THE WHALEN FARM SITE By: Brian Thom, May 1997 [this is being published in an upcoming volume edited by R.G. Matson (UBC)]
The Whalen Farm site (DfRs 3) was excavated by Charles Borden and crew in the summers of 1949 and 1950. The Whalen Farm site has been an important enigma in the literature of Northwest Coast archaeology. Borden proposed the ill-fated "Whalen II phase" based on the results of his excavations there, results which have remained largely unpublished (see Thom 1992a). This chapter reports the excavations at Whalen Farm, and provides a new interpretation of the data collected there. I hope that the information collected from the Whalen Farm site can be usefully incorporated in future interpretations of Lower Fraser Delta prehistory, and will provide a model for further research in analyzing other old archaeological collections.
SITE LOCATION AND ENVIRONMENT
The Whalen Farm site is located on the eastern shore of the Point Roberts peninsula in the southern reaches of the Lower Fraser Delta area of British Columbia. It extends from the base of the Roberts Uplands in the south, across the international border into the low lying area of Boundary Bay, British Columbia. The eastern part of the site is about 75 meters from the high tide mark of the waters of Boundary Bay. The western extent of the site is about 500 meters from that shore. The site runs almost due north and south for about 300 meters north of the border and 500 meters south. This large site is one of a large number of areas of the Point Roberts peninsula which contains archaeological deposits (see Figure 1).
Two midden ridges can currently be distinguished at the site. These ridges range in size from very low mounds, just a fraction of a meter above the surface to large knolls, which rise two to three meters above the ground. These midden ridges essentially follow the contour of Boundary Bay, running roughly parallel to the shore (see Figure 2). Apart from these ridges, there is midden deposit underlying most of the community of Maple Beach, Washington, and the southern portion of the community of Boundary Bay, British Columbia (as shown in Figures 1). The site has largely been heavily damaged since urban development got under way in the area 1956. When Borden excavated the site in 1949-50, impacts to the site were largely limited to agricultural activity, being a pasture of Mike Whalen's farm.
The geomorphological history of the Point Roberts area has been extensively reviewed by Arcas Consulting Ltd. for their report on the Beach Grove site (Arcas 1996:117-142). To summarize, the Whalen Farm site is located on part of the lower deltaic flood plain. The flat is made up primarily of tidal sands and silts which built up around the base of what was then Roberts Island between 10,000 and 5,000 years ago (Williams and Roberts 1989:1659). Between 5,000 and 6,000 years ago the low-lying eastern portion of Roberts Island was completely developed, but the Island would still have been separated from the mainland by a tidal channel. This channel filled in between 4,500 and 5,000 years ago (Arcas 1996:141).
The paeleoecology of the Point Roberts area has also been given exhaustive treatment by Arcas Consulting Ltd. for their report on the Beach Grove (Arcas 1996:14-16, 24-39) site and by Ham in his Ph.D. dissertation on the Crescent Beach site (Ham 1982:22). Before urban development, this was an ecologically diverse area, with plant communities containing Mixed Conifer Forests (Douglas fir, grand fir, western red cedar dominating), Mixed Woodlands (dominated by cottonwood), and Grassy Prairies. These plant communities provided a rich and diverse habitat for land and sea mammals (Arcas 1996:15-16). Notable among the land mammals are raccoons, mustelids, striped skunk, marten, fisher, mink, mule deer, elk, black bear, wolf, cougar, wolverine, beaver, and wapiti. Significant sea mammals include Northern Fur seal, sea otter, and harbour seals. Boundary Bay is part of a major route of the salmon which run to the Fraser River. Other fish, including ratfish, rockfish, sculpins, lingcod, mackerel, halibut can be found in the Bay, while herring, sardines, smelts, surfperch, flounders, skates and sturgeon populate the sandy bottom of Roberts Bank. The inter-tidal area support a wide range of bivalves, including butter clams, littleneck clam, bentnose clam and basket cockle. Crabs, mussels and marine snails are also found in these areas. Numerous waterfowls make use of the wetland in the Point Roberts area.
Northern Straits Salish and Mainland Halkomelem (particularly Tsawwassen First Nation) ethnography has been treated in detail by Suttles (1951, 1987, 1990) for the former, and by Bouchard and Kennedy (1991) for the latter. Particularly relevant to understanding how this site may have been used in the past is the importance of the Boundary Bay area for reef-netting by Northern Straits Salish people (Suttles 1951:202). Boat captains from many different Northern Straits Salish villages owned named locations along Roberts Bank and Boundary Bay, which allowed them to take advantage of the major runs of salmon passing through the calm, clear waters. Suttles reports that in the early to mid-1800's camps were set along the south and eastern shore of Point Roberts and that "in July and August it was seething with activity" (Suttles 1951:204). An important historical reef-netting camp was located three kilometers to the south of Whalen Farm at Cannery Point, until the mid-1850's when it was dismantled by an American squatter who built a house and farm at that village site (Clark 1980). All of Point Roberts was an American military reserve from the 1850s to 1905. It seems likely that the Whalen Farm site may have been occupied as a reef net fishing camp, but there are no specific ethnographic records available on this point. The lack of information in the ethnographic and ethnohistorical record is likely due to over a century of alienation from the resources in the area. P.J. Whalen (Mike Whalen's father) was a squatter on the site since 1891 (Clark 1980:111). American fish trappers and canneries set up their own permanent traps throughout Boundary Bay between 1892 and 1934 preventing Northern Straits Salish reef-netters from using their traditional fisheries, until the middle of this century, when the Aboriginal fishery was returned (Clark 1980:79-88, 117; Suttles 1951:152).
