Tag Archives: Salish Sea

Final Qwu?gwes wet site report is available for download

Toy war club from Qwu?gwes site.  Source: Qwu?gwes Report.

Toy war club from Qwu?gwes site. Source: Qwu?gwes Report. Click to enlarge.

Dale Croes kindly sent me a link to the final report for the Qwu?gwes wet site (45TN240), which is  is located on Mud Bay at the southern end of Eld Inlet, Puget Sound, near Olympia, Washington (map). The site was apparently first occupied about 800 years ago.  This report, hosted at NewsWARP, checks in at almost 1,000 pages and about 80 megs, and is the product of more than 10 years of field-school and collaborative research with the Squaxin Tribe.  There look to be about two dozen authors. If you’re not up for the whole thing right away,  there’s a much shorter executive summary you can download here. But it’s a really impressive report covering everything from stone to bone to wood, bark, root, wood I.D., ethnobotany, paleo-seismology, fishtraps, and more.  It’s very clearly written at an accessible, non-technical  level, largely by students. I’ll pick out a few of many highlights below. Continue reading

ASBC Victoria – Public Talk Tue Oct 18: Daryl Fedje on Gulf Islands Archaeology

Parks Canada - UVIC Archaeological Project in the Intertidal Zone, 2010.

Next up for the local (Victoria) branch of the Archaeological Society of B.C. is a Tuesday, October 18th talk by Daryl Fedje of Parks Canada Archaeology. Details below; it is free and open to the public.  I know of some of this research to be presented and if I can add an editorial comment:it is now clearly demonstrated that the intertidal zone has very high potential for un-disturbed archaeological deposits, some of which show exceptional preservation.  These include not only classic “waterlogged sites” with woody preservation, but also numerous water-saturated shell middens, and even the remains of intact house features.  I think it’s probable that in the Salish Sea at least, the intertidal zone is a hugely unappreciated zone of interest and I hope the Archaeology Branch and Consulting Archaeologists are working together to make sure it gets a thorough examination. And, if they aren’t, then it would be welcome if First Nations were to apply pressure by demanding routine subsurface testing in intertidal zones as a minimum requirement for shoreline archaeological assessments, perhaps commenting to this effect when reviewing permit applications.  Anyway:

Intertidal Archaeology in the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve

October 18th, 2011, 7:30
pm Pacific Forestry Centre,
506 West Burnside Road (Map)

FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.

Abstract:  Recent investigations in the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve included a focus on the intertidal zone. Analyses of cultural and paleoecological data obtained from these investigations has resulted in a more detailed sea level history for the area and, discovery of a suite of archaeological sites associated with sea levels slightly lower than modern. These now-intertidal sites include intact shell middens and apparent house features dating as early as 4,000 years ago.

Bio: The Victoria ASBC Branch president writes,  “Daryl Fedje is a long-time archaeologist with Parks Canada, now based in Sidney, B.C.  He is widely published, with a respected international reputation.  Research in the Gulf Islands that he directs, co-directs, or facilitates is some of the most current work relevant to the Victoria region – but of course with wider ramifications.

Happy “Birthday”, Vancouver

Unidentified Musqueam Chief as portrayed by Cardero in 1792. Source: Vancouver Sun.

The City of Vancouver had its 125th anniversary yesterday, and the local press was full of reflective pieces on civic leaders, famous visitors, notable crimes and, of course, sports.  Well, it would be churlish not to wish Vancouver Happy Birthday!  Well done, Vancouverites.  But in all the coverage of this momentous event, I only see one single article which acknowledges that people might have lived at the mouth of the Fraser River for a tad longer than 125 years.  And a curious article (PDF)  it is: Ancient history of Vancouver’s first peoples: The city’s history predates its 1886 founding, with a native midden dating back 9,000 years

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MapFrappe Comparative Scale Maps

Vancouver Island, to Scale, off the Coast of Sumatra.

Space is important to archaeologists, but it can be really easy to have a distorted sense of how big the world is, and how big different parts are compared to each other.  One big reason for this globally is that common map projections tend to make more northerly and southerly places appear much larger.  But on a local scale, even knowing that a place is so many square kilometres compared to some other place is not always that illuminating.  It’s hard for a small human to get their head around big spaces, or abstract ones.

This all matters because what archaeologists study is the human scale of feet-on-ground, and it is easy to lose that when confronted with a top-down view, bird-in-air, which apart from anything else, is pretty much a point of view no human has ever occupied, at least until very recently.  It is pretty handy then to find an easy to use online tool called MapFrappe, which allows you to outline a geographic feature, then drag it to anywhere in the world – while preserving its map projection scale.

For example, Vancouver Island is a familiar feature to many NW Coast archaeologists.

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NW Geology Field Trips Lead to Chert?

The Aldergrove Glacial Erratic. source: geocaching.com

This is something a little different, leading to something cool: the NW Geology Blog has assembled quite a few self-guided geological fieldtrips, mostly in the Seattle to Vancouver corridor.  There are two in the Fraser Valley: the Aldergrove glacial erratic, and the Shasta erratic in Coquitlam.  The other BC field trip is to the recent, massive debris flow at Capricorn Creek.

But it was one of the Washington State trips which caught my eye though: a trip to a formation of Stilpnomelane at Blanchard Mountain, Skagit County, near Bellingham Washington.  The reason this caught my eye: the formation is intersected by massive, green chert beds.

