Dr. Bryn Letham

B.A.  (Hons) Anthropology (University of British Columbia, 2008); M.Sc. MSc, Department of Anthropology (University of Toronto, 2011); Ph.D. Department of  Anthropology (University of British Columbia, 2017)
Email: bryn.letham@gmail.com  Postdoctoral Supervisor: Dr. Dana Lepofsky

• Personal webpage: https://brynletham.com/

https://brynletham.com/
https://brynletham.com/

My primary area of research is the Northwest Coast of North America. I study human-environment interactions at the landscape level by exploring the intersection of long-term settlement histories and environmental changes to understand how they influence and become entangled with each other, and how certain engagements with the landscape can be generative of new aspects of social organization. I am interested in studying shoreline change, broadly writ: both ‘naturally-' driven shoreline change resulting from shifting sea levels and other geomorphological processes, and ‘culturally-’ driven shoreline change resulting from human modifications of coastal landforms. Using geoarchaeological and geological methods, I reconstruct histories of post-glacial relative sea level change on the north Coast of British Columbia in order to  survey for archaeological sites associated with paleoshorelines to understand how people occupied dynamic coastal landscapes with shifting shore elevations. I also study how the ancient inhabitants of the Northwest Coast themselves dramatically altered shoreline landforms through the deposition of vast amounts of shell and other cultural sediments to effectively construct idealized habitation places.

My current research with Dr. Dana Lepofsky and SFU Doctoral Student Spencer Greening explores these research questions at Laxgalts'ap (Old Town) in the Douglas Channel region of the territory of the Gitga'at First Nation, as part of Dr. Lepofsky's SSHRC-funded research project, 'Historical Ecology of Cultural Keystone Places on the Northwest Coast'.

In addition to my ongoing research in Tsimshian territories on the northern Northwest Coast I have conducted research on settlement patterns, mortuary archaeology, and thousands of tiny ground stone disc beads in the territory of the shíshálh First Nation on the Sunshine Coast in southern British Columbia. I have also worked for several years helping colleagues from the University of Toronto on a survey and excavation project focusing on early Neolithic sites in the wadis of northwest Jordan.

As well as my archaeological research I have a passion for Middle Eastern and Central Asian history, geopolitics, and food, and I have spent much time travelling and learning about the myriad of cultures in those regions.

Research Key Words: Northwest Coast Archaeology, geoarchaeology, landscape and settlement archaeology, coastal archaeology, human-environment interactions, paleoenvironmental reconstructions, relative sea level change, hunter-gatherer studies, shell-bearing sites, archaeological survey methods, diatoms, Middle Eastern and Central Asian history and geopolitics.

 

Education:

2017          PhD, Department of Anthropology, University of British Columbia

2011           MSc, Department of Anthropology, University of Toronto

2008         BA (Honours), Department of Anthropology, University of British Columbia

 

Publications:

Michael Toffolo, Morgan Ritchie, Ian Sellers, Jesse Morin, Natasha Lyons, Megan Caldwell, Rosa Maria Albert, Bryn Letham, Francesco Berna

2019    Combustion features from short-lived intermittent occupation at a 1300-year-old

Coast Salish rock shelter, British Columbia: the microstratigraphic data. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 23:646-661.

 

Letham, Bryn, and Gary Coupland

2018    Ancient Mortuary Ritual and Cultural Resilience on the Northwest Coast of North America. In Hunter-Gatherer Adaptation and Resilience: A Bioarchaeological Perspective, edited by Daniel H. Temple and Christopher M. Stojanowski, pp. 227-252. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

 

Letham, Bryn, Andrew Martindale, Nicholas Waber, and Kenneth M. Ames

2018    Archaeological Survey of Dynamic Coastal Landscapes and Paleoshorelines: Locating Early Holocene Sites in the Prince Rupert Harbour Area, British Columbia, Canada. Journal of Field Archaeology 43(3):181-199, DOI: 10.1080/00934690.2018.1441575.

 

Letham, Bryn, Andrew Martindale, Kisha Supernant, Thomas J. Brown, Jerome S. Cybulski, and Kenneth M. Ames

2017    Assessing the scale and pace of large shell-bearing site occupation in the Prince Rupert Harbour Area, British Columbia. The Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology, DOI: 10.1080/15564894.2017.1387621.

