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20 September 2004
5,700-year-old smokehouse found in Canada

A group of archaeology students working with the Sto:lo expected to find some artifacts at the site near Agassiz (Canada) this summer. But they ended up finding something bigger, and older, than anything they imagined. After turning up a large collection of tools and leftover stone chips, one student found what appears some type of smokehouse that has since been radiocarbon-dated at 5,700 years old.
     Much of the work at the site during the summer centred around a long trench that had been dug up using a backhoe. Through most of the project, the group collected a lot of small items, which SFU archeology professor Dana Lepofksy is currently looking at. "We're analyzing the artifacts and all the little bits and pieces of stuff we collected."
     On one of the digs though a student named Meagan Cameron turned up what turned out to be a portion of the smokehouse. While the group left the structure partially buried, they were able to run the necessary tests to determine age of the structure. They also found that the site was built around a hugh hearth, used for for heat and for cooking, according to the professor. They also did carbon-dating on some midden material that turned out to be about 6,100 years old. Lepofsky figures the site at that time was not a permanent settlement but was used as a stopping grounds by what she terms as 'hunter-gatherer-fisher-folk'.
     This summer's dig near Agassiz was a joint effort between SFU, students from other universities and the Sto:lo. Lepofsky said local communities were also very co-operative in helping the project. The work was part of a longer term effort looking at old First Nations sites in the Fraser Valley as a whole, and it will continue next summer somewhere in this region.

Source: Chilliwack Times, Canada.com (14 September 2004)

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