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The Skagit River Atlatl

The Skagit River Atlatl. Image © UBC Museum of Anthropology, Photographed by Derek Tan. CC Licenced.

An atlatl, or spear thrower, is a device used to increase the velocity, and hence range or striking power, of a projectile.  These are usually made of wood or other organic material, and hence they seldom survive in the archaeological record.  Some years ago though, one was dragged up in a fishing net from waterlogged conditions in the Skagit River estuary in northern Washington State near Anacortes.  As the UBC Museum of Anthropology describes:

Made of yew, a hard yet flexible wood, the weapon survived 1,700 years buried in alluvium in the Skagit estuary until it was dredged from these silts by a seine fisher’s net in 1939 in the Lower Skagit between Townhead Island and Bald Head Island. It is believed that it hung in a fish shed, perhaps to dry slowly thus preventing some deterioration, until archaeologists became aware of it in the 1950’s.

Rather incongruously, the Southwest Archaeology blog Gambler’s House has had two in-depth posts about this artifact, here and here.  It’s worth reading both as they give excellent background and tons of links.

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Revisiting the Salt Spring Island Archives

Part of the Charles Sampson collection from Salt Spring Island. Source: saltspringarchives.com

Salt Spring Island is a large island in the Salish Sea, close to Vancouver Island’s southeast corner (map).  Quite a while ago I highlighted the photographs of the “Bob Akerman” museum, which comes via the comprehensive Salt Spring Island archives.  There are a few other photo records of archaeological collections there which I thought were worth a quick look.  For example, the picture above from the Charles Sampson Collection shows some fairly spectacular ground slate points to the left, and what may be a Charles phase (ca. 4,000 year old)  contracting stem point to the bottom right.  It’s not just archaeological collections that the archives has going for it, though. Continue reading

Fieldschool Update, and Public Lectures

Screenshot of Times Colonist article - click to go to the story.

I am in town briefly and see the Time-Colonist has an article and photo gallery about the UVIC-Parks Canada archaeological fieldschool in the Gulf Islands.  It’s a pretty good article with some nice quotes from the students about their experience, and which emphasizes how threatened some archaeological sites are.  It would have been nice to see more acknowledgment of local First Nations and of the hard work Parks Canada’s liaison team is doing to help build relationships around cultural resource management.  It’s very early days for the field school but in the medium term it hopes to be of service to First Nations and their archaeological questions and concerns. A big part of that is the specific focus on archaeological site assessment and management skills being taught by the course instructor, Dr Duncan McLaren, and another big part is the presence of paid First Nations interns who will be taking the field school – only one this year but more in the future it is hoped.  Anyway, the article tells part of the story very effectively and the reporter and photographer had an interesting time with the fieldschool and vice versa.

In related news, I’ll be giving a public talk about Salish Sea archaeology with a fieldschool update this Friday July 30 on Pender Island at 7.00 in the Anglican Hall.  Then, my mini road trip takes me to Saturna Island on July 31 for a talk at 7.30 at the Community Hall.  Otherwise, there probably will be no updates here until the middle of August.

Times-Colonist screenshot - click to go to story.

UVIC Archaeology Field School

I hear through the grapevine that the 2010 University of Victoria Field School in Archaeology still has a couple of spaces available.  The project, in conjunction with Parks Canada and with the Hul’qumi’num Treaty Group, will run July 5 to August 13 or so in the southern Gulf Islands.  Students will take Anthropology 343 and 344 at UVIC and there will be a camp fee, to cover the costs of running the project and a camp on a Gulf Island for four weeks – one of the unferried ones: Portland Island.  There is more information about the course at the University of Victoria Anthropology Web site, including a PDF application form you can download.  The course will be taught by Dr. Duncan McLaren, who can be reached at dsmclaren {{at}} gmail dot com for more information.  Other UVIC faculty* and Parks Canada archaeologists will be taking part as well, as well as First Nations apprentices.  This particular course will be focused on skills needed in Cultural Resource Management jobs, as well as the cultural history of the Salish Sea and other related topics.  If you know someone who might be interested, or have students looking for a pretty good  fieldschool, consider circulating this information soon, as I hear the field school needs to finalize its numbers soon and there will be a second look at applications received.

*since this is my personal web site and is not affiliated with my day job, you’ll have to click the links to find out who that might be.

William Alexander’s Watercolours of Vancouver’s Voyage

Village of the Friendly Indians near Bute's Canal. Watercolour by William Alexander. Source: University of Illinois.

Yesterday I posted an engraved  view of  a village near the entrance to Bute Inlet, the view seen in 1792 during the voyage of Captain Vancouver.  Much as with the earlier posts on John Webber (1, 2, 3), there are multiple versions of these scenes.  The above shows a watercolour rendering made by William Alexander, a well known artist and draughtsman of the late 18th century.  It seems his series of works on the NW Coast was not done from life but was a commissioned finalization of the drawings of William Daniell, who was actually on Vancouver’s voyages, and perhaps other artists/oficer’s sketches.  At least that is the story I’ve been able to winkle out, starting from a position of sheer ignorance.  Nicely, though, Alexander’s watercolours from the Vancouver Voyage series, covering Alaska, the Northwest Coast and some views of California and Chile, are all available online through the Newberry Library at the University of Illinois.  These renderings were not familiar to me and perhaps not to you, either.

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