The North Coast Prehistory Project of the National Museum of Canada

Author(s): George MacDonald

Year: 2017


The objective of the North Coast Prehistory Project was to investigate the development of Maritime adapted cultures in the Pacific Northwest and the role of exchange systems in the subsequent development of stratified societies including advanced systems of trade and warfare based on Northeast Asian prototypes. Excavations of the extensive shell middens of the Prince Rupert Harbor yielded evidence of elaborate militarism along with extensive inland trade.

The project worked closely with the oral history experts of the Gitksan/Wetsuwetin Peoples in defining the network of trails that linked the communities of the Nass and Skeena watersheds with the adjacent coast and testing their knowledge archaeologically.

It was never a primary objective of the North Coast Prehistory Project to excavate human remains from the shell middens in the Prince Rupert Harbor. Nevertheless, it was necessary to remove several hundred skeletons that had been buried within the houses excavated.

Studies conducted on the burial materials provided new knowledge on cultural practices, especially warfare, but also on nutrition, periodic resource failures, pathological features. The information on the population that DNA studies provided for the large sample of human burials from sites in the Prince Rupert Harbor continues to provide new insights.

Cite this Record

The North Coast Prehistory Project of the National Museum of Canada. George MacDonald. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430235)


Trade Warfare

Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 15502