Shell beads from DjRw-14. Large grid is one centimetre, small is one millimetre. Note the interior diameters of less than one millimetre. Picture courtesy of Dr. Terry Clark, CMC. Click to enlarge.
The previous post on the remarkable bead-rich burials in shíshálh territory generated a great discussion including contributions from some of the project leaders. It’d be good to continue that discussion! But one additional point, as Jesse Morin notes in those comments, and as one of the project leaders Terry Clark raised in an email to me, is the question of, quite simply, how are all these beads getting made? As you can see in the picture above, these shell beads have a hole diameter of less than one millimetre. Terry describes some of the holes being not much larger than a human hair!
Posted in Archaeology, Northwest Coast, Technology
Tagged beads, cultural complexity, ground shell, ground stone, organic technology, Sechelt, shíshálh, shell, Technology
Duwamish composite stone anchor. Source: UW.
I was talking the other day about how under-represented organic technology is in archaeology generally, and especially on the Northwest Coast, where the old adage is that 95% of the technology was made out of plants (trees, wood, bark, roots, grasses, seaweeds). A classic example of this phenomenon are anchor stones and sinker stones. While some of these stones had grooves or perforated holes (and are thereby very visible and durable in the archaeological record), many may have been made by the more simple, subtle and expedient method of simply wrapping line or basketry around an unmodified rock. When the organic component rots away, as it will most of the time, then the archaeologist has, well, an unmodified rock.
Anyway, it was a lucky stroke for my current interest that I came across the above photo from the University of Washington Digital Archives.
Posted in Archaeology, Northwest Coast, Technology, Washington State
Tagged Archaeology, Duwamish, Hoko River, organic technology, reef netting, Technology, underwater archaeology, waterlogged sites, wet sites
Kelsey, Rodney and Jinky in the older deposits at Hiikwis.
The local (Victoria) branch of the Archaeological Society of B.C. is firing up it’s winter lecture series. The first talk is on Tuesday, and features UVic’s own Kelsey MacLean, speaking on the enigmatic stone tool assemblage from Hiikwis, in Barkley Sound. Details below; it is free and open to the public.
M.A. Candidate, University of Victoria
Chipped Stone in Barkley Sound.
Abstract: In 2008, Hiikwis became the first archaeological site in Barkley Sound with a significant sample of chipped stone materials. This material provides new insights into the culture history of Barkley Sound and the Nuu-chah-nulth peoples. It is well known that settlement patterns changed drastically in Barkley Sound from approximately 1500 to 1000 AD (Marshall 1993:40), which is a period of occupation represented at Hiikwis. Although the population movements both before and during this time have been theorized about before, Hiikwis is causing researchers to reconsider their previous assertions. Analysis of the chipped stone materials aims to determine who created these stone tools, and why there is a relative abundance of these tools at this site in contrast to the surrounding excavated locations. Essentially, why are there chipped stone tools here, but not next door?
Bio: Kelsey MacLean is currently an MA candidate at the University of Victoria. She is an executive member of the Victoria Branch of the Archaeological Society of BC and has a BA in Anthropology and Sociology from the University of Victoria. Her first fieldwork experience was in Barkley Sound in 2008 and she has returned each summer for further research. Her interest in the Tseshaht and the Barkley Sound region led to her pursuing her MA thesis project within this extended archaeological project.
SEP. 20, 2011, 7:30
pm Pacific Forestry Centre,
506 West Burnside Road.
From near Seattle, the Yukon Harbor Clovis Point. Source: LeTourneau 2010
Some time ago, I made a post illustrating that Clovis projectile points are known from a number of undated contexts in Puget Sound. Most of these are surface finds, though a couple were buried in or under wetland deposits. These were largely under the archaeological radar until Croes et al. briefly summarized the data within a book chapter on Puget Sound Projectile Points. One of the wetland finds was from Yukon Harbor on the Kitsap Peninsula, across Puget Sound from Seattle, of which I previously posted a low-quality photo. A short article describing this artifact has recently been published in the journal Current Research in the Pleistocene, and the author, Phil LeTourneau of Seattle’s Burke Museum, was kind enough to send me a copy.
Magnetometry map of the Bridge River Site housepits. Source: Prentiss et al. 2009
Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to see what was underground without having to go through the time-consuming, expensive and destructive process of digging it up? There are some nice geophysics techniques in archaeology for doing just that, though none are yet a substitute for excavation. I noticed the other day (and you were quizzed on it) that there is a very comprehensive recent report online (45 meg PDF) by Anna Marie Prentiss and colleagues, on work at the middle Fraser pithouse village of Bridge River (EeRl-4). This village lies in the territory of Bridge River Band (Xwisten) and the St’át’imc Nation. While there is a huge amount of archaeological interest across the 350 page report as a whole, it was the use of geophysics on an interior pithouse village which got my attention.
Posted in Archaeology, Cultural Resource Management, Northwest Interior, Technology
Tagged Fraser River, geophysics, household archaeology, housepits, magnetometry, pithouses, Salish, St'at'imc First Nations
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.
Ground slate ulu blades in progress. Source: Tim Rast, Elfshot.
I’ve mentioned before the terrific Back East archaeology blog Elfshot, in which Tim Rast documents his journey of “making a living as a 21st century flintknapper”. Flintknapping is all well and good, of course, but the real magic lies with ground stone, which for many years has been marginalized in archaeology as being, well, obvious and uninteresting. I think one paper I read digresses with an anecdote about the author’s toddler son independently inventing the technology! If it is so obvious, though, then why is it only selectively implemented by people in certain environments, at certain times, to certain degrees of intensity?
Dense fish trap / weir in an Oregon estuary. Source: Byram pdf @ WARP website
(edit: I completely stupidly mixed up who did the poster under discussion. Apologies all around, fixed the text below)
I mentioned the Wetland Archaeology Research Project (WARP) and their revamped website once before in reference to Nancy Greene’s pioneering fishtrap work at Comox. I’m glad to see they have another interesting conference-style poster available for download, this one by Robert Losey (now at the University of Alberta) Scott Byram on the topic of Oregon fish weirs in unusual settings (PDF).
If a cow patch strikes you as an unusual setting, of course.
Work on the log begins. Source: Yukon Canoe Project.
I just found an interesting blog that traces a community project to carve a Tlingit style dugout canoe on the banks of the Yukon River near Whitehorse:
Nineteen young Yukon carvers made history by creating a 30-foot red cedar dugout canoe. Under the leadership of Tlingit Master Carver Wayne Price, the carvers went on a journey of discovery.
An island on the east side of the Yukon River became their home for the next two months as went go back on the land to learn the traditional techniques for carving a dugout canoe.
A gravestone with lichen growth. Source: designscience.com
I was reading the charming Bella Coola Blog the other day and came across an interesting post discussing how lichen had been used to date glacial features in the area. So-called lichenometry is a well-established dating technique which relies on the principle that lichen grows in roughly circular patterns, and that there is a linear relationship between the diameter of the circle and the age of the lichen patch. Now, such patches can be many hundreds of years old. So for an event where rock is newly exposed and then lichen grows on it, the lichen will give a minimum date on when the bare rock was first available as a lichen environment. Anytime you have a bare rock and a dating technique for when the rock became bare, the archaeology antennae rise.
Posted in Archaeology, history, Northwest Coast, Technology
Tagged Archaeology, Bella Coola, british columbia, cemeteries, lichen, lichenometry, Northwest Coast, Nuxalk