Thursday, 20 June 2013

June 20 2013 - That's All Folks.

Today was our last day of the field school. For one last time, Bob and all fifteen students gathered in a classroom to celebrate our final day. Students brought in treats and Waves supplied the last vat of coffee for the season.

What is a farewell without treats?

Bob began the morning by speaking about some anthropology courses being offered in the fall and giving some insight in to the subjects. Bob also brought in some prizes for the class, and we all drew names and were able to pick any one item off the gift table.

Wendy, who did a documentary for her project, brought in the finished film and we all watched it's premier. Nadine, the field school photographer, brought in a slide show and we were able to take a look at a portion of the photos she had taken throughout the school's duration.

In the afternoon, we had our last round table discussion, and everyone shared information about their project highlights and memories of the school. To cap off our last day, Bob let us practice our flinknapping skills, and we all got to take a turn in forming something that looks like a sharp edged tool out of a large piece of obsidian.

Anticipating lithic action.

In the final portion of the class, we all marched down to the sportsplex field, and Bob gave us a lesson in how to launch an atlatl. Everyone got the chance to see how far they could they could throw the spear and we were able to recognize quickly people in the group who'd have no trouble hitting a moving mammoth.

To commemorate the end of our field school journey, we all gathered at a pub located near the university. Bob joined us, and rewarded us with our first round of drinks. A perfect end for a perfect field school season.


Thank you to everyone who was involved in this project!  To everyone in Canada, the US, the UK, Russia, Japan, Germany, France, Egypt, Poland, South Korea, Brazil, the Netherlands, Italy, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand thank you for taking the time to visit the blog, having the project reach people all over the world was very exciting.

Monday, 17 June 2013

June 17 2013 - Fast Approaching Finish Line.

Yesterday there was a public event held at the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve. As part of her public education project, Ananda represented the field school and shared some information with the guests. Bob was there as well with his daughter Anna who comes to help out at this event every year.  Stuart, Nadine, Kelsey and Emma dropped by for a bit also, before venturing out in to the woods. The booth was set up with dozens of artifacts, pamphlets, posters and photos of artifacts and features. Ananda had also set up a mock excavation unit for kids to try.

The Archaeology Field School information booth.
Ananda at the artifact station and Anna by the mock excavation unit just prior to the start of the event.
No caption needed.

Over the course of a few hours, there was at least a few hundred people who stopped by to interact at the booth. We were definitely one of the more popular exhibits, however maybe not as popular as the free bouncy castle or the free face painting. There were some people who came to the event specifically to see the artifacts and the rest of the exhibit, based on some other public presentations and a radio interview that Bob recently did. Multiple professional archaeologists self-identified at the exhibit, and multiple school teachers asked if they could bring their classes to the excavations next year.

Ananda and some visitors enjoying the excavation game.

Some booth visitors enjoying some field school photos.

Today was our last full day working in the lab. Over the weekend, students completed their practice site survey forms and handed them in in the morning for feedback.  We also cleaned and cleared the majority of the equipment out of the lab and moved it in to storage.

It seems like only yesterday this equipment was being unpacked.

There were some students who stayed in the lab a  bit later to finish working on their projects. Tiana sat patiently gluing artifacts and Richard finished sorting and weighing level bags.

Friday, 14 June 2013

June 14 2013 - Practice Makes Perfect.

This morning, all students met back at the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve in the rain. The objective for the morning was to practice recording archaeological sites in the field.

Wendy points out compass strings hanging out of Bob's truck

Bob distributed compasses and we set out into the forest. We were told to record one of the early 20th century residential sites we visited early in the field school. This included describing location, access, features, and site boundaries.

.Forest fun and note taking.

Bob noticed a modern plastic plant pot at the site. Bob thinks this was probably for growing marijuana in recently. The area is essentially a cleared area in the forest where there was once a house in the early 1900s. It is hidden from the trails but since it is in a clearing, it would receive lots of sunlight.

Cultural evidence of another variety and a more recent time.

