Sorry for the delay. We have many new finds to report. We also toured several other nearby archaeological sites with Kenzie Jessome, shíshálh archaeologist and tems swiya, the shíshálh Nation museum. But first some pics of what we are finding and shots of us looking good.

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Here is a great unilaterally-barbed bone point. This is the base section of a fishing implement, likely used for salmon.
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A nice abrasive stone. This specimen has wear consistent with making bone points just like the one above and below.
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Here is a tip of a bone point of a bone awl.
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Capture
One of my favourite technologies. A composite-toggling harpoon valve. This ingenious tool was used to hunt sea mammals and even large fish. Made up of two valves like this and an arming point made of stone or bone, the harpoon was thrust into an animal from the end of a large spear. Once inside, the harpoon detached and turned sideways, ensuring that the harpoon could not fit back out the hole it entered. The seal, porpoise, salmon (or even whale in other areas), was firmly attached to the retrieving line and was very unlikely to escape. The illustration is from Loy and Powell.

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A quartz crystal microblade. These are the most dominant artifact type we have found this summer. This one is one of the prettiest.

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Dayton and Natasha becoming buxom buddies in their unit.

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Joseph, Aaron and Devin, seemingly unaware they are having their photograph taken.

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A beach walk during our visit of nearby archaeological sites.

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Gary talking about archaeology.

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The iPads working well.

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Steve focused on finding herring bone from the screen.

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Kim working hard.

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Erin wondering if this is something or not, it was!

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Joseph finding a decorated brow band. He seems quite pleased with himself. Good find Joe!

a few new finds

Just a quick post showing a few cool artifacts our students are finding. The pace of finds is quickening as we get into the meat of the site. Stay stuned for a more substantial update this weekend.

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Dayton showing off a quartz crystal microblade.

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Kim and Gretchen with a pecked stone net weight.

the dig goes on…

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Today starts the first full week of digging at Porpoise Bay, a perfect time to talk about where we are and what we are doing. We have chosen to excavate at the site of DjRw 1, located along the shore of Porpoise Bay in Sechelt Inlet. We have previously excavated at this location in 2009 and 2010.

In those field seasons we found long-term site use dating back to at least 4000 years. This year we are aiming our efforts on the older component, associated with the Charles culture, which existed between 3500 and 5500 years ago. This time period is not well-known in the Sechelt area, but our previous research has shown it to be absolutely fascinating.

We have laid out our units on a low, flat terrace about 4 metres above the high tide line and about 20 metres inland. Each unit has a team of university and high school students working together to excavate it. This year our crew comes from Wilfrid Laurier University, the University of British Columbia, the University of Victoria, and the project partners, the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the University of Toronto and the shíshálh Nation.

The units are paired 1x1s, staggered a metre apart from each other pair back from the shoreline. Undisturbed cultural material was first encountered only several centimetres below the surface, and consisted of shell and vertebrate faunal remains in a dark matrix typical of the surface of many Northwest Coast shell-bearing sites. Today’s excavations brought us down to areas more dense with shell, typical of midden dumping areas. These deposits have lots of small fish bones and fragments of land mammal bones. In one area we found a dump of fish heads – there were more cranial elements than stones and roots in the screen!

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Analysis of this deposit will likely allow us to say something interesting about fish processing practices at this site. In terms of artifacts, we have recovered several quartz crystal microblades, a small finely crafted bead, and half of a ground stone net weight. In one unit we have a potential hearth and post-mould associated with a pile of fire cracked rock – good evidence that we may encounter architectural remains this season.

We have also opened a unit closer to the waterfront. Previous excavations at DjRw-1 and other work at sites in the inlets suggests that these sites are formed by dumping off the front bank of the site, so we may expect this area to date from a more recent time; though eroding deposits at the wave cut bank in front of these units suggest that the cultural material may approach 2 meters depth. Already this unit is dense with vertebrate faunal remains.

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First day back in the field

Our crew toured the site that will be our second home for the next month, a beautiful sun-soaked, beach -front strip of forested heaven near Sechelt, BC.

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Gary leading the site tour

After laying out our units and splitting up into teams, we broke out the fleet of iPads and embarked on a summer without paper. Luckily our crew, many from high school in Sechelt, knew more about iPads then we did.

As the rich dark humus was pulled back the entire crew couldn’t help but think about the treasures soil from the past would bring. As the dirt was scraped from the surface and began filling the buckets you could often here the phrases ‘giver’ and ‘dude’ being tossed around from unit to unit.

