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Tse’K’wa (Charlie Lake Cave)

Tse’K’wa (HbRf-39, also known as Charlie Lake Cave), has been visited by people for more than 12,000 years, and this site now preserves a record of human activity that starts with some of the first people to live in the Peace River region, when the last ice age was coming to an end, and concludes with the construction of the Alaska Highway in the 1940’s.

Archaeological excavations at Tse'K'wa were undertaken by Simon Fraser University in 1974 and 1983 (director: Knut Fladmark) and 1990 and 1991 (co-directors: Knut Fladmark and Jon Driver). Research on materials recovered during these excavations has continued to the present day.

This online archive provides information about the excavations and subsequent analyses undertaken at the site of Tse’K’wa, focusing on the excavations of 1974, 1983, 1990 and 1991. The digital archive contains three kinds of information. First are the primary records from the excavations. These include written records made when the site was being excavated, such as standardized forms that were filled out by excavators, notebooks written during the excavation, photographs and colour slides taken during excavations, and drawings made of strata or features. Second are descriptive data sets, mainly descriptions of artifacts and animal bones made by graduate students who worked on materials from HbRf-39 for their M.A. theses and other researchers. These usually include a spreadsheet, together with a key that explains the descriptors used and the relevant codes that are entered in the spreadsheets. Other descriptive data sets include radiocarbon dates, and descriptions of sediments, stratigraphy, and stratigraphic zones. Third are interpretive documents that use the data from excavations and post-excavation analyses to draw conclusions about the history of humans and environments in the Peace River region. These include reports made to government agencies, student theses, unpublished documents, and copies of some (but not all) publications that are reproduced with the permission of the publishers. For each category of records there is an introductory document that provides context for the user of the archive.

Users of the archive should be aware that information and interpretations have changed over time. For example, we have acquired more radiocarbon dates through the years, we changed our interpretation of the stratigraphy after the 1991 season, and we have analyzed more and more material as the years have gone by.

The archaeological research at the site has been published in many places that are not easily accessible to members of the general public. And few people would have access to much of the basic research materials reproduced here unless they could visit the physical collection that includes documentation, photographs, drawings and the artifacts and other finds. For the modern First Nations people whose ancestors lived at Tse'K'wa this is particularly problematic. Working in collaboration with the Tse’K’wa Heritage Society, who own the land on which Tse'K'wa is located, we intend to make the results of our research accessible and understandable to the general reader, as well as more specialized researchers.


Mainly description and analysis of lithic artifacts with brief notes on bone artifacts.
Black and white photos are organized by roll number and negative number of 35 mm negatives in the physical archives. Some photos…
Colour slides taken in 1983, 1990 and 1991, primarily by Knut Fladmark and Jonathan Driver, of the excavations at Tse'K…
Information about how the site was excavated, and PDF copies of original excavation records.
Records related to faunal remains excavated at Tse'K'wa, including a master catalogue of all faunal data.
Introductory and background information for the Tse'K'wa Collection
Plans and section drawings for the excavations at Tse'K'wa.
Information on radiocarbon dates.
Reports, theses and list of publications about archaeological site HbRf-39.
Information on site sediments.