Tag Archives: RBCM

More on Stone Bowls and Reality Shows

Screenshot from Times-Colonist of Qualicum bowl which may be subjected to reality TV auction by CBC.

Screenshot from Times-Colonist of Qualicum bowl which may be subjected to reality TV auction by CBC.  Click to enlarge.

The Times-Colonist has another article (PDF) on the seated human figure bowl which may go up for auction as part of a crass CBC reality TV show. The new article has some good information about the bowl from Grant Keddie and reactions from the B.C. Archaeology Branch and the CBC.  Thanks to twoeyes for posting this article in comments in the prior post; I thought it needed a new entry of its own.

The bowl was apparently found in Qualicum Beach in 1988, and is known to the Royal BC Museum – it has been photographed by them (see screenshot above).  I’m not sure if there has been any publications about this bowl, if the Qualicum First Nation knew about it before this mini-controversy, or what has been said to the owner about the importance of the item. The Times-Colonist does have some interesting quotes from those involved.

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Highlights from the Kwäday Dän Ts’ìnchi Project

Screenshot from the online document about Kwäday Dän Ts’ìnchi, showing his iron-bladed “man’s tool”, and a small copper bead found with the body. Source: Royal BC Museum.

[Edit Nov 2017: The Book is now available, also through Amazon, etc.]

Many readers of this ever-more occasional blog will be aware of the exciting and profound discovery in 1999 of the well-preserved remains of a young man frozen in a glacier in Northwestern British Columbia.  Found within the traditional territory of the Champagne-Aishihik First Nation, the man was given the name Kwäday Dän Ts’ìnchi, or “Long Ago Person Found.”  In the spirit of discovering what messages from the past that Kwäday Dän Ts’ìnchi might bearing, a remarkable collaborative research project was commenced. Results of this study have been presented at numerous conferences and in the scientific literature, but a landmark event hopefully just around the corner is the publication of a book recounting all the cultural and scientific knowledge borne into the present by this unfortunate young man.

While we wait for the book, it is very exciting to see that the Royal BC Museum has made a non-technical, well-illustrated overview document online which tells the main threads of the story of Kwäday Dän Ts’ìnchi. (edit, try this link instead, RBCM seems to have killed this document?)

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Images from the Likeness House

Cover of Dan Savard's new book. The RBCM caption reads: "This man has been variously identified as a chief from four different areas of BC’s interior, including possibly Tyee Jim from the central interior (tyee means “chief” in Chinook, a trade language). John Wallace Jones or Thomas McNabb Jones photograph, about 1897." Source of this photo: Amazon.ca

There is an exciting new book in the pipeline on early photography and First Nations of the historic period.  The author, Dan Savard, is senior collections manager of the Royal BC Museum’s anthropology audio and visual collection.  The promotional blurb reads:

On a winter’s day in 1889, Tsimshian Chief Arthur Wellington Clah visited Hannah and Richard Maynard’s photography studio in Victoria to have his portrait taken. “Rebekah ask if I going likeness house,” Chief Clah wrote in his diary, “So I go, to give myself likeness. Rebekah stand longside me.” In Images from the Likeness House, Dan Savard explores the relationship between First Peoples in British Columbia, Alaska and Washington and the photographers who made images of them from the late 1850s to the 1920s.

I won’t be here (have some bottom sampling to attend to in Haida Gwaii), but Dan is giving a free public lecture and will sign copies of his book next week at the RBCM.

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Bird bones at the RBCM

Swainson's Hawk skull. Three views from RBCM Avian Osteology site.

I made a post the other day on a cool M.A. thesis about how to tell deer, bear and human wrist and ankle bones apart.  Identification of bones is one of the essential specialist activities in archaeology: the bones don’t come out of the ground labelled, and yet they are a key way to understand past diet, behaviour and environmental change.  Being able to identify a bone from the ground to the species it comes from requires a collection of bones of known species – a comparative collection – and these do not grow on trees.  They are laborious to produce and finicky to curate.  The one at the University of Victoria, for example, contains over 1,500 skeletons and is in constant use by archaeologists and biologists, not to mention the awesomely talented people at Pacific IDentifications. Mind you, the UVIC collection is one of the best anywhere in North America, but most archaeology departments and even many consulting archaeologists attempt to have a basic comparative collection on hand.  This is a burdensome chore!

While looking at pictures will never be a substitute for a three-dimensional bone for comparison, it can nonetheless be better than nothing.  It is therefore nice to see a really useful, if preliminary, set of web pages at the Royal B.C. Museum on Avian osteology.

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Arrow from Tsitsutl Peak Glacier, Western B.C.

400 year old arrow or dart from Tsitsutl glacier, B.C. Source: Keddie and Nelson: 2005.

In 1924, a land surveyor found an arrow at an elevation of 2,100 metres near Tsitsutl Peak in west-central British Columbia (map).  The arrow made its way to the Royal BC Museum where it lay for over 80 years, until a timely inquiry and increased awareness of ice-patch archaeology stimulated a small research program.  This research, initiated by RBCM curator Grant Keddie and reported in the Canadian Journal of Archaeology (Keddie and Nelson 2005), establishes that the arrow is about 400 years old.

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A Saanich Peninsula short-faced bear

Post removed by request.

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Reminder: RBCM Open House

If you are in Victoria, this is a reminder that the RBCM open house is today and tomorrow, at which they will explain about their “zoning application”, which I hope means they will also be ready to explain what they plan on doing with the rezoned land (I commented on this previously).  I see in today’s Times-Colonist they lost $491,000 last year, and are projecting no travelling shows until 2012, except the Terracotta Army.  That and the British Museum exhibit each cost about 3 million dollars to mount, as an off-the-shelf travelling exhibit here for a few months.  How much permanent exhibit could one buy for $3,00,000, which would pay for itself every day of the year?  I know they have been forced into a particular niche by funding constraints and all – but it seems to me they are in a financial and existential crisis.  Therefore I hope they are sincere about gathering meaningful public input because I suspect regular readers of this blog have a lot to say about it.

When:  March 6 & 7 2010
Where:  Royal BC Museum
675 Belleville Street
Newcombe Conference Hall

What to Expect: Open House hours between Noon – 3:00 pm.  Zoning project team members will be on-site to answer any questions, and/or have a conversation with you about zoning the Royal BC Museum site.