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A Sinixt Pithouse in the Slocan Valley.

Piecing Together the Past: Artifacts from 2,700 Year Old Village

By TC Topp '16  |  Contact Holly Foster 315-859-4068
Posted June 17, 2014
Tags Anthropology Archaeology Nathan Goodale Sciences Student Research

Although many people might not find archaeology as exciting as it’s portrayed in the Indiana Jones franchise, Morgan Biggs ’16 does. Biggs, an archaeology major, is working with Assistant Professor of Archaeology Nathan Goodale to analyze artifacts from the Slocan Narrows Archaeological Project (SNAP). Last summer, Biggs attended Hamilton’s field school, led by Goodale, and excavated artifacts from the Slocan Narrows Pithouse Village in southeastern British Columbia, Canada.

The village, which was occupied 2,700 years ago, is home to one of the largest pit houses in the Pacific Northwest. The SNAP team excavated these pithouses, a type of group dwelling that is partially underground, and found flakes from stone tools. The group recorded the precise location of each flake, postulating as to whether the tools were made on-site or were simply sharpened there.

After gathering artifacts, the team used an x-ray fluorescence spectrometer to determine the elemental composition and origins of the items. This is an important step, as Biggs pointed out, because it can be used to understand migration patterns and trade routes of ancient populations.

This summer, Biggs is working on the Hill, doing lithic analysis of the stone fragments. Meticulously pouring over each flake, Biggs determines precisely how each piece was created. Using Sullivan and Rozen Typology, Biggs then scrutinizes the unique size and shape of the artifact, taking extensive notes to help categorize them. Eventually, Biggs will use her compiled data to write a chapter in the official report to the Canadian government.

Although Biggs had never taken archaeology before coming to Hamilton, she quickly discovered her passion, and natural talent, in the discipline. While she enjoyed working in the field last summer, she is equally pleased with her current position in the lab. Biggs said she would love to do more research in the future, and is planning on continuing her studies at the graduate school level.

Biggs is a graduate of Tulsa School of Arts and Sciences in Tulsa, Okla.

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