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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The Charles culture of the Gulf of Georgia : a re-evaluation of the culture and its three sub-phases Pratt, Heather Lynn


This thesis investigates a particular cultural period (the Charles Culture) existing from approximately 5500 to 3300 years ago on the Northwest Coast. The Charles Culture consists of three local phases known as Esilao, St. Mungo and Mayne. Three research questions are proposed in this study. The first question deals with the St. Mungo phase and focuses on the degree of cultural variability manifest within this particular sub-phase. Two sites known to contain St. Mungo components (Glenrose Cannery and St. Mungo Cannery) are compared to a third component originally proposed to be representative of the Mayne phase. The hypothesis states that the degree of variability between the three components will be minimal if all three are representative of the St. Mungo phase. This hypothesis is tested using both artifactual and non-artifactual data from the three sites and respective components. Of the three research questions proposed, this one is answered the most successfully. There is little variation present amongst the three components in terms of both artifactual and non-artifactual data. Unexpectedly, it was also demonstrated that while the Charles components from Glenrose and St. Mungo are often discussed interchangeably, there are differences in their artifact assemblages. The second research questions follows from the first and ponders the degree of variability present between the Charles and Locarno Beach components at the Crescent Beach site. A comparison between these two phases from the same site had not been previously possible. The hypothesis states that if the two phases demonstrate continuity with each other, this is evidence of a gradual insitu evolution of the Northwest Coast ethnographic pattern present at contact. This question is not answered as successfully as the first due to the high degree of similarity present between the two artifact assemblages. Several explanations for this are presented. The Locarno Beach artifact assemblage from Crescent Beach is also compared to the typesite artifact assemblage from the Locarno Beach site, with differences between the two components presented and discussed. This was done i n order to determine the feasibility of defining the middle component at Crescent Beach as Locarno Beach in nature. The artifactual differences present are argued to be partially reflective of site function and environmental differences present at the two sites. The final research question concerns the Charles Culture and the feasibility of its existence over such a long time period and physical area. This hypothesis states that there is sufficient cultural similarity present to continue usage of the term Charles Culture. Several components defined as Charles or tentative Charles components are examined. The data is gathered together to present a synopsis of what is known to date concerning the Charles Culture. As with the f i r s t research question, this question focuses on the degree of variability present between the three sub-phases of the Charles Culture (rather than just one) using both artifactual and non-artifactual data. There is some difficulty encountered during this final analysis due to the lack of published data. For example, little is published concerning the Esilao phase, yet it is an integral part of the Charles Culture. Nevertheless, this third research question is answered somewhat affirmatively. This section of my thesis includes further information concerning the placing of the Charles component at Crescent Beach into the St. Mungo phase as well as the status of the Mayne phase. The results of the study indicate that the three research questions and their resulting hypotheses can be answered in the affirmative with varying degrees of success. Recommendations for further research include the need for better published data concerning the early time periods on the Northwest Coast. It is also recommended that future analysis of the Charles Culture incorporate non-artifactual data such as debitage and faunal remains because these types of information are important when doing accurate comparisons of artifact assemblages. Finally, it is also suggested that Northwest Coast archaeologists work together to create more comparable archaeological data. Before one can make firm conclusions about the general research questions pertinent to the prehistory of the Northwest Coast, Northwest Coast archaeologists must start at the beginning and create interchangeable data sets.

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