Research Interests

Our consultancy work contributes to a number of broad research interests in the archaeology of the Northwest Coast.


Near-Infrared Spectroscopy

Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (NIR) is a spectroscopic technique that generates detailed source identification for nephrite artifacts. On the Northwest Coast, these are most often found in the form of celts, a woodworking and ceremonial artifact traded long distances across the Interior and across the Salish Sea.

These results were included in Dr. Jesse Morin’s broader research initiative described here.

X-Ray Fluorescence

Lithic artifacts recovered from our projects have been analyzed utilizing x-ray fluorescence (XRF), allowing us to track both local and exotic materials across time and space. These data enhance our knowledge of resource use and trade networks connecting sites within and beyond the Northwest Coast.

Please refer to Dr. Rudy Reimer’s ongoing research for more information on the utility of XRF sourcing.


Historical archaeology provides insight into the recent human landscapes of the Northwest Coast. The accurate recording of historic site use can bridge ethnographic, historical, and archaeological datasets to help establish continuity of use through the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries. In addition, accurate dating of historic material culture is essential for determining legislated site protection status in British Columbia.


By collecting Carbon 14 samples from all sites within the scope of our research, Inlailawatash is actively contributing to a radiocarbon database for sites in the Salish Sea. This chronological data is invaluable in tracking long term cultural change in site size, type, and variability. For more information, please refer to the Canadian Archaeological Radiocarbon Database (CARD), a publicly available database is curated by the Laboratory of Archaeology at the University of British Columbia.


Detailed study of faunal assemblages of bone and shell allow us to characterize resource use at sites with adequate preservation. Identifying species and elements is essential for characterizing site type, and detailed analysis can reveal patterns in site seasonality, site type, and long term changes in resource use.


Identifications of preserved paleobotanical remains such as wood, seeds, pollen, and needles allow us to explore the breadth of resource use and seasonality of site use. Boughs used as bedding may reveal dense mats of needles, while berry caches have revealed seeds of many species. In combination with a detailed faunal analysis, paleobotanical remains can illuminate the rich variety of material culture in archaeological sites, often unseen in coarse-grained analysis.


Our investigations into the details of archaeological sites are complemented by GIS research initiatives into broader landscapes. Looking at movement across sites culture areas through GIS modelling allows us to define sites within complex networks of social interaction.

3D Site Mapping

Mapping sites with high-precision GPS, drone photography, photogrammetry, and Total Station allows us to accurately define surface features in relation to broader landscapes. The seamless integration of small and large scale archaeological data in 3D models allows us to present sites in their totality, showing the complex relationships between site use areas and the broader landscape.

Least Cost Analysis

Least Cost Analysis seeks to calculate the time or energy (cost) required to traverse the landscape before the advent of motorized transport. Using villages, encampments, and resource gathering sites as starting points, we can produce detailed estimates of ancient land use. By combining data from a number of known locations, we can display detailed predictions for wider scale landscape use. In cases where starting points and destinations are known, we can evaluate path efficiency.

Inlailawatash GIS staff helped develop a Least Coast Analysis methodology. The results of this analysis were presented as maps displaying lengths of travel time from major sites. This data informed a number of statistics including: area of land within a given travel time, water travel time between sites, and percentage of overlap between least cost catchments. This information is being used to assist with risk assessments, referrals, road building, and legal cases.

This project was presented at the SFU 2015 Archaeology Symposium during the session titled Modelling Marine Oriented Hunter-Gatherer-Fisher Landscape/ Seascape Use and Territory with GIS: Two Coast Salish Examples.