Middle Columbia River Environmental Archaeology


Astra Palmer, Harley Biggs

Faculty Mentor(s)

Steven Hackenberger (Anthropology & Museum Studies)


As part of our Provost and OUR supported research project with Dr. Hackenberger, we have undertaken a focused study of the sediments and stratigraphy of the Wahluke Site (45GR306). This site is situated on a high terrace on the Hanford Reach of the Columbia River. The site was investigated in 1989. We are reevaluating the radiocarbon dating and comparing the natural strata (paleo-floods) with cultural layers. The cultural features and occupation layers include house floors and house fill. Large circular “pithouses” were built partially below ground, and during disuse or abandonment the house “pits” were filled with sediments transported by wind and water. We are obtaining more accurate radiocarbon dates on bone to compare with previous dates from charcoal samples (1300 to 1150 BP, or about A.D. 650). We suspect that these age estimates from charcoal reflect an older wood bias. More precise bone dates for salmon (with a marine carbon correction) pinpoint house occupations. Combined with other studies our results will contribute to models of climate change and the long-term productivity of salmon fisheries.

Keywords: Archaeology, Paleoenvironments, Salmon


4 thoughts on “Middle Columbia River Environmental Archaeology”

  1. That was great, Astra and Harley! I enjoy seeing how another discipline develops research questions and answers.

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