Depositional Practice and Ancestral Presence at Edye Point

Author(s): Darcy Mathews

Year: 2015


On the southernmost tip of Vancouver Island, between 400–1500 calA.D., the Straits Salish peoples built distinctive funerary petroforms for their ancestral dead. These above ground features, constructed in a patterned array of sizes and shapes, were the material and spatial outcome of ritualized depositional practices. The Edye Point Cemetery, the largest funerary petroform cemetery in the region, has more than 300 of these features concentrated in a three hectare area. There is a recursive and mutually constituting relationship between who and where one is at Edye Point. Point pattern analysis reveals a process in which specific places were selected for certain kinds of funerary petroforms, and a spatial disposition is evident in which smaller types of mostly circular and oval features cluster together at multiple scales, while the largest, mostly straight-sided burials spatially repel one another, and occur outside of these clusters. Triangulating these results with an ethnographic thematic analysis suggests that communities of ritual practice at Edye Point performed simultaneously inclusive and exclusive burial, promoting a sense of communitas while also distinguishing their most powerful dead as liminal actants existing at the threshold of both the communities of the living and the dead.

SAA 2015 abstracts made available in tDAR courtesy of the Society for American Archaeology and Center for Digital Antiquity Collaborative Program to improve digital data in archaeology. If you are the author of this presentation you may upload your paper, poster, presentation, or associated data (up to 3 files/30MB) for free. Please visit for instructions and more information.

Cite this Record

Depositional Practice and Ancestral Presence at Edye Point. Darcy Mathews. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 398317)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

min long: -169.717; min lat: 42.553 ; max long: -122.607; max lat: 71.301 ;