M.A. Theses: Arthur Sydney Charlton, 1978

The Archaeology of the Belcarra Site: A Contribution to the Strait of Georgia Prehistory

This thesis focuses on the later prehistory of the Strait of Georgia, the poorly understood period between A.D. 400 and 1200. Archaeological excavations undertaken in 1971 at the Belcarra Park site (DhRr 6), a large prehistoric site located on the east shore of Indian Arm northeast of Vancouver, provides the information on which the study rests. A description and analysis of the prehistoric and historic cultural materials recovered from that site is presented and comparisons are made with other assemblages from sites on the lower Fraser River and Strait of Georgia.

Analysis of the artifactual and stratigraphic data from the fifteen excavation units at the Belcarra Park site has resulted in the isolation of two discrete occupations. Comparisons of the earliest occupation (Belcarra Park I) with other assemblages indicates that it is a cultural component of the previously-defined Locarno Beach phase, and probably dates between 800 and 200 B.C. The stratigraphically younger component (Belcarra Park II), dated between the 4th and 9th centuries A.D., is markedly different in content and bears more resemblance to components of the Whalen II and Stselax phases.

Three alternative hypotheses are examined to explain the cultural difference between the two components, and it is argued that a gradual cultural change base upon the introduction of new techniques to exploit the environment is the most likely explanation to date.