archaeological terms which render slightly creepy a feature that is more or less an everyday experience: the mausoleum, a house for the dead, filled with coffins.

This is a fascinating image I hadn’t come across before: a very early image of a Coast Salish mausoleum.  It highlights the artistry and vividness of these features better than the few sketches or early photographs do. The accompanying text at the Canadian Archives is:

Subject depicts grave boxes in a grave house with guardian figures. The grave house is covered with a roof of wooden planks but has no walls. At the front of the house stands six guardian figures. There are flags to the left and right of the house. On the left hand side of the house a tent is set up and clothes are hanging. A shotgun hangs from the front beam of the house. Item was up for auction in the September 28, 1970 Christie’s sale in Calgary. Lot 31.

The image isn’t very high-resolution but there are still some things to talk about – and there is another Richardson painting I’ll link to in a day or two. (edit: here) Continue reading