Archaeology and Plants

COURSE

Course description

Plants are fundamental to the food systems, and technologies, used by First Nations in BC in archaeological contexts. Perishable technology is often overlooked when analyzing archaeological data. Perishable technology includes things like animal hair weaving and spinning, or leather items, but also includes many plant-based items, like wooden arrows, wooden house structures, cedar clothing, wooden handles and so on. One reason for this is that plant artifacts often break down very quickly in damp environments, such as on the west coast of North America. This makes wet site archaeological sites, where items such as baskets have been preserved perfectly, even more remarkable. In this session, we will explore how plant-derived items, as well as living plants themselves (growing at archaeological sites) provide archaeological evidence of past human lifeways on the landscape.

This session will also include an intro to identifying a few of the important species used on the west coast which are significant indicators of past activities on the landscape. We will look at the shaping and creation of landscapes by humans as well as questions such as why plant technologies are often overlooked in archaeological investigations, and how this can be compensated for when analyzing data.

Photo credit: Aurora Skala 

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