There have been several archaeological investigations of the Whalen Farm site over the past 100 years. In this section, I briefly summarize the results of each investigation, with a emphasis of the field work conducted by Borden in 1949-50. In Figure 2, I have estimated the approximate location of the 1949-50 excavations by the barn which was mapped by Borden and which is still present today. This figure shows the location of the subsequent excavations which were undertaken by Seymour (1976) and Hammon (1985, 1986).
Harlan I. Smith
The first archaeological investigations at the Whalen Farm site were done by Harlan I. Smith, under the auspices of the Jesup North Pacific Expedition. Smith's description of the site are rich but scattered: a large scale map of the area shows there to be shell heaps and cairns on the east bank of Point Roberts (Smith and Fowke 1901:facing 56); his 1903 report briefly mentions that shell-heaps are found "at various places on the peninsula between the bottom-lands and Point Roberts" (Smith 1903:140); his 1907 report describing the site as (Smith 1907:363):
A shell-heap in the form of a ridge extends from a point on the United States side of the line, at the present southeastern shore of Point Roberts, along the eastern shore of the point for about a mile to the northward, and ends on Canadian soil. About half a mile from its beginning at the beach, were it fills the space to the bluff, it turns back westward from the present shore line, and at its northern end it a comparatively long distance from the sea. Branching from the rear of this, and running parallel with it, is another shell-heap, probably an older one. The northern ends of these swing out in a line following the general trend of the beach, and some distance in front of the bluff.
In a later report made during his 1925 visit to Point Roberts under the auspices of the Victoria Memorial Museum (now the Canadian Museum of Civilization), he described "a row of several very large and deep pits, parallel to the beach, [which are] apparently house sites" (Smith 1925:315). In his field notes, he sketched out the location of these, which I have reproduced in Figure 3.
Smith recovered several artifacts in his visits, including an unfinished net-sinker, the striking end of a handmaul, two abrasive stones, two formed abrasive stones, and an unidentified "cylindrical object made of light stone of a grey color...[with] somewhat irregular ends and...slightly larger at the top than at the bottom" (Smith 1907:364), and a pair of antler clam digging sticks (Smith 1925).
Smith investigated several burial cairns which me measured as being pits "from five feet to fifteen feet in diameter by from three to five feet deep" located in the southern portion of the shell-heaps and covered or surrounded by boulders (Smith and Fowke 1901:61, 57). The skeletons in the cairns were disarranged and surrounded by about two feet of "vegetable mould" in the bottom of the pits, and traces of wood above. This suggested to him that there may have been some kind of burial box associated with the cairn (Smith and Fowke 1901:61). No absolute dates to suggest the age of the deposits have been obtained from any of Smith's collections.
On Monday, June 20, 1949 C.E. Borden recorded in his field notes (Borden 1949), the arrival of him and his crew arrived at the Whalen Farm site. Crew members Jimmy Hirabayashi, George Cheney, Rodger Heglar, Wilson Duff and Phil Gladstein unpacked the equipment and began surveying the site. Surveying was done by Wednesday and excavations began. The crew was joined latter in the summer by Joan Presant. The 1950 field crew consisted of Alan Bryan, Douglas Leechman, and Bill Drinkwater.
The trench was laid out in 5' x 5' units which cross-cut the midden ridge. The horizontal datum point was established from a fence post (indicated in Figure 4). There were 12 units west of this datum line and 7 units east. These units are indicated in the Borden's field notes and catalogue as I1W, I2W, etc..., the 'I' meaning trench I, the number being how many 5' intervals from the horizontal datum, and the 'W' (or 'E') meaning west (or east) of the horizontal datum. The vertical datum ('R1' in Borden's field notes and catalogue) was established as the highest point on the midden ridge. Levels 'R2' and 'R3' followed at 48" intervals from the top point ('R1').
The crew excavated mainly with pointed mason trowels, grapefruit knives, spoons, and dentist's tools. Three dimensional provenience was taken from the datum points when an artifact was found in-situ. The provenience was estimated when the artifact was found in the 1/4" screens that were used to sift all the midden.
Associated materials was collected and bagged in what Borden called "assmat" bags. Ideally, provenience information (horizontal, vertical and description of layer), a description of what was in the bag, the date the bag was filled and any associated photo-record number was to be placed on the bag. Unfortunately, this did not happen all of the time. In fact, only about 25% of the assmat material has useful provenience information on the bag, or available in the field notes. I screened the contents of the assmat bags through 1/8" mesh and recovered an additional 29 additional artifacts with good provenience. The midden in these assmat bags was sampled on a judgmental basis, scooping about one dust-pan full of midden was taken for each natural layer encountered.
Natural levels of the stratigraphy in the midden were not followed while digging, but were meticulously noted later in the site profiles. The west half of the north-facing site profile is given in Figure 5. An enlarged portion of this profile is given in Figure 6. A description of the natural layer from which the artifact came is usually given on the catalogue sheet, similar to the description of each natural layer noted on the site profile.
The original site profile has marked on it, in blue pencil crayon, a line which distinguishes the Whalen I and Whalen II components. The two components of the site were distinguished by a difference in the constituents of the layers. The top component (designated Whalen II) is distinguished by a general pattern of thick layers of large shell-fish, such as horse-clams (Tresus nuttallii) and butter-clams (Saxidomus giganteus), and some bay mussels (Mytilus edulis). The lower component (designated Whalen I) contained far more bay mussels (Mytilus edulis), with a few instances of basket cockles (Clinocarduim corbis). The lower component of the midden ridge was excavated to the sterile beach sand, which was 12 feet below the top of the midden (R1).
