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Historical Ecology & Coastal Archaeology

Instructor: Dr. Iain McKechnie

Overview: This lab based archaeology course is a follow up to the UVic Archaeology fieldwork with Tseshaht First Nation and Pacific Rim National Park Reserve in the Broken Group Islands. The course will introduce students to historical ecology from an archaeological perspective. We will visit a series of coastal archaeological sites and examine archaeological and ecological data from an ancient Tseshaht village site (Kakmakimilh). The majority of our time will be spent in the labs at the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre campus which is located in the Treaty lands and traditional territory of Huu-ay-aht First Nations. Our coursework will be research intensive and focus on laboratory analysis of archaeological data previously collected from Tseshaht territory in the Broken Group Islands. Students will attend regular fieldtrips, labs, seminars, and lectures introducing them to Indigenous history and the analytical potential of ecological data obtained from archaeological sites. Assignments will involve, field based mapping, artifact analysis, laboratory techniques, digitization of maps and profiles, and of zooarchaeological analysis (examination of animal remains from archaeological sites). During the last week of the course, students will conduct independent student research project reports. These reports will be edited and presented to Tseshaht First Nations upon completion of the course.

Research Skills: Students will learn some fundamentals of archaeological documentation, including sampling, zooarchaeology, quantitative data analysis, and how to prepare written reports on their findings. We will work cooperatively in groups to develop and address research questions and regularly share our observations with Indigenous representatives who support our course activities.

Boat Use: You will be given the opportunity to operate boats if you choose to do so which is part of a valuable professional skillset in coastal archaeology. Pleasure craft boat certification is required for students who wish to operate boats at BMSC. Students must hold a PCOC and valid first aid certificate and will participate in an introductory boat check-out on the first day of orientation.

Prerequisite: For undergraduate credit, an introductory course in Archaeology or permission of the Instructor. For graduate credit, acceptance in an MA, MSc or PhD program in biology, environmental studies or anthropology (or by permission from the instructor via application).

Physical requirements: Students must be comfortable in boats and with traversing rough, slippery, and forested terrain in all weather. They must also be able to lift, carry, and/or operate equipment weighing up to 20 lbs

Required Text: none required

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This archaeology course will be primarily working with previously excavated material. We may be camping overnight at a remote location for one night but we will not be spending extensive time excavating at a ‘dig’. However, we will be regularly conducting day trip hikes and traveling by boat to conduct field visits throughout the course.

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HECA 2018

Registration Details

University of Victoria:

ANTH 344 –  Archaeological Field Techniques
Credits – 1.5 units
CRN #TBA

University of British Columbia
ARCL 406 – Analytical Techniques in Archaeology
Credits – 3 units
Registered by your department

Simon Fraser University
ARCH 431 – Historical Ecology & Coastal Archaeology
REM 660 – Special Topics in Natural Resources Management
Credits – 3 units
Registered by your department


University of Calgary:

Credits – 3 units
Registered by your department


University of Alberta:
ANTH 343 – Archaeological Field Techniques
Credits – 3 units
You are required to register through UVIC.

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