Archaeology Techniques Slide Shows

This post contains a total of 314 images of archaeology excavation techniques from a wide variety of sites. These were used by the creator of this web site to develop social studies curriculum for Kelsey School Division in The Pas, Manitoba and to provide additional illustrations for the associated Archaeology Excavation Simulation web site.

This post also serves to present many more photos of archaeological excavations photographed by the author Paul C. Thistle beyond those able to be used to illustrate the exemplar Southern Indian Lake 182 excavation outlined on the author’s new Archaeology Excavation Simulation web site that includes an hour-long Narrated PowerPoint detailing the theory & practice of the author’s simulation method.

Viewers here are advised to download the author’s descriptions of all 129 slides in the following series PDF file Techniques of Archaeology by Thistle 1978 03 . Each slide caption in the 5 series immediately below has the number of the related narration text. Some are rather extensive. They were produced by your blogger 1976-1978 to support senior & junior high school Native Studies curriculum.

Archaeological Techniques Slide Show Sections:

  • Survey to Find Archaeological Sites
  • Preparing & Excavating a Boreal Forest Archaeological Site
  • Northwest Pacific Coast Archaeological Sites
  • Atypical Heavy Equipment Excavation Method
  • Archaeological Laboratory Work

Survey to Find Archaeological Sites:

Preparing & Excavating a Boreal Forest Archaeological Site:

The following section focusses on the salvage excavation identified as SIL 182 carried out in 1974 in advance of hydro electric dam flooding of Southern Indian Lake in northern Manitoba that would inundate this prehistoric site.

The first 2 slides below are from another site nearby the SIL 182 excavation camp that was cleared on a rainy day instead of attempting to excavate in the rain.

  • two small projectile points
  • broken pottery plate

Northwest Pacific Coast Archaeological Sites:

Note: The author wishes to express his appreciation to Bjorn Simonsen at the British Columbia Archaeological Sites Advisory Board for his suggestions, directions, & permission to visit & photograph the excavations in BC pictured in this post (1976). Additional information on the Little Qualicum Beach wet excavation site next shown here is available in Bernick, Kathryn. 1983. A Site Catchment Analysis of the Little Qualicum River Site, DiSc 1 .

  • clam shell midden or waste dump

Atypical Heavy Equipment Excavation Method:

Fort Pitt, an historic site located on the North Saskatchewan River in modern-day Saskatchewan was destroyed by fire after it was surrendered to Big Bear’s Cree during the Riel Resistance in April 1885. In 1976, this site was being excavated as the author was passing through on his ‘photo safari’.

  • grid created by road grader

Archaeological Laboratory Work:

The above “The Techniques of Archaeology” 5-part slide series as well as the following ones on Ozette, Thompson River Pit Houses, & Fort Walsh were developed to supplement Native Studies Curriculum for senior & junior high schools for the Kelsey School Division in The Pas, MB. The author has been told that they remain there in 2021.

Other Excavations & Related Slide Shows:

  • SIL 182 Base Camp & Activities
  • Ozette Excavation on the Coast of Washington
  • Thompson River Pit House Excavations
  • Fort Walsh North-West Mounted Police Historic Site Excavation
  • Upper Fort Garry
  • Manitoba Museum of Man & Nature Boreal Forest Archaeology Exhibit
  • Yukon Klondike Archaeology
  • The Sam Waller Museum Archaeology
  • Archaeology Excavation Travelling Exhibit

SIL 182 Base Camp & Activities:

This grouping of images gives an overview of the Southern Indian Lake SIL 182 excavation camp as well as various related activities.

  • twin engine bush plane on floats
  • cabin at the base camp
  • cook shack
  • Kathy, camp cook
  • supply flight at camp dock
  • fishing boat arrival at the excavation camp
  • student gutting a fish
  • student excavator carrying wood for cooking fire
  • tent that was home to the author
  • author's bed
  • 2 tipis
  • view south from SIL 182 excavation camp that was the route of daily boat travel to the site.
  • wooden yawl transporting excavators to work
  • training for student excavators
  • stdent excavator learning to use a survey transit
  • after lunch siesta
  • teacher & student working by Coleman lamp
  • field trip to island damaged by forest fire
  • canoe with outboard motor
  • mouth of pickerel fish spawning stream logged to reduce the ecological damage of hydro dam flooding
  • view from canoe en route to excavation
  • field crew leader Michael E. Kelly

Other Excavations:

While teaching Native Studies in The Pas, Manitoba, Canada, the creator of this web site spent the summer of 1976 on a ‘photo safari’ visiting museums in a huge figure-8 route stretching from Haida Gwaii on the Pacific coast to Ottawa, ON visiting historic sites & archaeological excavations with the aim to produce 35 mm colour slide shows to bolster the Kelsey School Division Native Studies curriculum. The final product was 40 slide shows on a variety of subjects including the one on archaeological methods shown above. The following slide shows address other specific sites as stand-alone slide presentations or excerpts from those with archaeology sections dealing with a wide variety of Indigenous histories or cultures.