Following our work in the field, we reconvened in the lab on campus to continue working on the site forms, attempting to use our old or newly-found knowledge of how to determine latitude and longitude and UTM using only 1:50,000 scale maps. Fortunately the site we were asked to record is only a few km from the lab so it didn't take long to get from the forest to the lab.

Some students continued working in the lab afterwards on their projects. 

Tiana gluing some artifacts together and our treasured Waves coffee station.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

June 13 2013 - The Joy of Site Inventory Forms.

Today we began with Bob continuing an overview of some archaeology basics. We discussed the various kinds and methods of archaeological survey. We learned that in British Columbia archaeological sites are often discovered by looking for changes in vegetation, looking at cuts in embankments, cultural depressions (holes left from houses, cooking pits, fire pits, and storage pits), and lithic scatters (stone flakes left as waste after making a stone tool). We also covered sampling strategies in archaeological survey; excavating by arbitrary and natural level; and recording provenience by depth below surface and depth below datum.

Natural or arbitrary, that is the question.

Most of the late morning and afternoon was spent on reviewing how to complete archaeological site inventory forms. This included such things as being able to locate sites on map using latitude and longitude (using the map instead of gps) and the UTM method; the importance of being able to describe the location of sites on 1:50,000 scale maps and accurately describing how to access a site; and using contour intervals to determine elevation. We learned how to classify and describe archaeological sites, and the essential things to include on a sketch map of sites (eg. north arrow, bar scale, site boundaries; features).

Northing and Easting is harder than it sounds.

Learning the Borden Number system.

Contours and headaches.

A location somewhere along the 49th parallel.

After the formal part of the day,  some students stayed in the lab, continuing work on their projects. For example,  Richard continued working on the analysis of cultural material in  level bags; Wendy took some more footage for the documentary she is working on; Nathan continued using the internet to try to narrow down the dates of some artifacts;  Erinn continued with bottle classification and Kelsey did some more line drawings; and Caitlin continued working on her study of cultural remains from the area that might be garden.

The class letting it all sink.

Kelsey enjoying some line drawing.

Richard meticulously cleaning the contents of level bags.

Caitlin's hard work.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

June 12 2013 - The First of Many Lab Days.

Today was our first day working in the lab since breaking camp. There happen to be several students in the field school who have not taken anthropology or archaeology classes, so Bob spent the morning giving an overview of world prehistory, before focusing on the last 11,000 yrs in British Columbia.

Bob teaching the class the importance of not disturbing possible archaeological sites.

Bob spoke about the origins of the Hominidae and members of the genus Homo. For North America, he highlighted the significance of some of early artifacts found, such as the atlatl and fluted points. We discussed the oldest undisputed site in B.C, located near Fort St. John, "Charlie Lake Cave", a generalized overview of Indigneous lifeways in BC before 5,000 yrs ago and the kinds of evidence left behind; and the lifeways and archaeological evidence for the past 5,000 years.

 Bob also taught us about the British Columbia Heritage Conservation Act, including the conditions under which archaeological sites are protected and the penalties for disturbing archaeological sites without a permit. We learned how it is mostly government that decides where and how archaeology is done in advance of development projects; the general process of cultural resource managment (also known as commercial archaeology, client-based archaeology, or contract archaeology), and that more than 90 percent of archaeology in BC is in advance of development projects.

We also received copies of blank British Columbia Archaeological Site Inventory forms and the lengthy Guide for completing the forms. We will be reviewing the particulars of the forms and guide tomorrow.

Something to go over before tomorrow's class.

After class some students stayed behind to work on their personal projects. Amanda continued to photograph artifacts, Ananda worked on the Facebook page, Nadine took photographs of the students, Richard sorted and recorded level bags, Nathan searched for dates of artifacts on the internet and Stuart worked on the waste audit.

Wendy making sure everything is in order.

Some artifacts, waiting to be photographed or glued back together.

Kathleen and Nathan checking out what is to be dated next.

Amanda working hard.

Jeneva researching some ceramic information for her project.

A photo of Nadine, taking photos.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

June 11 2013 - Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow.

Today nine students worked on their projects in the lab or at home, and six students came back to break camp.

Last glimpse of the open excavation units.