The first artifact of the season came from Devin and Bryn. A simple obsidian flake, but still a good sign that we will find lots of artifacts this summer.

The iPads are working well, knock on wood, and we have already noted a few small tweaks we will do to the forms this weekend. I will post our updated forms for download next week.

Well it seems like we have a great crew and everyone is pretty excited to be in the field. It looks to be a great season ahead. Stay tuned.

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the 2013 Crew

Gearing up!

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Only two weeks now until we head out to the Sunshine Coast and the crew is starting to get excited. We are loading up our gear, including this pile of toolkits and iPads. Building on the success of Dr. Matthew Betts’ E’se’get Archaeology Project, we will be going “paperless” this year. You can check out past seasons of his archaeology project blog here: http://coastalarchaeology.wordpress.com/.

This summer all of our forms, profiles and field notes will be digital (in .pdf format) and created on our six project iPads. This should provide us with a huge time savings, as we won’t need to transcribe, trace or otherwise tinker with field data after we return from the field. We have modified Matt’s forms somewhat to meet our specific needs. I will post downloadable versions that you can use soon. In the meantime have a look at our layout and let me know what you think.

ARTIFACT RECORD Sechelt 2013_Page_1

C14 SAMPLE RECORD sechelt_Page_1

FEATURE RECORD Sechelt 2013_Page_1

UNIT LEVEL RECORD 2013 Sechelt_Page_1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another huge benefit to using iPads is the accessibility of reference material. I have compiled information booklets on the local culture history, artifact manufacturing, different types of stone, bone, antler and shell artifacts, skeletal diagrams of common animals we might encounter and a few other interesting topics. All of these are loaded onto the iPads so that each excavation unit has them at their fingertips.

I think every Northwest Coast archaeologist has a standard five-minute speech explaining why we find plenty of fire cracked rock in sites. We explain that there was no pottery in the region and people used cedar bentwood boxes instead to cook some of their meals, which of course could not be placed over the fire. Rocks were heated and placed with tongs, into the water-filled boxes to heat the liquid and cook food within. The rapid change in temperature sometimes caused the rocks to shatter or explode, hence the FCR we find so commonly in sites. I, myself, have given that speech dozens and dozens of times to students and the public.

This year however, I will turn on the iPad and show them. A pdf of a picture is worth a thousand words, and we have lots of pdfs, including ones showing traditional cooking using heated stones and bentwood boxes. I also included ones on how a bentwood box is made. I am hoping that this technology will make knowledge transfer much easier.

Our inaugural post

Our inaugural post

nice biface

nice biface

2010 crew shot

2010 crew shot

camp life isn't so bad

camp life isn’t so bad

a selection of beach finds

a selection of beach finds

staring at holes in the ground

staring at holes in the ground

recording notes on paper...not this year!

recording notes on paper…not this year!

the shirt says it all ;)

the shirt says it all ;)

screening with great care

screening with great care

contemplating it all

contemplating it all

the crew

the crew

just diggin

just diggin

nicely ochre stained

nicely ochre stained

beautiful biface

beautiful biface

huge ground slate point

huge ground slate point

unilaterally barbed harpoon

unilaterally barbed harpoon

one of many cool things we found

one of many cool things we found

Looking busy

Looking busy

TJM on the banjo

TJM on the banjo

Welcome to the first blog entry for the Shíshálh Archaeological Research Project blog. Over the coming months you can expect tons of great posts about our project and crew. But first a little background, the project is the result of a fantastic collaboration between the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the University of Toronto and the Shíshálh First Nation. It is co-directed by Dr. Terence Clark and Dr. Gary Coupland.

In previous years, we have focused on shoreline site survey, household archaeology, village and camp site excavation, mortuary archaeology, and youth training. This year we will be digging primarily at the site of Trail Bay in the heart of Sechelt, BC. The focus of these excavations will be to shed more light on this important village location and to work closely with the Shíshálh community. Although we have run Aboriginal youth training programs before, this year’s will literally be in the student’s backyards. This should give the rest of the Shíshálh community a chance to see and engage in an archaeological dig.

We will be continuing the “paperless” archaeology approach my colleague Dr. Matthew Betts employed last year in his highly successful E’se’get Archaeology Project in Nova Scotia. You can expect several posts about the trials and tribulations of using iPads in the sun and rain and dirt of a Northwest Coast shell midden. Fingers crossed the technology works as well for us as it did for Matt.
To get a sense of the project here are a few pics from previous years.