On the original profiles in the laboratory, the estimated position of every catalogued artifact is placed on the profile. This was done after the 1950 field season, but is accurate enough to reconstruct which artifacts came from which component of the site. The information that was associated with each artifact, including an illustration, was recorded on a standard catalogue form, each artifact receiving one page of detailed description. Borden observed differences in the artifact assemblage corresponding with the differences in midden constituents, and thus assigned the Whalen I and II components as early and late occupations of the site.
Borden did not tabulate the artifacts from his excavations at Whalen Farm. However, the artifact catalogue and objects are held by the U.B.C. Laboratory of Archaeology and were available for analysis. My tabulation of these artifacts, based on the classification scheme developed by Pratt (1991) is given in Table 1.
Several features were also recorded in Borden's field notes and catalogue. The features include fire hearths, post molds and burials. The fire hearths "clusters of small cracked & crackled cooling stones" (Borden 1949:17) were found in virtually every layer. Several of these were noted and recorded, but it seems that only concentrations of stones were recorded. Five of these dense clusters of cooking stones were singled out in his field notes, occurring in both components of the site. The post mold features were somewhat more systematically documented. Eleven post molds were mentioned in the field notes, and recorded with some provenience. The post holes range between 3" and 8" in diameter and do not form any clear structural pattern.
Thirteen burials were recovered by Borden during his two seasons at Whalen Farm. These burials are summarized in Table 2. The burials are all interments in shallow pits, one of which (#4) being associated with a single large boulder. All of the 10 burials attributed to the Whalen II component were buried in a flexed or semi-flexed position, and six of them were on their right side, facing east. Two burials were too disturbed to be certain of any alignment, and the last one was partially burned, and faced northwest. Four of these (all ones following the normal pattern) contained grave goods. The three burials in the Whalen I component were also in a flexed or semi-flexed position, but faced west with their head either north or south. In 1958, Rodger Heglen (one of Borden's original Whalen Farm field school students) completed a brief study of these remains (Heglen 1958). In this report he summarized the distribution of age and sex of the burials. He also took cranial and long bone measurements and indices, and discussed pathologies detected in the bones (two cases of arthritis deformans several cases of periapical tooth abscesses), but made no conclusions from this small sample.
Faunal remains were collected at the site, and stored in assmat bags, however, Borden did not tabulate or analyze these remains. In 1962, R. Drake went through all of this material identifying each species to make "hypo-types" for the Laboratory of Archaeology. Unfortunately, in the process of his study, all of the provenience information was lost. It is also not known if all of the faunal material was kept, or if some was discarded. Of the samples that were collected and kept, there is not any sort of representative sample of the material taken from the site. For these reasons, a quantitative faunal analysis has not been conducted here.
Charcoal samples are plentiful, but often had poor proveniance information recorded for them. In 1952, Borden was asked by Dr. Sphinx of the then new University of Saskatchewan Radiocarbon Lab, to submit any archaeological charcoal samples he would like dates on. Borden took this opportunity to get free absolute dates from several of his sites, including both components of the Whalen Farm site (see Table 3). McCallum and Dyck (1960:77) report the date from the Whalen I component (sample # S-18) at 2450 ± 160 BP. This sample was collected in 1949 at a depth of 10 to 12 feet. The second sample from this site was taken from mid-way through the Whalen II component. The date for this sample (# S-19) was reported as 1580 ± 140 BP (McCallum and Dyck 1960:77). These first dates greatly pushed back the expected age of occupation of the area, previously thought to be somewhat older than 200 years (Borden 1950a). However, the solid carbon method used to date the charcoal samples, which is not as precise as modern radiocarbon techniques.
I have taken a 5.28 gram charcoal sample from the lower layers of the Whalen II component (Trench I, Square 3E, 36"-50" below datum level R1), and submitted it for dating at the Washington State University Radiocarbon Dating Laboratory. The sample had been in an assmat bag since it was originally taken on June 26, 1949, but did not seem to be contaminated in any way. The results of this dating came out to be 2110 ± 65 years B.P. (lab sample # WSU-4340), indicating this to be the maximum age range for the Whalen II component (see Table 3).
During a casual visit to the site in 1955, Wilson Duff discovered that a large portion of the midden was being removed by bulldozer to make way for a new sub division. He found some skeletal remains exposed by the bulldozer and promptly excavated them. Duff found an "adult male, lying on its right site, facing east, with arms and legs fully flexed. The head, however, was twisted upright rather than on its side. The horizontal shell strata were unbroken a few inches above the skeleton" (Duff 1956:67). With the burial he found a number of grave goods, including a "sculptured antler haft with a beaver-tooth cutting blade in place...another beaver tooth...and a chipped stone knife in a decorated antler haft". A "fragment of a similar stone blade...and a portion of an antler haft similar to the one holding the beaver tooth" were found not far away. He associates this burial with the Whalen II component, as it was found in the upper half of the midden, and was buried in a similar manner to many of the other Whalen II component burials.
In 1972, the Department of Archaeology at S.F.U. received a phone call from a resident of Maple Beach informing them of his plans to bulldoze one of the few remaining intact portions of the large Whalen Farm midden. Brian Seymour and a volunteer crew went to the deposit which was to be destroyed and undertook salvage excavations (Seymour 1976). Two 2x2 meter pits were laid out and eventually extended with two 1x2 meters on the west side (see Figure 2). An additional 1x1 meter test-pit was opened to the southwest of the main pits. The 1x1 test pit was largely disturbed and only excavated to 70 cm. The two other pits were excavated to 4.3 meters below the surface level. The layers from the main pits that were excavated, were all taken to be from the same component.
