Wednesday, May 18, 2011

10,000 Year-Old Village Found on British Columbia Coast

Photo courtesy: University of Northern British Columbia

An anthropologist and his students from the University of Northern British Columbia believe they have discovered a 10,000-year-old village on the B.C. coast.

Farid Fahemtulla, a professor at the university, knew he would find clam and mussel shells when he began digging into the forest floor on Calvert Island, but he ended up finding evidence of human life dating back thousands of years.

It is believed to be an ancient village of Luxvbalis, which was told in the oral history of the Heiltsuk First Nations people. Much of the story was lost after a smallpox epidemic in the late 1800s left too few people to tell the story.

"Based on the oral tradition and how old it was, we think this might be that village - but we need to work with the elders of the Heiltsuk nation to conclusively establish this," told Fahemtulla to the Vancouver Sun.

The group found fishing tools including harpoons, bone points, fishing hooks and weights made from deer bone and antler. Similar bone tools have been found at the oldest village discovered in B.C., Namu, which dates back an estimated 10,000 to 11,000 years.

"We won't know for sure until we are able to get some radio carbon dates back," Fahemtulla was quoted in the Globe and Mail.

"We found some stone tools (of a type) which I know were dated at another site between 6,000 and 10,000 years ago. That doesn't give us a positive date . . . but it certainly indicates there is an older component to the site that we didn't get to this year."

Fahemtulla said his team was only able to dig down about 1.5 metres since beginning this spring, but estimates the site is three to four metres deep. This would "suggest a very, very ancient time period."

He also estimates the site spreads over 150 metres, meaning it must have been created by a large number of people.

He told the Globe and Mail, "We were amazed at how big this site really is and we barely touched the surface."

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