Glaciers brought mountain to man, study on B.C. First Nations tools finds

VANCOUVER -- First Nations in British Columbia were once believed to have travelled long distances to find prized volcanic rock for tools, but a new study of an ancient village suggests the mountain actually came to them.

See Full Article

Archeologist Colin Grier has been studying the Gulf Island village site at Dionisio Point on Galiano Island for almost two decades, but it wasn't until his team picked up a few dark stones on the beach that they began questioning the theory of travelling for stones to make tools.

The associate professor at Washington State University's anthropology department said the team tested the beach stones, the debris from stone toolmaking at the site and the volcanic rock from Mount Garibaldi over 100 kilometres away on British Columbia's mainland.

The chemical fingerprint matched.

Grier said the finding dispels the theory that the villagers went all the way to Mount Garibaldi between 600 and 1,500 years ago to get the stone for their tools. Instead, the rock came to their beach thousands of years before.

"It was picked right off the local beach, brought there by glaciers, conveniently, 12,000 years ago," he said.

Grier co-authored the study published in the September issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science.

It said the volcanic rock was difficult to fashion into a tool, but it kept a better edge and required less retouching during use compared with obsidian or chert, a silica rock.

"We conclude the high-quality tool stones were readily available in secondary glacial till deposits at the Dionisio Point locality," the study said.

Grier said the beach stones -- while not the highest quality -- made it much more possible for the villagers to be self-sufficient because the material for tools was easily accessible.

"You could go down to the local corner hardware store rather than having to pick up and pack the canoe up and head off to the Super WalMart on the mainland," he chuckled.

That didn't mean the First Nations did not travel at all. In fact, other studies showed they often trekked to other villages on Vancouver Island and the mainland, Grier said.

There is a lot of evidence that many island villagers went to the Fraser River to fish for salmon during the summer.

"The villages they were living in were likely inhabited through the winter, after they had dried all their salmon and bought it back," Grier said.

The Dionisio Point village, part of a protected provincial park and only accessible by boat, is considered one of the best preserved village sites on the entire B.C. coast.

"It's an amazing element of the archeological record of British Columbia and Canada, and really, of the world," said Grier, a Canadian who lives on Galiano when he's not working in Washington state.

The Gulf Islands sit right along the Canada-U.S. border between Vancouver Island and B.C.'s mainland.

Grier said the islands are a treasure trove of archeological sites with new discoveries taking place all the time, giving more hints about what ancient Coast Salish life was like hundreds of years ago.



Advertisements

Latest Tech & Science News

  • More than 40 U.S. attorneys general urge Facebook to stop plans for an Instagram for kids

    Tech & Science CTV News
    Facebook's plans to launch a version of Instagram for children under the age of 13 continues to get backlash. On Monday, 44 U.S. attorneys general signed a letter addressed to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, urging him to scrap plans for an Instagram intended for younger users, citing mental health and privacy concerns. Source
  • New White House panel aims to separate science, politics

    Tech & Science CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- Eager to the turn the page on the Trump years, the Biden White House is launching an effort to unearth past problems with the politicization of science within government and to tighten scientific integrity rules for the future. Source
  • China defends handling of rocket that fell to Earth

    Tech & Science CTV News
    BEIJING -- China's government defended its handling of a rocket booster that burned up over the Indian Ocean and said Monday it was unfairly being held to different standards than the U.S. and other space programs. Source
  • This machine can help turn used PPE into almost anything

    Tech & Science CTV News
    TORONTO -- Over a year into the global COVID-19 pandemic and the scale of waste from single-use personal protective equipment (PPE) is slowly being tallied as masks, gloves and face shields fill bodies of water and landfills. Source
  • 'Earth's power': Iceland volcano's lava geysers thrill visitors

    Tech & Science CTV News
    Iceland's Fagradalshraun volcano lies quiet for a spell before suddenly spewing red molten lava geysers high into the air, visible from the capital Reykjavik in an awe-inspiring display. The volcano, which sprang into life in mid-March in the Geldingadalir valley near Mount Fagradalsfjall, has drawn visitors from around the world, many venturing as close as possible to the safety perimeter set up to protect against sprays of red-hot rock. Source
  • U.S. researchers create sci-fi-style laser holograms that can move in the air

    Tech & Science CTV News
    TORONTO -- Researchers at Brigham Young University (BYU) in Utah have figured out how to use lasers to create sci-fi-style holograms. The holograms closely resemble and are inspired by laser displays seen in science fiction, such as the holodeck and phasers in “Star Trek” and lightsabers in “Star Wars. Source
  • DNA used to identify sailor of doomed 1845 Franklin arctic expedition

    Tech & Science CTV News
    TORONTO -- A sailor of the doomed 1845 Franklin arctic expedition was identified using DNA from a living relative in South Africa, marking the first time a crew member of that infamous voyage has been positively identified this way. Source
  • Electric school buses hit the road in B.C.

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Two of B.C.'s first electric school buses hit the road this week in the Sooke school district on Vancouver Island. School District 62 is one of 13 districts that have acquired electric buses with the help of B.C. Source
  • Parks Canada caribou captive breeding proposal gets OK from review panel

    Tech & Science CBC News
    A last-ditch attempt to save some of Canada's vanishing caribou herds is a step closer after a scientific review panel's approval of a plan to permanently pen some animals and breed them to repopulate other herds. Source
  • Scientists seek to understand increase in grey whale deaths on West Coast

    Tech & Science CBC News
    The recent sighting of an emaciated grey whale off Vancouver Island and the discovery of a dead whale washed up on a B.C. beach highlights concerns that the marine mammals are dying in increasing numbers. Angela Menzies was beachcombing with her son on northern Vancouver Island in April when they spied something on the beach that looked like a huge tree trunk, but with a fin. Source