The artifacts found at this site are summarized on Table 4. Seymour's excavations of this component from the Whalen site was considered to be a Marpole component, given the types of artifacts present. No radiocarbon sample was submitted. Faunal remains were systematically collected. The most numerous bivalves were cockle (Clinocardium nuttallii), butter clam (Saxidomus giganteus), horse clam (Tresus nuttallii) and bay mussel (Mytilus edulis). The fish remains were not identified or quantified. There were 427 bird-bones found, but none were identified. Other faunal remains were quantified by counting the number of bones present. 82.5% of the bones were dog, 8.8% deer, 5.6% elk, 0.6% harbour seal, 0.6% porpoise, 1.3% unidentified sea-mammal and 0.6% marten (Seymour 1976:85-87). Because of the very small sample size, no inferences were made about the faunal sample.
Burial remains from three individuals were found. The one complete burial was identified as a male from age 12-14 years. It was "tightly flexed, lying on its back with legs leaning toward the west. The vertebral column was aligned in a north/south manner with the head to the south" (Seymour 1976:87). Three large rocks covered the burial from head to the base of the vertebra, and five other boulders were found 10 cm above the burial, forming a cairn. This feature is reminiscent of the ones earlier described by Smith (Smith and Fowke 1901). The other two remains were scattered. One set of remains was identified as being from an adult male, the other completely unidentifiable.
The most recent excavations which have taken place on the Canadian portion of the Whalen Farm site (DgRs 14) were undertaken by the Delta Museum, under the direction of Dimity Hammon (Hammon 1985, 1896). Hammon excavated in two 2x2 meter blocks, surrounded by a slit trench (see Figure 2). She began by excavating in natural layers, but found that too much vertical control was being lost, so switched to 5 cm arbitrary levels. The excavations showed only one distinct component. The artifacts recovered from Hammon's excavations are summarized on Table 4.
Seven features were noted through-out the site, and were described as "activity area, primarily for food processing" (Hammon 1986:4). Five of these features were hearths or cooking stone piles, and largely consisted of fire-cracked rock, charcoal, and crushed mollusc shells. One feature was speculated as being a steaming or storage pit (Hammon 1985:48). The other was "a large pit dug into the sand", and interpreted as a "shellfish processing centre" (Hammon 1985:50).
Ten burials were described in the 1985 report, only two of which were complete burials. The first complete burial was identified as an adult male. It was fully flexed, facing east or northeast, containing no grave goods. The second burial was identified as an infant found very near the top of the midden. It was buried in a flexed position lying on its right side, facing north. Again, no burial goods were found. Of the incomplete burials, seven of them were identified as adult, and one juvenile.
Susan Crockford completed a faunal analysis of the materials from the excavations at DgRs 14 (Crockford 1985). The largest proportion of bones recovered and identified were that of dog. MNI was computed as 4 adult, 5 juveniles and 1 sub-adult. Low frequency of deer and elk was recorded. Ducks and geese were the most common bird species. Salmon and flatfish together "overshadowed" all other types of fauna, making up of 80% of all fauna, and 95% of all fish. Seasonality was difficult to discern, but the best estimate was that the site was occupied for short periods of time in the spring or early fall. This was proposed because of the specialization in salmon and flatfish, and little else.
Hammon submitted three samples for radiocarbon dating. The first set came out stratigraphically problematic, as the sample from the top of unit one was dated at 2360 ± 120, and the bottom of the same unit at 2100 ± 70 BP. A sample taken from unit two dated at 2060 ± 110 BP (see Table 3 for a summary of all the radiocarbon dates from the site). On the basis of artifact types and the radiocarbon estimates from her excavations, she assigned this component to the Marpole culture type.
Arcas Consulting Limited
In 1988-1989 Arcas Consulting was contracted to undertake monitoring of a residential housing development taking place in the Canadian portion of the site (Arcas 1989). They found that the portion of the site in question had already been impacted by backhoe operations. No artifacts, human or faunal remains were recovered and recommendations were made to require further monitoring before any more development. An impressive body of work on the environmental, historical, ethnographic and comparative archaeological information of the Point Roberts area has been compiled by Arcas in their reports on the nearby Tsawwassen (Arcas 1991a, 1991b, 1994) and Beach Grove (Arcas 1996) sites.
Borden changed his interpretations of Fraser Delta prehistory throughout his career (see Thom 1992a:44-62 for a detailed discussion of this). His initial interpretation of the Whalen Farm site was published by the B.C. Provincial Museum in 1950 (Borden 1950a). In this analysis Borden attempted to trace the cultural ancestors of the prehistoric inhabitants of the Fraser Delta (represented in his excavations at Locarno Beach and in the Whalen I component) to Alaska by the technological evolution of harpoon styles. The appearance of the toggling harpoon in these components suggested to him a diffusion of Eskimo culture south into the Fraser Delta.
The presence of wood-working implements and an emphasis on the chipped stone industry caused Borden to hypothesize that the Whalen II component was introduced by a different migration of people from the Interior to the Fraser Delta. Borden noted a difference between his Whalen II component and the material from the Marpole site: specifically an absence of ground slate tools and barbed harpoons in Whalen II; and the presence of obsidian microblades, Olivella beads and toggling harpoon heads (1950a:22).
In a 1962 article Borden changed his interpretations of the Whalen I component, taking into consideration new information from sites in Alaska and the Fraser Canyon (Borden 1962:12). He hypothesized that the southern Northwest Coast had developed a marine adaptation in situ and subsequently these traits spread north to Alaska. He still explained the Whalen II component, however, by a migration of Interior populations to the Coast (Borden 1962:15).
