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Historical Ecology & Coastal Archaeology

Overview: This course will introduce students to historical ecology from an archaeological perspective. We will visit a series of coastal archaeological sites in Nuu-chah-nulth territory in Barkley Sound and examine archaeological and ecological data from these sites in the lab. The majority of our time will be spent at the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre campus in the Treaty lands and traditional territory of the Huu-ay-aht First Nations. Our coursework will be research intensive and focus on archaeological data previously collected from various sites in Barkley Sound including the Broken Group islands in the traditional territory of the neighboring Tseshaht First Nation. 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 reading annotations, 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 the Huu-ay-aht, Tseshaht First Nations, the Bamfield Marine Science Centre as well as (BC Archaeology Branch and Parks Canada) 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 community members.

Boat Use: You will be given the opportunity to drive boats if you choose to do so. Boat driving is recommended but not required for Historical Ecology and Coastal Archaeology. Students who wish to drive boats at BMSC 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 or anthropology or by 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: McMillan, Alan D. and Iain McKechnie (editors) 2015 These Outer Shores: Archaeological Insights into Indigenous Lifeways along the Exposed Coasts of British Columbia. BC Studies: The British Columbian Quarterly, Special Issue Number 187.
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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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