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
Gwayasdums house under construction 1899. Source: SFU.
The Bill Reid Centre for Northwest Coast Art Studies is part of the Department of Archaeology and First Nation Studies at Simon Fraser University, although it is physically located in downtown Vancouver. It currently shares space with the Bill Reid Gallery on Hornby St., near SFU’s Harbour Centre Campus. They have a website that looks to be growing fast with some good content – and despite the name of the centre, it is not only about Haida Art, or even just about Art:
A major activity of the Centre is to visually document through photographs, drawings and other works, the depth and richness of Northwest Coast Art in the hundreds of communities in which monumental architecture and sculpture were recorded.
I’ll point out a few highlights and make some comments “after the jump”
"Village of the Friendly Indians at the Entrance of Bute's Canal", 1792. Click for zoomable version.
The above image shows a seemingly improbable Kwiakah Kwakwaka’wakw Village (EDIT: probably Homathko Coast Salish Village) at the entrance to Bute Inlet, as drawn in 1792 by a member of Captain Vancouver’s expedition. With the houses scattered up a steep hillside, the top one apparently partially cantilevered out, it does not fit the average archaeologist’s mental model of a typical Northwest Coast village. The setting would undoubtedly have some defensive advantages, at least for those at the top. I know of another image of a steeply-tiered village site which is apparently not strictly a defensive site. Hard to live on the side of such a steep hill, you might think. Wouldn’t it be nice to have photographs of such a village? Aha.
Posted in alaska, anthropology, Archaeology, First Nations, history, Northwest Coast
Tagged alaska, Bute Inlet, household archaeology, houses, Inupiat, King Island, Kwakwaka'wakw, Kwiakah, stilts
Old Man House: computer reconstruction of one end. Source: Suquamish Tribe.
“Old Man House” is on the Kitsap Peninsula just north of Bainbridge island, across Puget Sound from modern downtown Seattle. The “house” was the subject of one of the earlier excavations on the NW Coast by Warren Snyder and team from the University of Washington. The house formed the locus of a major village of the Suquamish Tribe, and its most famous historic resident was Chief Sealth, also known as Chief Seattle. The Suquamish Tribe has a very nice poster on the history and archaeology of Old Man House which can be downloaded from their website – clicking here will start a moderately sized JPG file. (Edit 2018: archived copy here)
Interpretive sketch of Old Man House. Source: Suquamish Tribe.
It is a bit of misnomer to call this structure a “house” though.
Posted in anthropology, Archaeology, First Nations, history, Northwest Coast, Washington State
Tagged Duwamish, ethnohistory, Households, houses, Old Man House, Puget Sound, Seattle, Suquamish, Washington State
Overview map of Coast Salish Villages of Puget Sound. Click to go to the page of interactive maps at coastsalishmap.org
Tom Dailey has put together a large and very interesting site which documents the Coast Salish villages of Puget Sound. The core of the site is a series of clickable maps (see the left hand side black/white map grid), each of which is marked with little village icons. Clicking on these icons takes you to a master document with a synopsis of the settlement name and, usually, a couple of sentences about the village. These are referenced to scholarly literature and other sources. It is striking to see all these villages on one map, and notable how many are shown on rivers and lakes.
Posted in anthropology, Archaeology, Northwest Coast, Washington State
Tagged anthropology, Bellingham, Coast Salish, household archaeology, houses, Olympic Peninsula, Puget Sound, Salish Sea, San Juan Islands, Seattle, Straits Salish
Painting of a village in Nootka Sound, 1778, by John Webber. Source: State Library of New South Wales. Click for larger original.
Yesterday I linked to the original watercolour of a 1778 Nootka Sound house interior by John Webber, which is the basis for the widely reproduced engraving. Today we can take a look at Webber’s original painting of a Nootka Sound village, presumably Yuquot but not so labelled, as found at the State Library of New South Wales (though yesterday’s post brought forth questions as to whether these are watercolours or coloured engravings – see the comments). The first and most important point is, see that lumpy, dissected landform in front of the houses? That, my friends, is what an active shell midden looks like. No wonder they can be such stratigraphic nightmares.
Posted in anthropology, Archaeology, First Nations, Northwest Coast, Vancouver Island
Tagged Archaeology, Captain Cook, ethnohistory, household archaeology, houses, John Webber, nootka sound, Nuu-chah-nulth
1778 Watercolour by John Webber of the interior of a house in Nootka Sound. Source: State Library of New South Wales. Click for original.
A few days ago I posted a beautiful watercolour of Nootka Sound by John Webber, artist on Cook’s third voyage. In the ensuing discussion, it was brought up how nice it would be to see the original watercolours of more of his paintings, which often formed the basis for the numerous engraved reproductions which are what one normally sees. The loss of information in moving from the original to the engraving is something of an unknown quantity, and I for one had never seen the watercolours. Until yesterday!
Posted in anthropology, Archaeology, First Nations, history, Northwest Coast, Vancouver Island
Tagged Captain Cook, ethnohistory, First Nations, Friendly Cove, history, household archaeology, houses, John Webber, nootka sound, Nuu-chah-nulth, Yuquot