News / Events

Paleoethnobotany of Kilgii Gwaay: a 10,700 year old Ancestral Haida Archaeological Wet Site Jenny Cohen




In association with the Anthropology Department of UVic



Tuesday, September 16, 2014,

 7:30 pm

Cornett Building B129

(North End of Cornett building)

University of Victoria 

Paleoethnobotany of Kilgii Gwaay: a 10,700 year old Ancestral Haida Archaeological Wet Site

Jenny Cohen

Abstract: Kilgii Gwaay is an intertidal archaeological site, located in southern Haida Gwaii, British Columbia. Worked wood artifacts revealed the site’s significance as one of the earliest known examples of preserved plant usage on the Northwest Coast. Further excavations and analyses as part of my thesis research have added considerably to the known plant technologies and local paleoecology. Anatomical and morphological analyses of waterlogged material indicate the use of several species by ancestral Haida, including Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis), Western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla), alder (Alnus sp.), salmonberry (Rubus spectabilis), and red elderberry (Sambucus racemosa). These preliminary findings are consistent with local resource use and demonstrate the occurrence of technological practices, such as root- and wood-splitting, millennia before the widespread advent of western redcedar (Thuja plicata) in the region.

Bio: Jenny Cohen is finishing her Masters at the University of Victoria under the supervision of Dr. Quentin Mackie. She has been with Parks Canada and UVic on various Northwest Coast archaeological research projects since 2009. She also does artifact illustration and has worked in consulting archaeology. Her main interest areas are paleoethnobotany and environmental archaeology of early Holocene coastal sites. She incorporates previous training in horticulture, herbalism and fine arts into her research.

For information, phone 384-6059



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Memorial for Gerry Merner

Announcing a Memorial Celebration for Gerry Merner May 10, 2014, 3 to 6 pm

Shortly before he died Gerry decided he didn’t want a formal funeral. He wanted his memorial to be an informal party in a light-filled place, and he specifically wanted all his friends from the ASBC to be there. His wife Margaret sent the following invitation, saying “Please encourage members of the Arch. Society to join us.” See you there.

– Pete Dady and the executive of the Victoria ASBC.

Message from Margaret Merner: “Hello all, I’m writing at this time to let you know about the Memorial Celebration for Gerald, who as you know passed suddenly on April 2nd. The Celebration will be held at the Spencer Castle heritage building, on the grounds of Spencer Castle residences – 2906 Cook Street, May 10, 3 to 6 pm. For map, click on this link.  Although accessed from Cook St there is limited parking on the grounds, and attendees are encouraged to park on The Rise, Arthur Ave or Summit Ave behind Smith’s Hill Reservoir. Car-pooling is encouraged. Come celebrate Gerald’s life and share memories with friends and family. And please forward this invitation to anyone you think might like to attend.”

Michelle Puckett – Clam Gardens on Quadra Island, BC.

Upcoming Talk – Tuesday, May 20, 2014.  7:30 pm, at Cornett Building, Room B129, UVic (see map below)

Transforming the Beach, Transforming our Thinking: Ancient Clam Gardens of Northern Quadra Island, BC. A talk by Michelle Puckett

The indigenous people of the Northwest Coast practised a variety of resource and environmental management strategies to maintain and enhance foods, and other valued resources. This paper focuses on one form of ancient marine management, locally known as “clam gardens”. Continue reading Michelle Puckett – Clam Gardens on Quadra Island, BC.

Hein Bjerk – Post-Glacial Colonization of Scandinavia

Hein B. Bjerck, Professor in Archaeology at Norwegian University of Science and Technology will be giving a lecture “The Colonization of Scandinavian Seascapes in the Pleistocene/Holocene Transition”.


An exciting and important subject for study here on the Northwest Coast is how and when the “first” people arrived, particularly at the end of the last Ice Age.  In order to understand this, it is necessary to understand the local sea-level histories and paleo-environments.  Continue reading Hein Bjerk – Post-Glacial Colonization of Scandinavia

Andreas Fuls – A short history of Mayan astronomy

Tuesday, March 18th, 7:30 p.m., at the University of Victoria, next ASBC talk:

A short history of Mayan astronomy: The Mayan calendar and the collapse of the Classic Mayan culture by Dr. Andreas Fuls, Berlin Institute of Technology, Germany

The Classic Mayan developed a sophisticated calendar and observed the Sun, Moon, planets and stars. Precise astronomical data allow correlation of the Mayan calendar to the Christian calendar. A new chronology is proposed and verified by different dating methods and data, which also results in a discussion of the so-called “Mayan collapse”. Continue reading Andreas Fuls – A short history of Mayan astronomy

They didn’t do it just for the Halibut: A faunal analysis of the Hiikwis site complex (DfSh-15 & DfSh-16), Barkley Sound.

Presented by Nicole Westre.


The Hiikwis site complex (DfSh-15 and DfSh-16) consists of two village sites in inner Barkley Sound, occupied continuously for nearly 3000 years until the 1900s. Excavated between 2008 and 2010, the site complex has gained attention as the only Barkley Sound village site to contain a significant flaked stone assemblage in late contexts. My talk, however, focuses on sampled vertebrate faunal remains recovered from the site, which are unique among Barkley Sound sites as well. The bird and whale assemblages will be discussed, as will salmon exploitation. In general, Barkley Sound sites suggest that salmon did not become an important resource in the area until only about 800 years ago. This observation challenges the idea that complex Northwest Coast societies emerged as a result of salmon preservation for winter consumption as long as 3500 years ago. Does the Hiikwis site complex follow the typical Barkley Sound pattern, or do the bones tell a different story?

Nicole is currently completing a Master’s degree in Anthropology at the University of Victoria, focusing on faunal analysis. She received her BA in Anthropology from Vancouver Island University in 2010. She volunteers weekly in the Royal BC Museum’s comparative faunal collection and has conducted field work in Barkley Sound, Nanoose Bay, and on the island of Menorca, Spain.

January 21, 2014 new talk “A Trail of Empties” by Tom Bown, at our new location at UVic

In association with the Anthropology Department of UVic

Tuesday, January 21, 2014, 7:30 pm
Cornett Building B129, University of Victoria

A Trail of Empties

A talk by Tom Bown

Global expansion from the 17th century on could likely be studied just by the trail of bottles left behind. Fortunately glass preserves well and, based on the style and method of manufacture, can offer some very precise dating tools. In an archeological context glass fragments are often the first indication of contact or trade with the outside world. They can also offer information about a site and the people who lived there. During the talk I will offer an overview of how to identify and date glass bottles along with some “hands on” examples.

Feel free to bring examples of your own.

Tom is a graduate of the University of Victoria. He spent about three years with the Royal BC Museum archaeology division prior to starting a career with the Canadian Forest Service. His latest project with the CFS was to develop a searchable database of long-term and historic research sites for Canada. He has maintained a close association with archaeology and most recently worked with a Bermuda marine archeologist to document the glass bottles used by the Royal Navy. A publication on that project is in

For information, phone 384-6059