Fishtrap stakes delineating chevron patterns in the intertidal zone of Comox Harbour. Photo credit: Greene 2010.
I posted once before some time ago on the incredible fishtrap complexes in Comox Harbour on eastern Vancouver Island, highlighting Megan Caldwell’s M.A. thesis (downloadable) on the topic, and mentioning in passing that primacy of investigation should perhaps go to Nancy Greene, who has been mapping and dating these features for about a decade. I was glad to find the other day that Nancy Greene has a 2010 downloadable poster on the topic (link starts a 4 meg PDF) from an academic conference: WARP, the Wetland Archaeological Research Project, which itself has a nifty new website.
These Comox Harbour fishtraps are one of the wonders of B.C. Archaeology and it is highly welcome to see some more of Greene’s reconstructions and mapping.
Posted in alaska, anthropology, Archaeology, First Nations, history, Northwest Coast, Technology, underwater archaeology, Vancouver Island
Tagged alaska, Comox, fish weirs, fishing, fishtraps, herring, Intertidal, Q’umu?xs, salmon, Vancouver Island
Chevron-shaped fishtraps in Comox Harbour. From Caldwell 2008.
The University of Manitoba is in on the dSpace trend. The most notable thesis I found there was Megan Caldwell’s excellent analysis of some Comox Harbour fishtraps in relation to the Q’umu?xs Village site (DkSf-19). Sixteen carbon dates are now available on these traps, thanks mainly to the work of Nancy Greene. Caldwell takes a theoretical stance of Optimal Foraging Theory, arguing that fishtraps amount to “artificial patches” which can alter choices made under Patch Selection principles. Essentially, a similar and more holistic argument could be made using principles of the “built environment” in an Ingoldian sense, but OFT is more structured and maybe more suitable for an MA thesis. Interestingly, Caldwell’s work on auger sampling of the Q’umu?xs Village site shows a preponderance of herring, which is also interpreted as the target prey of the fishtraps. This runs against the grain of the ethnographic work she conducted, where she was told that salmon were more important — mind you, salmon have difficult taphonomy and site formation processes, which she acknowledges. In any case, this is a well organized, focused thesis which reflects a lot of high quality original work and while I haven’t read the whole thing I intend to do so! Caldwell mentions Nancy Greene is still working on her fish trap study and I hope to see the results of that soon as well — these Comox Harbour trap complexes are very likely the finest of their type anywhere on the Northwest Coast and may well offer key insight into cultural construction of the landscape and its resources. Download her thesis here!
Map of Fishtrap Stakes in Comox Harbour. From Caldwell 2008.
Schematic of two basic fishtrap designs. From Caldwell 2008.
Posted in Archaeology, dSpace, Northwest Coast, Shell Middens, Technology, underwater archaeology, Vancouver Island
Tagged Archaeology, Comox, fish traps, fish weirs, fishing, Intertidal, Northwest Coast, zooarchaeology