Kamloops archaeologist walking her dog finds 9,000-year-old artifact on Thompson River - InfoNews

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Kamloops archaeologist walking her dog finds 9,000-year-old artifact on Thompson River

Joanne Hammond found a spearhead this past weekend as she was walking along the Thompson River on the Kamloops north shore thanks to the low water levels. It could be up to 9,000 years old.
Image Credit: TWITTER / Joanne Hammond
March 14, 2020 - 12:00 PM

A Kamloops archaeologist happened across a piece of history dating back between 9,000 to 6,000 years while she was out for a stroll with her dog.

Joanne Hammond, director of heritage and assistant CEO with the Skeetchestn Natural Resources Corp., found the spearhead this past weekend as she was walking along the Thompson River.

“Anywhere that’s not developed, there’s a pretty good likelihood you're going to find something," Hammond says.

She says the term ‘site’ can mean anything from a single artifact to an entire village.

Hammond is now in the process of registering the area near Kamloops' north shore as a designated archeological site, which will give it some government recognition and protection. She will send photographs, a mapped location and a report to the Archaeology Branch of the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.

The spearhead she found is among some of the oldest found in the Kamloops area. She says past studies and radio carbon dating have led research teams to understand the period range in which the points were used, and says even the shape hints to when and how it was used.

“That’s a really distinctive style. In general, the bigger and more robust points tend to be older,” Hammond says. “The most recent style of point is specific to Kamloops is called the Kamloops points and it’s this very small triangle points with notches at the sides, they're very distinctive.”

She says the older, rounder spear head was used before atlatls were invented to throw spears further and faster. That means the hunter who used this spearhead would have most likely worked with others to take down large game such as elk, deer and sheep.

“It would've been a pretty risky thing to do by yourself, so most of the hunting was done communally,” she says.

Hammond says nearly every year, she finds one or two artifacts while out and about. With 265 designated sites within 10 kilometres of the downtown area, Kamloops is second only to Victoria for the number of sites within close proximity to the city.

“(Kamloops) was always a pretty important hub. It was a pretty dense residential area in pre-contact times, and a trading hub and a travel corridor, so it it does have a higher number of archeological sites than other areas,” Hammond says. “It’s a good example of when things like this comes up to be reminded of the depth and intensity of the cultures that were here before them."

“Just because we pave over it, doesn't mean it disappears," she says.

There are 165 sites within city limits, 200 sites on the Tk'emlups te Secwepemc land, and 175 sites located in what is known as the Secwepemc Cradle between Kamloops and Chase.

Registering the sites can help officials to monitor historical areas, but any artifacts found - even if not on a designated site - are still protected by law, according to Hammond. She recommends reporting a found artifact the the Secwepemc Museum.

“There are a lot of circumstances where people are concerned that someone else is going to nick it, if they do leave it there, and that is legitimate… we recommend that people leave it. You can hide it under something, pretty much a few leaves are going to do the trick.”

Hammond says removing an artifact such as a spearhead can disrupt archeological research in the area.

“The majority of the value of the artifact is in its context, its location and the things it’s associated with,” Hammond says. “As soon as you remove it, that context is lost and so most of the information we can learn from a site is lost, and all you have left is a collectible... So we really, strongly encourage people to leave it there.”

— This story was originally published on March 11, 2020.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Jenna Wheeler or call (250) 819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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