Students from Hamilton and Selkirk Colleges are at the important Slocan Narrows Archaeological Site carefully excavating in one of the oldest and largest pit houses on the Interior Plateau. Under the direction of Hamilton College’s Nathan Goodale and Alissa Nauman, the 11 students and two teaching assistants have been on site since June 10. This is the fourth field school to be held at this site, the others taking place in 2000, 2009 and 2011.
Radio-carbon dating of a piece of charcoal recovered from this pit house in 2009 indicates that it burned down about 2,750 years ago. To put that date in perspective, that makes habitation of this pit house contemporary with the founding of Rome by Romulus and Remus in 753 BC. Other than its unusually large size, that is all that is known about the pit house at this time.
Excavations this year are intended to expose a portion of the floor to search for clues as to how many people might have lived in it and what activities took place inside the house. Was the pit house occupied only once, or was it rebuilt several times? Was there a ceremonial aspect to its use or was it strictly residential? These and many other questions may be answered by what is found this year.
On Saturday, July 13, the archaeological field school is hosting a public “open house” at the site with small-group informative lectures by Nathan Goodale followed by guided tours of the site. The open house takes place between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. with new guided tours beginning every 20 minutes until 1:30 p.m. This event will be interactive with lots of opportunity to ask questions. A suggested donation of $10 will cover a BBQ lunch to be served by the Slocan Valley Heritage Trail Society with proceeds going to cover interpretive signage and other enhancements along the Slocan Valley Rail Trail.
To get to the site, park at the Slocan Valley Rail Trail’s Kennedy Road (Lemon Creek) trailhead and walk north along the level, scenic rail trail. Allow 15 minutes from the time you park to walk to the site. Further information may be obtained at 250-355-2397.