Parks Canada Archaeologist near Huxley Island
So, it’s been a while without a post here so apologies to compulsive page-refreshers and lonely groupies. I see lots of interesting comments – I’ll try to get caught up soon. For now, here is the announcement about the Victoria ASBC meeting coming up this Tuesday. It’s great to see that there is going to be some dialogue between the ASBC and the UASBC – two solitudes far too much of the time.
Underwater Archaeological Society of BC
Exploring the Underwater Heritage of British Columbia
TUESDAY April 17, 2012, 7:30 pm
Pacific Forestry Centre,
506 West Burnside Road. (map)
Free and Open to the Public
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.“
Posted in Archaeology, Cultural Resource Management, Northwest Coast, Shell Middens, underwater archaeology, Vancouver Island
Tagged Archaeological Society of BC, ASBC, CRM, Gulf Islands, Intertidal, Salish Sea, waterlogged sites, wet sites
3-D Sonar Scan of A.J. Goddard historic sternwheeler from Yukon. Source: Montreal Gazette.
A year or two ago, the well-preserved wreck of the Klondike-era paddlewheeler A.J. Goddard was found in Lake Lebarge on the Yukon River. The find (which is now protected) got a lot of attention because of the ghostly images (click on the very high resolution pop-up ones here) as much as the historical significance. The wreck was recently in the news again because divers had found some vinyl phonograph records which had the potential to be played. Listening to the music of the dead crewmen of a ship evocative of the Cremation of Sam McGee would create close, perhaps emotional, connection with these poor unfortunates.
Being made of stern stuff (heh) what I am more interested in is the intriguing sonar image (above) that accompanied the mainstream press coverage. The phonograph is cool, but archaeologically the more significant development are the new technologies being used on wrecks in general and some Yukon wrecks in particular.
I found more images and a very short article at Wired magazine and they are worth a look, as is much of the background info from the Institute of Nautical Archaeology (INA), which includes a photo gallery. Edit: you can view a nice video of BluView and OceanGate’s sonar model of the wreck here.
Posted in Archaeology, history, Northwest Interior, underwater archaeology
Tagged historical archaeology, LiDAR, paddlewheelers, shipwrecks, Sonar, underwater archaeology, Yukon, Yukon River
The Skagit River Atlatl. Image © UBC Museum of Anthropology, Photographed by Derek Tan. CC Licenced.
, 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.
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.
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
Cannon from the Kadyak on the seafloor near Kodiak Island. Source: Archaeology Magazine.
Off Alaska’s Kodiak Island lie the remains of the Russian-American Company ship Kad’yak, which sank in 1860. The wreck of this Barque was rediscovered in 2003, as this first-hand account documents. (It is full of the usual intrigue between divers and dirters and is rich with interesting links about the discovery). Almost immediately, an underwater archaeological research project was formed, participants included people from the Kodiak Maritime Museum, the Baranov Museum, the Alutiiq Museum, the State of Alaska Department of Natural Resources, NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service in Kodiak, and East Carolina University. This was the first underwater archaeology project in Alaska, and it is ably documented by the Alaska Office of History and Archaeology.
Posted in alaska, Archaeology, history, Northwest Coast, underwater archaeology
Tagged alaska, Kad'yak, kodiak island, Princess Sophia, SCUBA, shipwrecks, underwater archaeology
EDIT February 22, 2010: Pictures removed after communication from Lee Rentz (see comments).
Dale Croes has been doing great work for years on wet site archaeology, most notably a long association with the Hoko River wet and dry sites on the Olympic Peninsula. More recently he has spent a decade or so at the Squaxin Tribe’s Qwu?gwes waterlogged site near Olympia, Washington. I see that Lee Rentz’s Photography blog has a nice photo essay on the Qwu?gwes site called Ghosts Dwell in the Lowering Tide.
Wet sites can produce locally anaerobic (oxygen depleted) environments, preventing or slowing bacterial degradation of organics. This allows survival of many artifact types which rapidly deteriorate in normal archaeological settings. At Hoko, there are well preserved wooden artifacts over 2,000 years old, at Qwu?gwes the material is mostly about 700 years old. Similar sites elsewhere on the Northwest Coast are mostly less than 5,000 years old, with the notable outlier of Kilgii Gwaay, which is 10,500 years old. Since some estimates put wood artifacts at 90% or more of NW Coast technology, you can imagine how revealing these rare, and increasingly threatened, waterlogged sites are.
The photos at Lee Rentz’s blog are excellent, and the text is accurate and informative. Good to see! If you want to find out more, some scholarly and other articles can be downloaded here, or you can work at Qwu?gwes yourself as part of a field school.
Posted in Archaeology, Northwest Coast, underwater archaeology, Washington State
Tagged Dale Croes, Intertidal, Olympia, Puget Sound, Qwu?gwes, Squaxin, Washington State, waterlogged sites, wet sites
Part of a sunken fleet of recreational dories, Emerald Bay, California.
The US National Parks Service has a useful page summarizing policies and laws regarding “submerged resources” – which includes underwater archaeological sites. The sections most of interest to the six readers of this blog are probably the pages on Washington State, Alaska, Oregon and California — though the fact that Idaho has a page is, at least, surprising until you remember the importance of paddle-wheelers in the earlier interior historical period all over the west.
Posted in Archaeology, California, history, Northwest Interior, Northwest Coast, Uncategorized, underwater archaeology
Tagged alaska, Archaeology, California, CRM, Idaho, Northwest Coast, Oregon, underwater archaeology, Washington State
The three-masted ship Carelmapu with decks awash, dragging her anchors into Schooner Cove, near Tofino, in 1915
The ‘Virtual Museum of Canada“ has been responsible for some nice online exhibits, although a lot of these are now fairly dated. One with what we could call a “retro web design”, but some good content, is the Shipwrecks of Vancouver Island site, apparently put together mainly on the watch of the Maritime Museum of BC with help from the Underwater Archaeological Society of BC. There are some nice videos of underwater archaeology, and other informative materials.
Site navigation, though, is much easier if you just go to the site map here — the absurdly finicky navigation does weird things like, say, means using the back button always takes you to a splash introduction screen — is a crime against the web. Especially since museum people are involved: why such disdain for solid future-proof web design values? This page, for example, has a nifty slider to scroll through an interactive map: but if you don’t pay attention (e.g., if you use your back button) you will always end up on a “loading XML – introduction to the database” overlay screen page which gets tired after about the third time. The VMC should consider a legacy fund to make sure that the sites which they poured money into for a while can all be kept up to date for both content and also compliance or at least ease of use. It would not surprise me in the slightest if the VMC had spent over $100,000 on this site — the one site of their I know something about they spent $140,000 and it is no flashier than this thing. Almost all that money went into design and mounting of content, very little went to the content creators themselves. If that applied here, I think we have a right to expect more – is this site design worth $100,000? It seems to me that, even in 2004, a competent web designer working alone, with content given by others, could have put this together in about a month.
Canadian Navy diver goes overboard in 1959 to examine the 1853 wreck of the Lord Western, near Flores Island.
Posted in Archaeology, archives, Cultural Resource Management, Northwest Coast, underwater archaeology, Vancouver Island
Tagged Archaeology, archives, history, museums, Northwest Coast, shipwrecks, underwater archaeology, Virtual Museum of Canada