Ozette Excavation on the Coast of Washington:

Viewers here are encouraged to download the PDF with detailed information on each slide at the Ozette Excavation . The related slide numbers in this document appear in the slide caption.

Thompson River Pit House Excavations:

Viewers here are encouraged to download the PDF of slide descriptions at Thompson River Archaeology XXI . The related slide numbers in this document appear in the slide captions.

Fort Walsh North-West Mounted Police Historic Site Excavation:

Viewers here are encouraged to download the detailed descriptions of each slide at Fort Walsh Archaeology V NWMP III established in 1875 to address the illegal alcohol trade in the Cypress Hills, Northwest Territory (modern-day Saskatchewan).  The document’s slide numbers are shown in the image caption.

  • Photo of Fort Pitt, 1885.

Upper Fort Garry:

Except for the first, the following slides were taken by the author on 2 occasions, 1979 & 1982. This details the National Historic Site Upper Fort Garry, the Hudson’s Bay Company depot constructed on the north bank of the Assiniboine River in Winnipeg, Manitoba just west of its confluence with the Red River.

Manitoba Museum of Man & Nature Boreal Forest Archaeology Exhibit:

The following slides show the author’s images taken at the new MMMN [now known as the Manitoba Museum] Boreal Forest Gallery in 1980.

  • diorama exhibit showing the painting of a design on a rock face.
  • overview of following close-ups
  • spear point with throwing stick weight
  • stone tools called "bifaces" flaked on both sides of the edge
  • several stone scraping tools
  • large metamorphic stone scraping tool
  • ground tone tools
  • ceramic pot rim sherds
  • reconstructed pot
  • ceramic plate
  • sequence of diagnostic artifacts
  • chart showing prehistoric & historic changes in subsistence & settlement patterns

Yukon Klondike Archaeology:

While I was Director/Curator of The Dawson City Museum & Historical Society, 1999-2002, I was able to visit excavation projects including one on the site of the Klondike Mines Railway yard at Klondike City on the south bank of the Klondike River at its confluence with the Yukon River across from Dawson City.

Of course, during the Gold Rush after the August 1896 discovery of the significant deposits up the Klondike River, the explosion of population in Dawson City created a shortage of land there. This forced the later arriving gold seekers to move up the steep hills closely surrounding the limited flat land on all sides of Dawson City & Klondike City (immediately across the Klondike River mouth) to construct small terraces for tents & small cabins. This location is situated on the Tr’o-ju-wch’in Heritage Site, a traditional Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation locale traditionally used to dry fish & meat. The terraces on the steep hill behind the flats remain with fans of refuse downhill from each of them were also being excavated at the time. See the author’s review of the lead archaeologist Michael Brand (2002) Archaeological Investigations of Transient Residences on the Hillsides Surrounding Dawson City at Review of BRAND .

  • confluence of the Klondike River with the Yukon River
  • mouth of the Klondike River
  • 3 locomotives salvaged from Klondike City
  • steam locomotive # 2
  • locomotive # 3
  • Brooks Mogul locomotive
  • Klondike Mines Railway car carriage trucks
  • Klondike Mines Railway car carriage trucks
  • possibly a furnace
  • historic remains on Klondike City site
  • excavation
  • Klondike Mines Railway ties
  • dry laid stone wall for terrace construction
  • Late 19th century gold rush era materials remaining on the surface in 1999
  • excavation of hillside cabin terrace
  • example of discarded artifact 'fan' below terrace cabinfan
  • Klondike City, 1999
  • plaque for Yukon Ditch
  • Yukon Ditch aqueduct structure
  • Adams Gulch in Klondike gold fields
  • abandoned wheel barrow
  • after work excursion by Dawson heritage worker
  • Adams Gulch dam
  • breech in dam
  • breech in dam
  • dry laid stone downstream face of dam
  • breach section of dam
  • Downstream dam face
  • top of dam
  • Reservoir side at top of dam
  • dam engineered by J.B. Tyrrell
  • dam stability berm structure near base
  • Greg Skuce & Barb Hogan at base of dam.
  • Dam penstock control gate
  • penstock control gate
  • dredge tailings near the mouth of the Klondike River
  • dredge tailings on Bonanza Creek
  • Dredge # 4 National Historic Site
  • Diagram of placer mining dredge
  • Dredge # 4
  • Dredge # 4 pilot house
  • abandoned stem shovel
  • View of Hunker Creek
  • placer mine, Hnker Creek
  • mammoth tusk
  • Cemetery near Hunker Creek
  • delapidated cemetery fence
  • Historic remains on Hunker Creek Road.
  • Historic roof shingled with recycled tin cans.
  • Another abandoned heritage structure
  • View south from Midnight Dome, Dawson.
  • steamboat wreck on north bank of Yukon River near Dawson City
  • history building with severe lean
  • Guns & Ammo Building historic plaque
  • Guns & Ammo Building under restoration

