National Lecture Program

AIA Lecturer: Michael Blake

Affiliation: University of British Columbia

"I joined U.B.C. in 1986, a year after completing my doctorate in Anthropology, with a specialization in Archaeology, at the University of Michigan. Since then I have been studying the emergence of complex society among the ancient Mokaya people who occupied the Pacific Coast of Chiapas Mexico beginning about 3500 years ago. These people comprised some of Mexico’s earliest village societies, and developed some of the practices that later became common throughout Prehispanic Mesoamerica (for example, the ballgame played in a permanent ballcourt facility). This ongoing research documents the changes that took place as people became increasingly dependent on agriculture (including maize), lived in permanent settled communities, and developed complex social and political hierarchies. My research in Chiapas has been funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and has been carried out in partnership with Professor John Clark, Director of Brigham Young University’s New World Archaeological Foundation.
Since 1992, I have also been carrying out archaeological research in the Fraser River Valley of Southwestern British Columbia. One long-term project concentrated on the ancient village site of Scowlitz (Qithyil), located 100 km east of Vancouver within the traditional territories of the Sto:lo Coast Salish peoples. This project has contributed to our understanding of how both households and cemeteries formed an integral part of Coast Salish social, political and economic organization during the past three millennia. More recently, I have been working with a team of researchers to survey, map, and excavate at a series of archaeological sites within the Sto:lo Traditional Territory, British Columbia. This project, in partnership with Sto:lo First Nations, has as it main goal the exploration of Coast Salish identities as expressed in house structures and village settlement layouts extending from about 3000 years ago to the beginning of European colonization of the region in the mid-1800s."

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