Quadra island dating
Families who built the clam gardens likely controlled harvesting from those sites.
Of the clam garden walls studied on Quadra Island, new research reveals that one was built roughly 3,500 years ago.
The study was conducted on the territories of the We Wai Kai, We Wai Kum, K'omoks, Xwemalhkwu, and Klahoose Nations and supported by the Hakai Institute, the Tula Foundation, Wnner Gren, the National Geographic Society, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Simon Fraser University and the University of Victoria.
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The technology allows far more shellfish to be produced and harvested along a given stretch of coastline, especially when combined with other traditional management techniques, such as removal of larger clams.
At least one clam garden on Quadra Island is confirmed to have been built more than 3,500 years ago, making it older than the Egyptian pyramid of Ahmose, reports the study published today in the journal PLOS ONE.
“Everybody thought he was crazy,” says Christine Roberts, in charge of archaeology for the Wei Wai Kum First Nation in Campbell River, British Columbia.
They were identified to Western science by coastal geomorphologist John Harper in the mid-1990s.
“They’re a culmination of ecosystems and environmental knowledge,” she says.
Clam gardens are ingenious structures that hint at Indigenous peoples’ intimate knowledge of their environment, and their ability to sustainably manage it for their own benefit.
The dates were then compared to evidence based on the location of the wall compared to the historical position of the shoreline, which has moved further out to sea on Quadra Island over the past 14,000 years.
Smith thinks there may be clam gardens even older than 3,500 years old out there, including some further inland and some further out to sea, depending on the way the shoreline has changed at a given location.This would make it the oldest clam garden on record, pushing back the known history of these structures by as much as 2,000 years.