 

Martindale, Andrew, Katherine Patton, Susan Marsden, Angela Ruggles, David J.W. Archer, Bryn Letham, Duncan McLaren, T.J. Brown, and Kenneth M. Ames.

2017    The Role of Small Villages in Northern Tsimshian Territory from Oral and Archaeological Records. Journal of Social Archaeology 17(3):285-325.

 

Letham, Bryn, Andrew Martindale, Rebecca Macdonald, Eric Guiry, Jacob Jones, and Kenneth M. Ames.

2016    Postglacial Relative Sea-Level History of the Prince Rupert Harbour area, British Columbia, Canada. Quaternary Science Reviews 153:156-191.

 

Coupland, Gary, David Bilton, Terence Clark, Jerome S. Cybulski, Gay Frederick, Alyson Holland, Bryn Letham, and Gretchen Williams

2016    A Wealth of Beads: Evidence for Material Wealth-Based Inequality in the Salish Sea Region, 4000-3500 Cal. B.P..American Antiquity 81(2): 294-315.

 

Bilton, David and Bryn Letham

2016    The Sechelt Archaeology Project (2008-Present). The Midden 46(1&2):5-14.

 

Letham, Bryn, Andrew Martindale, Duncan McLaren, Thomas Brown, Kenneth M. Ames, David J.W. Archer, and Susan Marsden

2015    Holocene Settlement History of the Dundas Islands Archipelago, Northern British Columbia. BC Studies 187: 51-85.

 

Letham, Bryn

2014    Settlement and Shell-Bearing Site Diversity in the Sechelt Inlet System, British Columbia. Canadian Journal of Archaeology 38(1):280-328.

 

Martindale, Andrew and Bryn Letham

2011    Causalities and Models within the Archaeological Construction of Political Order on the Northwest Coast of North America. In The Archaeology of Politics: The Materiality of Political Practice and Action in the Past, edited by P.G. Johansen and A.M. Bauer, pp. 323-353. Cambridge Scholars Press, Cambridge.

 

Martindale, Andrew, Bryn Letham, Duncan McLaren, David Archer, Meghan Burchell, and Bernd Schone

2009     Subsurface Mapping of Shell Midden Components through Percussion Coring: Examples from the Dundas Islands.Journal of Archaeological Science. 36:1565-1575.

 

Cheung C, Jing ZC, Tang JG, Richards, MP
2017 Social Dynamics in Early Bronze Age China: A Multi-Isotope Approach. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 16: 90-101. 
 
Cheung C, Jing ZC, Tang JG, Weston DA, Richards, MP
2017 Diets, Social Roles, and Geographical Origins of Sacrificial Victims at the Royal Cemetery at Yinxu, Shang China: New Evidence from Stable Carbon, Nitrogen, and Sulfur Isotope Analysis. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 48: 28-45. 
 
Cheung C, Jing ZC, Tang JG, Yue ZW, Richards, MP
2017 Examining Social and Cultural Differentiation in Early Bronze Age China using Stable Isotope Analysis and Mortuary Patterning of Human Remains at Xin'anzhuang, Yinxu. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences 9(5): 799-816. 
 
Cheung C, Schroeder H, & Hedges, REM
2012 Diet, Social Differentiation and Cultural Changes in Roman Britain: New Isotopic Evidence from Gloucestershire. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences 4(1): 61-73
Cheung C, Jing ZC, Tang JG, Richards, MP
2017 Social Dynamics in Early Bronze Age China: A Multi-Isotope Approach. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 16: 90-101. 
 
Cheung C, Jing ZC, Tang JG, Weston DA, Richards, MP
2017 Diets, Social Roles, and Geographical Origins of Sacrificial Victims at the Royal Cemetery at Yinxu, Shang China: New Evidence from Stable Carbon, Nitrogen, and Sulfur Isotope Analysis. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 48: 28-45. 
 
Cheung C, Jing ZC, Tang JG, Yue ZW, Richards, MP
2017 Examining Social and Cultural Differentiation in Early Bronze Age China using Stable Isotope Analysis and Mortuary Patterning of Human Remains at Xin'anzhuang, Yinxu. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences 9(5): 799-816. 
 
Cheung C, Schroeder H, & Hedges, REM
2012 Diet, Social Differentiation and Cultural Changes in Roman Britain: New Isotopic Evidence from Gloucestershire. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences 4(1): 61-73