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A Tale of Two Villages: Exploring the Role of Villages with Massive Shell Accumulations as Anthropogenic Coastline Modifications in Prince Rupert Harbour

Author(s): Bryn Letham ; Andrew Martindale ; Kisha Supernant ; Kenneth Ames

Year: 2017

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Summary

3D mapping, percussion coring, and radiocarbon dating are used to explore the geoarchaeology and chronology of two villages composed of massive shell deposits in the Prince Rupert Harbour. We map out accumulation and development of these sites through time and demonstrate that they are major anthropogenic coastline modifications, which, with dozens of other large villages in the area, form a substantial built environment. As well as providing well-drained terraformed terraces on which to build houses and conduct village life, these locations buffered against foreshore erosion and relative sea level change, thereby increasing resilience of communities and establishing enduring places that were occupied for millennia. However, radiocarbon analyses of the two villages show that each formed differently. One was occupied nearly continuously for the last 6000 years with expansions and contractions and periods of punctuated shell accumulation, while the other was occupied 2500-1500 BP, was constructed rapidly, and maintained its original occupied area through time. We argue that though we can generate hypotheses about how these constructions functioned to shape the Harbour’s cultures, the two cases’ different chronologies and developmental histories indicate that there are also specific histories behind these mounds’ accumulations, which require other lines of evidence to unpack.


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A Tale of Two Villages: Exploring the Role of Villages with Massive Shell Accumulations as Anthropogenic Coastline Modifications in Prince Rupert Harbour. Bryn Letham, Andrew Martindale, Kisha Supernant, Kenneth Ames. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430238)


Keywords


Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 15594

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America