Borden's 1970 paper outlining the history of the Fraser Delta region was the most complete description of the Whalen Farm material showing a photograph and list of "type" artifacts of his proposed Whalen II phase (Borden 1970:106-110). His interpretation had not changed much since the 1962 article where he proposed important traits of the Whalen II Phase (ca. A.D. 350-800) as microblades, Olivella beads, side-and corner-notched points, and the lack of ground slate, stone bowls and stone carving. He outlined this component as representing the Whalen II phase, which marked the diffusion of a group from the Interior to the Coast and the transition of the Marpole to the Stselax phase.
The next 10 years was a time of great expansion in the knowledge of Fraser Delta prehistory. Both the Whalen II phase and Borden's diffusion theories received heavy criticism from other scholars working in the area. Borden's final article, written in 1978 and published posthumously 1983, addressed some of these criticisms (1983:158). Nowhere in this article did he mention a diffusion or migration of people from the Interior to the Coast during the Whalen II Phase. Borden argued instead that the most important aspect which distinguishes the Whalen II Phase is the fusing of traits of the Locarno Beach culture and the Marpole culture which developed into the Coast Salish culture as known in ethnographic times. These interpretations have largely been rejected by other researchers, in proposing that the Late phase or Gulf of Georgia culture type developed out of Marpole with no intervening phase (Matson and Coupland 1995:218-219 for a summary).
REANALYSIS OF BORDEN'S WORK
In order to re-evaluate the Whalen Farm material, I have examined the artifacts and features and faunal remains reported from the site and compare them to other assemblages from other sites in the Gulf of Georgia area. In my discussion of the results of this re-analysis, I consider here only the Whalen II component of the site, as on the basis of the artifact assemblage, the Whalen I assemblage can be accepted as clearly a Locarno Beach component.
Comparing Whalen II to Marpole and Gulf of Georgia Assemblages
Given that Borden originally proposed Whalen II as a transition phase between Marpole and Stselax, I begin by comparing Whalen II, Marpole and Gulf of Georgia (Borden's Stselax) assemblages. There are some important differences between Marpole and Gulf of Georgia artifact assemblages. Chipped stone is much more abundant in Marpole assemblage (averaging 33% of those reported in Burley 1980), while being almost absent from Gulf of Georgia assemblages (averaging only 6% in those reported by Thom 1992b). Bone tools and ground stone are dominant in Gulf of Georgia assemblages, with those sites summarized by Thom (1992b) average 37% and 25% respectively. This is compared to Marpole assemblages reported by Burley (1980) where they are composed of 19% and 12% for bone and ground stone respectively.
The Whalen II component itself shows a relative deficiency in chipped stone tools, making up only 15% of the component. This deficiency may be accounted for by the suspiciously low occurrence of small, flake edged tools in Borden's collections. Flake edge tools consist of only 3% of the Whalen II component and only 1% of the Whalen I component. This unusual lack of flake edged tools was also noted in a re-investigation of Borden's excavation at Locarno Beach (Pratt 1991:141). This lack of flake edged tools, and by extension the overall lack of chipped stone from the Whalen II component can be explained by the Borden's research interests and excavation methods. Borden collected "finished" artifacts from 1/4" screens. The numerous flake tools that were recovered from the assmat bags give a good indication that it is likely only a small sample of such tools was retained from the course screens or from in situ context from Borden's excavations. Thus, the assemblage likely isn't significantly different in chipped stone compared to other Marpole assemblages, when these findings are considered.
Only 5% of the Whalen II component is ground stone tools (apart from abrasive stones, which reflect stone, bone, antler and shell grinding technology), which is slightly low for the overall Marpole average, but completely dissimilar to Gulf of Georgia assemblages. The percentage of bone tools in the Whalen II component is well within the range of the Marpole average at 12% of the assemblage. With the exception of chipped stone tools, for which collection biases have been proposed, the Whalen II assemblage looks to be very Marpole-like in its frequency of different artifact types.
Is Whalen II an Anomalous Assemblage?
The "anomalous" Whalen II assemblage can be explained by the range of dates represented by the site (Table 3), which span almost the entire Marpole phase. The oldest Whalen II date was taken from a layer near the bottom of that component, while the most recent date was taken from a layer in the upper-middle portion. Between these carbon samples were many layers of occupation, likely running continuously through the 500 year span that separate the dates. What Borden thought made Whalen II untypical of a Marpole assemblage may be explained by the span of time which this component covers. Microblades being present (as they are in Whalen II) and unilaterally barbed harpoons being absent (which were not recovered by Borden in Whalen II) is typical of the Old Musqueam sub-phase of Marpole (Matson and Coupland 1995:215). Composite toggling harpoon valves (which were found in Whalen II) are more common in the later Garrison sub-phase assemblages (Matson and Coupland 1995:217). Other feature like the burial cairns reported by Harlan I. Smith, are thought to be indicative of late Marpole (ie: Garrison sub-phase) assemblages (Thom 1995:42).
One of the important distinctions which Borden claimed made the Whalen II component unique was the lack of ground slate, particularly ground slate knives. In fact, Borden's Whalen II component shows three ground slate knives and seven pieces of miscellaneous ground stone, showing that ground slate is present, albeit not abundant in the Whalen II assemblage. Side- and corner-notched projectile points, which were thought by Borden to be unique to Whalen II have been noted as a occurring Marpole trait by Mitchell and Burley (Mitchell 1971:56; Burley 1980:38).