In the morning, the students on site enjoyed coffee brought in by Richard and some baked goods brought in by Bob,  left over after a meeting at the university yesterday. We got to work at taking apart the shelters and removing the stairs down the steep slope at the entrance to the site we built the first day on-site. Wendy, Cameron, Richard, Stuart, Nadine and Emma began to take apart the large aluminium frames and fold and pack the tarps. We loaded Bob's truck for his first trip back to the University to drop off the equipment at the lab. We finished the morning by doing a full survey of the site and collecting all the coordinate markers and flagging tape.

First step, break down the shelter.

Richard, Stuart, Wendy and Emma organizing shelter storage.

After lunch, Nadine, Wendy, Stuart, Cameron and Emma backfilled the excavation units, while Richard took apart the stairs.  We had to make sure that there was no evidence left behind, and that it would appear no field school had ever been there. We collected sticks and removed the litter mat, filled the pits and then distributed the sifted sediment over top.

  First field day, Richard helps build the stairs. Last field day, Richard removes the stairs.      

In addition to breaking camp and backfilling excavation units, Nadine continued to photodocument surface artifacts and features; and Wendy took more footage of everyone working. In the lab, Tiana worked on cataloguing the newly-discovered artifacts. She cleaned up one of the tobacco tins, assisted by soaking it in Coca Cola for a while, and was able to brush away some rust to see some of the design and writing on the can. It is a "Tucketts" tobacco tin, but more research will be needed before we can get a precise date. Amanda continued taking photographs of artifacts discovered in previous years; Kelsey carried on making line drawings of artifacts discovered this field season; and Erinn and Jenevfa  worked with the collected Japanese bottles and ceramics respectively. Nathan and Kathleen  worked on determining dates of artifacts by using the internet from home.

Almost ready.

No one will ever know.
While the six students were all busy tidying up what was left of the archaeology site, several km deep in the forest (with little sign of wildlife), a black bear was roaming the campus of Capilano University, several km away near the forest's edge. It was spotted near the archaeology lab where the rest of the students were working.

The archaeology assembly line.

No big deal.

Thankfully the rain held off all day, and at the end of the afternoon we filled Bob's truck with the last load of equipment and said our farewell to the site we called home over the last few weeks.

Stuart and Richard packing up the last of the equipment,

Monday, 10 June 2013

June 10 2013 - The Race Against Time.

Today was the last full day of excavation, and for some, the last trip to the site. The sun came out once more, and we all got to work in the morning excited to see what would be the final things to be unearthed.

Kathleen wishing for something other than rocks and roots.

Erinn and Jeneva figuring out their next move.

Bob explained that we would continue to work in the same units, and would be excavating to the sterile level. We also had our last site guest for the term, Bob's daughter, Anna. She had a tour of the site, and then helped Caitlin in her smaller unit for the majority of the day.

Caitlin and Anna sitting pretty in the possible Japanese garden.

The last minute jackpot found by Cameron, Kelsey, Tiana and Nathan.

As we wanted to make the most of our last day on site, Bob let us shovel the last portion of our level in the afternoon. The urgency seemed to work in our favour, and all groups began uncovering some very interesting cultural material. Kelsey, Nathan, Cameron, and Tiana found a square tin box, and cylindrical tin box, a fully intact glass bottle and an old key. Caitlin found a very well preserved ceramic bowl, and all groups continued to find nails, bits of ceramic, shards of metal and pieces of glass.

Cameron  excited with his tin.

The square tin found by Cameron.

Kelsey excited to add another aritfact to the catalogue.

Bob decided that we could open one last unit before we left,located closest to the larger excavation unit. It looked as though it could be some kind of feature, as there seemed to be a large cultural rock formation. Ananda and Emma set up the plot and uncovered some ceramic underneath what appears to be a rock wall or border.

Now all Nathan needs is a treasure map.
The key found by Nathan, pointing north.

The ceramic bowl found by Caitlin, in situ.

By the end of the day students had already begun to fill in their units,  and we all said goodbye to the McKenzie Creek site that we knew and inhabited over the last few weeks.

The first and last unit to be opened on our final day. The rock feature and ceramic pieces in situ.

Emma and Ananda making the last minutes count.