Location and Environment * Chinookan Culture * Chinookan Material Culture

Site Chronology * The Plankhouse * The Meier Site Excavations * Features * Artifact Photo Gallery


Here you see an area of the Meier site under excavation. The trench you see is two meters (six feet) wide and six meters (20 feet) long. You can see a number of circular storage pits being excavated; these would have been beneath the wooden floor of the plankhouse, serving as a sort of cellar. Note the heavy concentration of artifacts in the walls of the trench: nearly all are worked rocks, bones, antler or other items. The site was very rich in artifacts, producing over 15,000 items. More than 300 features (such as hearths, pits and postholes) were also recorded.

The Meier site plankhouse was excavated under the direction of K.M. Ames from 1987 to 1991 (inclusive). Roughly 35% of the interior of the plankhouse was exposed in these excavations, which focused on delineating architectural features and facilities in order to understand site formation processes, as well as sampling the long axis of the plankhouse.

The above illustration shows the layout of excavation units, the plankhouse outline as indicated by a variety of structural features and artifact distributions, and the distribution of bench, pit and hearth deposits.

Excavation was carried out with shovel and trowel, at first excavating by natural stratigraphy, and then by cultural strata, such that after the plowzone was removed, cultural features such as pits and postmolds were excavated and recorded separately from the surrounding matrix. Elevations were taken with line level, measuring from a known site datum elevation established by theodolite from USGS maps. Screening was through 1/4-inch and 1/8 inch screens. There was no wet-screening on site, but large volumes of bulk samples were collected; these are currently being water-screened in the lab for a variety of botanical, faunal and lithic studies.

Roughly 15-30 people worked each season at the Meier site, all being students of the Portland State University Archaeological Field School. Professor Kenneth M. Ames acted as excavation director and site supervisor, while Stephen Hamilton and Doria Raetz were crew chiefs.

You can examine some of the stratigraphy encountered at the site in the illustations below. Each illustration presents typical stratigraphy per 'architectural facility' -- that is, we presend typical strata from hearth, bench, cellar and midden areas (you can learn more about these here. Click on the image of the stratigraphy you wish to examine.

Cellar (pit)
Hearth StratigraphyMidden

Slightly modified FROM:

The Nature and Spatial Distribution of Activities in a Proto-Historic Northwest Coast Plankhouse

K. M. Ames and C. McPherson Smith

Draft work in progress, January 2000.

Click HERE for an online version of this report (including bibliographic references).

This website created and maintained by Cameron M. Smith.