Another problem Borden cited was the lack of stone carving associated with the Whalen II component. Yet, he described a beautiful "miniature pestle" with intricate carvings all along it which came from that component (see Borden 1983:159, figure 8.3b). Also, Borden shows in his field notes a carved stone bowl, which looks very much like a frog, which was surface collected from a road cut in the midden not too far away from the trench they were excavating (Borden 1949). Seymour also found a very nicely carved stone bowl, with a face on one side (Seymour 1976:90). This too, comes from the Marpole-aged component of the Whalen midden. Although not in stone, Borden found a delicate bone carving in his Whalen II component (Borden 1983:157, figure 8.3c), Duff found the anthropomorphic rodent incisor haft (Duff 1956, plate Ib), also thought to be from the Whalen II component (Borden 1983:159).
Re-Assessing Borden's Ideas About Whalen II
Borden's idea of the "fusion" of cultural elements (Borden 1970, 1983) over vast periods of time is a notion which has to be rejected. His idea was that the wood-working complex (unique in the Marpole phase), and the composite toggling harpoon complex (unique in the Locarno Beach phase) were fused in the Whalen II phase. As noted by Thompson (1978), cultural fusion over hundreds of years is not a satisfying explanation for cultural change. Rather, the new date obtained from the lowest portions of the Whalen II component show that the site was continuously occupied from Locarno Beach times on through to the end of Marpole. Objects like composite toggling harpoons were likely used continuously into early Marpole times, and gradually faded out, while woodworking implements gradually increased in use. Rather than cultural "fusion", the Whalen Farm site provides and excellent example of in situ cultural evolution, where technologies gradually come in and out of use through time. The boundaries of the phases or culture types are shown to have changed gradually, rather than being defined by a sharp line of culture change as would be reflected by a population insurgence.
To summarize this analysis, the evidence found supports Borden's critics and we can conclude that Whalen II is a variant of the Marpole phase, not a unique culture type. One of the most important problems with this component is that a complete report of the site, including extensive artifact reporting and analysis was previously lacking. Without such a description, the "Whalen II phase" has remained an enigma in British Columbia archaeology. This chapter has addressed this and propose a reasonable alternative - that the uniqueness of the Whalen II assemblage is a reflection of relatively continuous occupation at that location for at least 1000 years.
VALUE OF STUDYING OLD ARCHAEOLOGICAL COLLECTIONS
In the basement of the U.B.C. Museum of Anthropology lie the results of archaeological investigations which have been undertaken by Charles Borden and his students since 1946. Many of the older collections produced only preliminary reports (ie: Borden 1950a), before the next project was undertaken. The collections from the one summer's digging were catalogued and stored with the intention of further studying them someday. Rapidly increasing urbanization in British Columbia helped maintain this cycle of briefly reporting what was found, and moving on to the next project. In British Columbia there has been an apparent urgency to excavate sites before they are destroyed by urbanization. Endangered sites provide a seemingly endless supply of new archaeological data to retrieve, leaving no time to look at the old material. Borden felt this pressure throughout his career, as he was busy summer after summer with new projects (Williams 1980). After finishing two seasons of excavations at the Whalen Farm site, Borden spent the next season doing salvage work in Tweedsmuir Park.
Given that these old collections lay waiting to be documented, we need a methodology, an approach to studying them. To be able to usefully investigate an old archaeological collection, there has be a reasonably intact collection, complete with documentation. Without such things as catalogued artifacts and accompanying catalogue, field notes, maps and photographs, associated materials bags (containing un-catalogued and non-artifactual material), and a complete body of publications on the site, any sort of re-analysis is virtually impossible.
Borden was very conscientious about keeping good records in the field, and supplementing them with maps and photographs. Each artifact, when found, "immediately received an identification number and its location was measured three-dimensionally with reference to datum point and bench mark" (Borden 1950b:242). A 1:1 scale illustration was also made of almost every artifact on the catalogue sheet. This proved very useful when trying to identify artifacts that had lost all or some of their catalogue markings. The collection and documentation was kept relatively intact at the U.B.C. Laboratory of Archaeology, despite over four decades of changing buildings and curators. These conditions allowed me to undertake this re-evaluation of the Whalen Farm site.
If we have an intact collection, we need to ask questions that the collection can answer. To get at our new questions, we must strive to understand sample bias in how the collection was made. "The problem", according to Nancy Parezo, "is to determine what sort of explicit or unacknowledged sampling procedure was used" (Parezo 1987:3). These biases exist in the techniques of the excavator and in the history of the collection in the museum. Parezo goes on to explain that the research objectives of the principle investigator must be known to explain why the collection has certain items, and is lacking in others (1987:3). In archaeology, the archaeological record itself limits what is and can be collected, to a certain extent, but the research objectives of the investigator can make an enormous difference. Borden excavated at the Whalen Farm site to "recover as complete a picture as possible of the life and culture of ancient people at various periods of their history" and "follow their migrations and attempt to determine the nature of their relationships with other groups" (Borden 1950b:241).
To do this, Borden excavated as much of the midden as two field seasons would allow, with an emphasis on retrieving artifacts. The midden was excavated in levels, so that the temporal relationships of the artifacts could be determined. Borden used a 1/4" dry screen to go through the midden fill. Small artifacts such as beads and microliths are likely under- represented. Virtually all of the stone tool debitage was ignored at the site, either in the screen or in situ. In addition to debitage, flake edged tools were all but absent in the collection. The recognition of the absence of this important category of artifacts helps explain why an otherwise anomalous collection may in fact be similar to the larger record. Features like hearths and post molds, and skeletal remains are also recorded, but samples of food remains were small and unsystematic. This material can provide some insight into the styles of structures and burials, or the physical characteristics of the people buried at that site. However, we would need to view the material cautiously if we were to ask questions about diet and subsistence. Carbon samples in the assmat bags has been subsequently used to establish absolute dates for the site.
