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A Journey to a New Land

Post secondary Level Resources

Kilgii Gwaay

The Kilgii Gwaay site is located on Ellen Island in southern Haida Gwaii, off the west coast of British Columbia. At the time of its occupation, about 9,500 years BP, Kilgii Gwaay was situated on the ocean shore. Rising seas flooded the site within about 100 years, creating a waterlogged environment that sealed and preserved the archaeological remains.

Kilgii Gwaay is situated today in the intertidal zone, and this unique setting presented challenging working conditions for the archaeologists who excavated the site. Work could only take place at low tide, and the excavation units had to be pumped full of water at the end of each day in an effort to minimize the damage caused by the incoming tide.

The excellent preservation conditions at this waterlogged site resulted in the survival of a great deal of organic material. These materials included wooden artifacts such as a carved wedge used for splitting planks, and a small piece of 3-strand braided cordage made from spruce root.

Large numbers of animal bones were also preserved at Kilgii Gwaay. These included the bones of more than dozen species of birds including loon, albatross, duck and snow goose, numerous fish species including salmon, herring and rockfish and several species of mammals such as bear, otter and sea lion.

Kilgii Gwaay

Further Reading:

Fedje, Daryl
2003 Ancient Landscapes and Archaeology in Haida Gwaii and Hecate Strait. In Archaeology of Coastal B.C, edited by R. L. Carlson, pp 29 – 38. Archaeology Press, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby.