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ewriting Marpole: The Path to Cultural Complexity in the Gulf of Georgia
Rewriting Marpole: The Path to Cultural Complexity in the Gulf of Georgia

This book examines prehistoric culture change in the Gulf of Georgia region of the northwest coast of North America during the Locarno Beach (3500–1100 BP) and Marpole (2000–1100 BP) periods. The Marpole culture has traditionally been seen to possess all the traits associated with complex hunter-gatherers on the northwest coast (hereditary inequality, multi-family housing, storage-based economies, resource ownership, wealth accumulation, etc.) while the Locarno Beach culture has not.

This research examined artifact and faunal assemblages as well as data for art and mortuary architecture from a total of 164 Gulf of Georgia archaeological site components. Geographic location and ethnographic language distribution were also compared to the archaeological data. Analysis was undertaken using Integrative Distance Analysis (IDA), a new statistical model developed in the course of this research.

Results indicated that Marpole culture was not a regional phenomenon, but much more spatially and temporally discrete than previously thought. Artifactual assemblages identified as Marpole were restricted to the areas of the Fraser River, northern Gulf Islands and portions of Vancouver Island.

In contrast, the ethnographic territory of the Straits Salish showed no sign of Marpole culture, but rather a presence of Late Locarno Beach culture. The pattern found in artifacts was replicated in the distribution of art and mortuary architecture variation suggesting the cultural differences between Marpole and Late Locarno Beach cultures was real and not merely a statistical anomaly.

Terence Clark joined the Canadian Museum of Civilization in 2011 as Curator of Western Canadian Archaeology. He received his doctorate from the University of Toronto. He has held research and teaching positions at University College London and the University of Toronto. His specialties include spatial analysis, geographic information systems (GIS) and statistics. His research focuses on prehistoric economic and social change, resource management and group identity in the archaeological record in coastal British Columbia.

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