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24 October 2003
Canadian caves yield ancient artifacts

A caving expedition to the Queen Charlotte Islands (Canada) is believed to have found the base of a spear point that could represent the oldest human artifact on the British Columbia coast. The quartz spear point could be up to 11,000 years old, based on the sediment layer in which it was found, lending further credence to the theory that early humans migrated down the coast of North America by watercraft rather than travelling inland along an ice-free corridor.
     "Certainly, on the British Columbia coast, it would probably be the oldest site," said Parks Canada archeologist Daryl Fedje, comparing it with similar ancient human sites dated to about 10,300 years on Prince of Wales Island in Alaska, 10,500 years at Charlie Lake near Fort St. John, and almost 11,000 years on Santa Rosa Island, California. "It's a very interesting, very exciting find. But it's still preliminary."  The quartz used to make the spear is not known to occur on the Queen Charlottes.
     The week-long July expedition involved a combination of nine cavers, archeologists, paleontologists, and Haida natives, who know the Queen Charlottes off northwest British Columbia as Haida Gwaii. It was the fourth annual expedition to the cave - known simply as K-1 - located on remote Moresby Island outside Gwaii Haanas National Park in old-growth forest at least 500 metres from the shoreline.
     To date, just over one kilometre of cave passageway - ranging from a tight squeeze to vast chambers - has been mapped or explored. The exact location is not being released to protect the cave from unsupervised exploration and the potential removal of valuable artifacts.

Sources: Time Colonist, Victoria Canada.com (15 October 2003)

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