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A Journey to a New Land

Multimedia Library

Daryl Fedje

Geoarchaeologist, Parks Canada

Richardson Island – Finding the Site

The work that we did at the Richardson Island archaeological site was done primarily in the mid-1990’s up until about 2000 – 2001. The site was originally discovered by a survey crew of Haida and professional archaeologists who were doing a major survey inventory of the new protected area that is Gwaii Haanas. nitially they were working along the beach and found a number of stone tools on the surface of the beach and assumed it was an old washed-out archaeological site with just a few stone tools left behind. But eventually, we spent more and more time at the site, mapping it and getting a better handle on what was going on. One of the things I found was that there were a few artifacts being washed down a little creek – just a small little gully at the back of the site, and I followed this little trail of artifacts (sort of a Hansel and Gretel type thing) up the hill until I got to a point about 15 or 16 meters above sea level, where there was a nice gravel face. In that gravel face there were a number of artifacts still in their original positions in the gravels, as well as charcoal and old soil layers. And from that we were able to find out that this was the original source for the artifacts that were found on the beach. It turned out to be a very deeply layered archaeological site with over 5 meters of cultural layers, a nice layer-cake separation of the different sediment units. Within these there were tens of thousand of artifacts, many, many features, archaeological features such as campfires and places where people lived, the postholes and things like that from dwellings or shelters or whatever.