Borden's extensive field notes contributed to making an interpretation of the excavations possible. In his field notes, Borden explained the significance of the artifact numbering, as well as the system of recording provenience information. All the numbers from 1-500 indicated a find found west of the zero line plotted in the site profiles. The numbers 501+ were finds to the east of that line. Horizontal provenience was measured from a datum point, which in this case was a fence post. This fence post no longer exists, so determining the location of the site had to be done by comparing historic photographs and notes to present-day landmarks which still exist at the site. Vertical provenience was measured from an arbitrary datum point, indicated on the site profile. All this would not be known without reading the detailed field notes taken by Borden (1949) while working on the site.
Apart from the sampling bias in Borden's excavation, the storage and analysis history of the objects but be considered. Much of the life history of these objects come from their time in a museum: "new" artifacts may show up, the same catalogue number may appear on two or more artifacts, artifacts may go missing, and artifacts may get separated from the collection (Parezo 1987:7). All four of these biases were encountered with the Whalen Farm collection.
Twenty-nine "new" artifacts from the Whalen Farm site were found in the assmat bags. Subsequent finds donated to the museum from the site were put in with the collection, but were left without provenience or catalogue number. Several catalogue numbers were assigned twice to different artifacts. Here, the artifact catalogue illustrations helped sort out discrepancies. Only three artifacts with good provenience had gone missing from the collection of over 500 pieces. The well documented catalogue, complete with illustrations, helped find and organize other artifacts which had wandered to different trays in the storage bays. Some artifacts had been completely separated from the collection, and put on display in various museum exhibits. The vast majority of these could be retrieved from the display cases in the U.B.C. Museum of Anthropology, although they had been "permanently" stuck to a display board with silicon. Only two were out in a traveling exhibit, but could be accounted for from the detailed artifact catalogue.
Only after considering the excavator's bias and recent life history of these objects in storage can old collections be used to answer new research questions. It may seem doubtful that, given the previous research and storage bias, any modern research goals could be achieved. This is not the case. The researcher must simply ask questions which the collection can answer. Answering questions about subsistence or the production of chipped stone tools would not be possible given Borden's Whalen Farm collection. However, providing a full description of the materials excavated at this site, solving the problem of the nature of the "Whalen II phase" are attainable goals. By considering the excavation and storage biases, and providing a quantitative analysis of the materials with these factors in mind, I have been able to achieve a reasonable interpretation of the site.
The Whalen II component, from which the Whalen II phase was derived, can now be confidently attributed to the Marpole culture type, with supporting radiocarbon dates of 2110 ± 65 BP and 1580 ± 180 BP. Both these dates fall within the accepted temporal bounds of Marpole (Mitchell 1990). The artifact assemblage, now fully described, is not as anomalous as previously thought. The apparent absence of ground slate and stone carving in the Whalen II component has been explained through a complete tabulation of the artifacts from the site. The relative lack of chipped stone, especially flake edged tools reflects the sampling biases of the times when Borden was doing field work. The presence of microblades and composite toggling harpoon valves no longer poses a puzzle when set in the context of the early Marpole date recorded from the lowest levels of the Whalen II component. The array of objects which seem to come from widely diverse time periods (from which Borden generated his notion of cultural "fusion") or areas (from which he proposed cultural diffusion and migration) are explained here as a result of long-term, in situ cultural evolution. The deep stratigraphy of the site indicates that there had been virtually continuous seasonal occupation of the site from at least 2500 to 1500 BP and the proximity to the important historic Northern Straits Salish reef-net fishery suggests that more recent evidence may be found at future investigations of the site.
Despite these fairly solid conclusions, some problems do still exist and must not be ignored. Other biases in the sampling of artifacts may not have been as clearly reflected as the lack of chipped stone. For instance, I find it suspicious that 13 burials were recovered, but only four ground stone disk beads are present in the collection. Judging from the vast quantities of beads that have been recovered with from other nearby sites, like the Crescent Beach site (Matson, Pratt, Rankin, et al 1991) and Tsawwassen site (Arcas 1994), I suspect that a great many more beads should have been found. Another sampling problem comes in the fairly large number of artifacts that could not be attributed to a precise stratigraphic location. Adding these artifacts would have increased the reliability and utility of the sample. Finally, reconstructing the location of the original field work, in the wake of urban development, proves to be an educated guess at best. However, by keeping an open mind to these sorts of biases, the Whalen Farm collection as it exists today, can be used to address current anthropological and archaeological concerns.
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TABLE 1. Artifact Tabulation For Whalen Farm Excavations By Borden
Artifact Type Whalen I Whalen II
biface medial frag - 2
bottom notched biface - 1
biface proximal fragment - 1
bifacially retouched flake 1 1
corner notched biface 1 2
core 4 1
contracting stem biface w/ shoulders - 2
cortex spall - 1
chipped stone narrow-angled biface - 1
contracting stem biface no shoulders 3 1
leaf-shaped biface 1 7
microblade 1 11
unifac. arrow-angled retouched flake 1 -
quartz crystal microlith 1 -
side notched biface - 2
utilized flake - 3
unifac. steep-angled retouched flake - 1
Total (13) (37) (50)
Percent of component (7%) (15%)
PECKED AND GROUND STONE
adze 3 6
anvil stone 2 -
abrasive stone 22 48
decorated ground stone 1 1
formed abrasive stone 10 12
facetted ground stone point 6 1
Gulf Island complex - 2
ground stone point medial fragment 1 1
ground stone point proximal fragment 2 1
ground stone disk bead 2 2
ground slate knife 1 3
hammerstone 3 8
leaf-shaped ground stone point 3 3
handmaul - 1
miscellaneous ground stone 8 7
mortar 2 2
unfinished sinker 2 2
worked sedimentary stone 2 7
Total (70) (107) (177)
Percent of component (36%) (42%)
TABLE 1. Artifact Tabulation For Whalen Farm Excavations By Borden (cont...)
