UNBC Students Participate in Rare Archaeological Dig in North-Central BC

July 10, 2007
For the first time since the 1970s, a university-led archaeological dig has been conducted at a historically significant site in the North Central Interior. Over the past several weeks, 23 UNBC anthropology students have participated in an archaeological field school at a site west of Prince George near the confluence of the Chilako and Nechako Rivers. More than 100 stone artifacts were discovered following the excavation of several square units, in two archaeological sites.

“We worked with the Lheidli T’enneh and Nazko First Nations to select this site, which was originally identified by archaeologists a few years ago as part of an impact assessment for a forest cut block,” says Dr. Farid Rahemtulla, an Anthropology professor at UNBC and the field school director. “We recovered a number of stone tools, items used for hunting, and some remnants of stones that were likely sourced from hundreds of kilometres away. Beyond that, we don’t know much yet. Unlike the Coast and Southern Interior of BC, the Northern Interior remains virtually unknown to archaeologists. For UNBC, this represents the start of a long-term project to explore the history of this region together with First Nations communities.”

In addition to exploring the history of the region, the field school is part of UNBC coursework designed to provide training in archaeological methods. It is the largest university archaeology field school operating in BC this summer.

“We don’t know exactly how old the artifacts are that we found, but likely more than 400 years old and possibly much older,” says Dr. Rahemtulla, who has conducted archaeology work in Africa, along the BC Coast and the southern Interior of the province. “There is strong evidence to suggest that First Nations have been in this area for at least 10,000 years and there are a number of potential archaeological sites around central BC that could provide clues about their lives.”

The field school wraps up on Thursday. It’s expected that the artifacts recovered during the excavation will be displayed in the Anthropology Teaching Lab within the coming weeks. The last major archaeological dig in north central BC took place at Punchaw Lake and was led by Simon Fraser University in 1975.

Broadcast-quality video footage is available.

Farid Rahemtulla, Anthropology professor, UNBC – 250.960.6691
Rob van Adrichem, Director of Media and Public Relations, UNBC – 250.960.5622 
 Media Downloads
Click on a thumbnail below to download a high-resolution file.
Ryan Unruh (left) and Adam Kantakis excavate a one-metre-square unit at the archaeological site.
Candice Crosby screens dirt for artifacts.
Kelli Watson takes notes from the excavation of four connected units.
Kelli Watson
Student Patrick Daley (left) examines an artifact found on site with professor Farid Rahemtulla.

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