Archaeological materials discovered at Boitanio Mall in Williams Lake – Williams Lake Tribune
On Thursday, October 13, 2022, archaeological material was discovered during soil disruptive excavation work at the Boitanio Shopping Center renovation site.
Janda Group, owner of the Boitanio Mall in Williams Lake, has been working to renovate the mall to provide 82 new rental units and 164 parking spaces.
General contractors from the Janda Group began earthworks at the site on the morning of Tuesday, October 11, in the presence of representatives from Williams Lake First Nation, Sugar Cane Archeology (the professional archaeological services company wholly owned by WLFN) and the Archer Cultural Resource Management Group. to collaborate and oversee the process.
WLFN and Sugar Cane Archeology knew that the mall was built on a significant archaeological site when it was originally built in 1974.
Thursday’s find was a projectile point, possibly from an arrow or spear, and several pieces of lithic debitage (shards of broken stone created as a byproduct of stone tool production).
The tip of the projectile is fine-grained volcanic rock. Whitney Spearing of Sugar Cane Archeology says the pieces will be X-rayed in hopes their origin can be determined.
“During excavation, a lens of light and dark earth was visible not far below the asphalt of the parking lot. This suggested that we were touching an intact original soil layer, undisturbed by the construction of the shopping center of origin,” Spearing explains. “Underneath was a loamy, sandy layer, which is the type of environment where archaeological materials are frequently found.”
There are no further ground disruptive excavations required for the completion of the renovation project, so this is the only time archaeologists will have access to the site.
Spearing says that although their window is small, there is still a lot of work to be done.
All the earth removed during the excavation (which continues this weekend) will be examined; raked and sifted for materials.
Bulk samples will be sent to a lab to be “floated” (using water to extract light organic matter like seeds and pollen from the soil).
During the initial construction of the mall in 1974, it was discovered that the building and associated infrastructure was located on an archaeological site containing underground houses (kikwilies), cache pits and a large number of human burials.
About 13 disarticulated human skeletons were dug up and trucked to the site of what is now A&W at Williams Lake.
There, these human remains were dumped and pushed onto the embankment without the involvement of Williams Lake First Nation or other First Nations communities.
WLFN, Sugar Cane Archeology and Archer Cultural Resource Management Group said they were grateful to the Janda Group for their inclusion in the disruptive soil excavations.
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