Artifact Type Whalen I Whalen II
birdbone awl 2 1
bone chisel 1 -
bone bipoint 1 1
decorated bone object - 2
formed split bone awl 6 3
metapodial awl - 1
bone needle 1 -
non-facetted bone pt w/o cntrl cavity - 3
faceted bone pt w/ central cavity - 2
net gauge 1 -
bone knife slitting instrument 1 1
pointed bone object fragment - 2
perforated bone pendant 1 -
rodent incisor tool - 3
splinter awl 1 3
tooth pendant 2 1
bird bone tube 4 3
ulna awl 3 2
unidentified worked bone fragment 4 7
worked bone end fragment 10 14
worked bone medial fragment 14 15
worked dogfish spine 25 3
bird bone whistle 2 8
Total (79) (75) (154)
Percent of component (41%) (30%)
antler foreshaft 2 -
frag unilat. barbed fixed antler point - 3
socketed harpoon valve - 1
toggling composite harpoon valve 2 6
worked antler end fragment 3 4
worked antler medial fragment 2 1
antler wedge 1 -
Total (10) (15) (25)
Percent of component (5%) (6%)
dentalium shell - 4
shell bead - 1
miscellaneous ground shell fragments 10 5
olivella shell bead - 4
shell adze blade 10 3
ground shell pendant 3 1
side notched shell point 1 1
Total (24) (19) (43)
Percent of component (12%) (8%)
Total 196 253 449
|Burial #||Age||Sex||Component||Grave Goods|
|1||senile||?||Whalen II||2 abrasive stones, 2 dentalia shell beads, worked antler end fragment|
|4||mature||m||Whalen II||large flat "burial stone", 2 abrasive stones, 2 toggling composite harpoon valves, bone point|
|9||senile||?||Whalen I||facetted ground stone point, misc. ground stone|
|10||senile||?||Whalen II||2 obsidian microblades, leaf-shaped biface, 2 abrasive stones, worked bone end frag. adze, 2 side-notched bifaces, side-notched shell point|
|11||mature||?||Whalen II||2 corner-notched bifaces, rodent incisor, shell bead, worked antler end frag.|
Table 2. Whalen Farm Burials (compiled from Borden's 1949-50 fieldnotes).
|C14 Date||Sample #||Component||Source|
|2450±160 BP||S-18||Whalen I||Borden (Thom 1992:32)|
|2360±120 BP||BETA-14123||Marpole||(Hammon 1986:97)|
|2110±65 BP||WSU 4340||Whalen II||(Thom 1992:32)|
|2100±70 BP||BETA-14124||Marpole||(Hammon 1986:97)|
|2060±110 BP||BETA-14125||Marpole||(Hammon 1986:97)|
|1580±140 BP||S-19||Whalen II||Borden (Thom 1992:32)|
Table 3. Radiocarbon Dates obtained for the Whalen Farm Site
Table 4 Artifacts From Whalen I, Whalen II, Seymour and Hammon Using Artifact Classes From Burley (1980).
Artifact Type Wh I Wh II Seym Hamn
flake edge tools 1 5 16 4
slate/sandstone disc - - 1 -
piece esquillee - - - -
microblade/core 5 12 3 11
chopper/chopping tool - 1 2 6
corner-notch/basal-notch pts 1 3 2 3
leaf-shaped points 1 7 - 2
contracting stem point 3 5 - 2
expanding stem point - - - -
triangular point - - 1 -
formed bifacial cutting
and/or scraping tools 1 1 4 3
perforators - - - -
Total 12 34 29 31
Percent by Component 12% 21% 37% 33%
triangular point - - - -
stemless points 3 3 1 -
stemmed point - - - -
facetted large point 6 1 - 1
celts/adze blades 3 6 1 4
decorative and decorated objects 3 3 1 2
labrets - - - -
shaped abrasive stones 10 12 8 -
irregular abrasive stones 22 48 5 12
handstones - - - -
stone saws - - - -
Total 47 73 16 19
Percent by Component 45% 44% 21% 20%
hand maul - 1 1 -
hammerstone 3 8 2 4
perforated stone 2 2 1 5
notched stone - - - -
mortar/bowl 2 2 2 -
Total 7 13 6 9
Percent by Component 7% 8% 8% 10%
Table 4. Artifacts From Whalen I, Whalen II, Seymour and Hammon (cont...)
Artifact Type Wh I Wh II Seym Hamn
barbed point - - - -
small unipoint - 2 4 4
bipoint 1 1 - -
mammal bone awl 6 4 2 7
bird bone awl 3 4 - -
needles 1 - 1 -
chisel/wedge tools 1 - - -
ulna awl 3 2 3 -
decorative or decorated object 1 2 2 2
bird bone point 2 4
bird bone tube 4 3 1 -
incisor tool - 3 - -
ground canine and other tooth
pendants 2 1 - -
unbarbed fixed bone point - 5 - -
Total 22 27 15 17
Percent by Component 21% 16% 19% 18%
toggle valve 2 6 1 2
unilaterally barbed harpoon - - 3 4
barbed points - 3 - 3
wedges 1 - 8 1
haft - - - -
pendants - - - -
decorated or decorative objects - - - 2
Total 3 9 12 12
Percent by Component 3% 5% 15% 13%
edge tool 10 3 - 2
pendant/gorget 3 6 - 3
Total 13 9 0 5
Percent by Component 13% 5% 0% 5%
COMPONENT TOTAL 104 165 78 93