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Radiocarbon dating, Pacific Coast (B.C.), Shell middens -- Prince Rupert Harbour (B.C.)


Prince Rupert Harbour (PRH), on the north Pacific Coast of British Columbia, contains at least 157 shell middens, of which 66 are known villages, in an area of approximately 180 km2. These sites span the last 9500 yr and in some cases are immense, exceeding 20,000 m2 surface area and several meters in depth. Recent archaeological research in PRH has become increasingly reliant on radiocarbon dates from marine shell for developing chronologies. However, this is problematic as the local marine reservoir effect (MRE) remains poorly understood in the region. To account for the MRE and to better date the Harbour’s sites, we propose a ΔR of 273±38 for the PRH area, based on our work at the site of Kitandach (GbTo-34), a massive shell midden-village centrally located within the Harbour. We followed the multiple paired sample approach for samples from specific contexts and ensured contemporaneity within the groups of marine and terrestrial materials by statistically assessing for outliers using the χ2 test. Taking together, the results for this and previous studies, it appears the MRE was fairly constant over the past 5000 yr.


© 2016 by the Arizona Board of Regents on behalf of the University of Arizona This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.



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