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What's Happening: GOLD Update

Gitga'at Oceans and Lands Department (GOLD) had a jam-packed summer. Their research team returned to work on Moore, and their exploration yielded some exciting finds.

Annual Camp Site on Gander Island

The anchorage/lagoon on the northern tip of Gander Island is where the team made their annual camp.

They chose this location due to their discovery in 2021 of an ancient site in this area, dating back 5,000 to 9,500 years and featuring remarkably well-preserved animal bones. These findings promised invaluable insights into the harvesting practices of Moore Group from a bygone era. The team also uncovered stone tools on the lagoon's beach, potentially dating back 11,500 to 15,000 years.

Findings in Location #1

In the ancient site, the team excavated a small area. This site, situated 10 metres above sea level, had been occupied when the sea level was slightly higher around Moore Group. The excavation unearthed an impressive concentration of animal bones, representing diverse species and offering a glimpse into ancient harvesting practices.

The team plans to send these bones for expert identification. Preliminary observations suggest the presence of rockfish, seabirds, sea mammals, and possibly even dog remains.

Most intriguingly, they found a layer containing numerous whale bones. Some bones appeared to have been split, possibly for extracting grease or marrow or for tool-making. Additionally, they discovered stone tools, including an obsidian projectile point, which they will have analyzed to determine the rock's source.

Findings in Location #2

In another spot, the team did more digging in a rock shelter overhang not far from the first site. Here, they uncovered signs of ancient fires and tools made of stone.

What's most fascinating is that deep down in the earth, they found stone tools stuck in clay left behind by massive glaciers from the Last Ice Age—it poses the question of whether people might have lived on these islands shortly after the ice disappeared. If it turns out to be true, it could be the oldest time humans lived on the west coast.

The team also carefully checked out the beach in the anchorage area near the lagoon. They created a detailed map of a particular spot where they found more than 150 stone tools. People who lived in an ancient village or campsite around 11,500 to 15,000 years ago likely left these tools behind.

When the sea level rose after that time, it washed away the dirt in this area, but the heavy stone tools didn't budge and ended up on the beach. The GOLD team didn't take these artifacts with them, but they made sure to write down detailed descriptions and take pictures of them.

Findings from Smaller Testing

Lastly, the team did some smaller tests using shovels and augers around the places they dug up and the beach. They discovered different old things buried all over the lagoon, showing that people have been using this spot for a long time, even as the sea level and the shape of the shore changed.

More Exploration to Come

The team's main objectives in the coming summer include obtaining dates for these new discoveries, compiling a comprehensive report, and initiating further laboratory analysis. They also plan to arrange a community meeting in the fall to share their findings.

Stay tuned for further news about these discoveries from the GOLD team!


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