The Sam Waller Museum Archaeology:

The completion of a $1.7 million capital project led by Paul C. Thistle to move The Sam Waller Museum in The Pas into a Manitoba provincially designated historic site to create an effectively climate-controlled professional museum facility—while protecting the brick facade from strong vapour pressure forcing humidity injected into interior spaces out to the winter season freezing point where expansion would have destroyed the brick—permitted the planning & installation of permanent & temporary exhibit galleries. See the hour-long narrated PowerPoint about the ways by which this was accomplished in .

Also note the images of the author’s salvage work at the Henry Highway house construction site on the Opaskwayak Cree Nation reserve just across the Saskatchewan River from The Pas, MB.

  • Exhibit of art and artifacts from Pagnirtung
  • Inuit artifacts
  • reconstructed fragments of an Inuit cookin pot
  • Waller Museum archaeological display
  • museum storage cabinet with archaeological artifacts
  • mockup of archaeological exhibit
  • archaeology excavation simulation
  • archaeology month 1995 poster
  • reproduction of prehistoric ceramic containers
  • reproduction of prehistoric ceramic containers
  • reproduction of early Cree pottery
  • reproduction of late Cree pottery
  • event participants manipulating clay
  • cord wrapped paddle for formic clay pots
  • wet clay pots drying beside fire
  • archaeologist flint knapping demonstration
  • Participants preparing to practice using atlatls
  • participant launching atlatl dart
  • Museum summer staff member Keith Hyde
  • atlatl throwing board
  • Young young participant demonstrating grip on atlatl throwing board.
  • young participant demonstrating grip on atlatl throwing board
  • participant launching atlatl dart
  • ceramic rim sherds
  • These artifacts also were reported to the Manitoba Heritage Resoures Branch.
  • reconstructed ceramic rim sherds
  • Reconstructions used for display
  • ceramic body sherds
  • stone core & flakes
  • small stone flakes
  • animal bones
  • All 19 preceding slides were salvaged from the Henry Highway house site on the Opaskwayak First Nation Reserve.

Paul C. Thistle’s Excavation Travelling Exhibit:

Update 28 September 2021: In the course of my museology programme at the University of Winnipeg under Dr. George Lammers, in 1979 I undertook a project to construct a travelling exhibit case on archaeological excavation. This was based on my 1975 experience assisting in the excavation of a boreal forest site SIL 182 at Sandhill Bay, Southern Indian Lake in northern Manitoba. Artifacts & the equipment were supplied by the UW Archaeology Department. Viewers are encouraged to read the accompanying course paper at Excavation Travelling Exhibit Paper .

  • travenlling archaeology excavation exhibit
  • travelling exhibit case handle
  • case handle used as lid prop
  • exhibit case as intended for use on a table
  • Plexiglass display cover with label
  • dust pan & trowel excavation equipment
  • Iconic well-excavated square
  • simulated feature with broken ceramic pot
  • Lid of the travelling case with a rear projection screen
  • diagram of rear projection screen for slides


I add references to the further development of my excavation simulation for post-secondary purposes by archaeologist Dr. Shannon M. Fie, Professor of Anthropology at Beloit College, Wisconsin. See Prof. Fie’s poster presented at a session on teaching archaeology at the 2019 Society for American Archaeology conference at Fie 2015-SAA poster(1) .  Dr. Fie has made her simulation “a regular component of my introductory archaeology course. It is also proven useful in my mid-level methods course in instructing and reinforcing mapping techniques prior to conducting test excavations on campus” at Fie 2015-Digging without Dirt (Fie 2015:1-2) . Also see Quave, K., Fie, S., Greiff, A., & Agnew, D. 2021. “Centering the Margins: Knowledge Production in the Introductory Archaeology Course.” Advances in Archaeological Practice, 9 (2), 87-100 at  [scroll down from the first page.].