Archaeological Collections

Who owns the collections in the Laboratory of Archaeology?

Archaeological collections in the care of the LOA are stored in the Museum of Anthropology (MOA) building but are not part of the museum collections.  The LOA does not own most of the materials it curates, rather it acts as a repository for collections held in trust for the province of British Columbia and indigenous peoples.  Day-to-day management of the collections is carried out by the LOA Manager.

What are In-Trust Relationships?

The LOA recognizes that it is the custodian of archaeological materials including cultural materials and ancestral remains for the province and for indigenous peoples.  Archaeological materials are held by LOA in trust until such materials are repatriated and/or legally transferred.

Liaison with Indigenous Peoples

As temporary custodians of indigenous peoples’ cultural material and ancestral remains, LOA recognizes its responsibility to develop close working relationships with indigenous peoples, groups and organizations that have a claim to, or interest in, the cultural material and ancestral remains in LOA’s care.

In cases where the LOA is aware that an indigenous people has an interest in a particular collection, and where that interest has been communicated to LOA in writing, LOA will inform the indigenous people of any significant addition or change to the collection.  Indigenous peoples may contact the LOA Director or LOA Manager at any time to express their interest in materials from specific collections or sites.

The LOA will use best efforts to ensure that ancestral remains and archaeological materials found in association with such ancestral remains are not exhibited in any public venue of the LOA, the Department of Anthropology, or in any exhibition sponsored by LOA, without permission from all relevant indigenous peoples.

How was material in LOA collections obtained?

The collections in the LOA are largely the result of research investigations carried out in British Columbia by present and past archaeological faculty and graduate students. Almost all materials deposited in the LOA since 1962 were obtained under provincial archaeological permits HCA Permits and/or Cultural Heritage Permits.  Some collections were obtained before the existence of the British Columbia permit system (i.e., 1961).

How is material added to the collections?

LOA is not a general repository for archaeological material (unlike the Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria) and LOA’s collection storage facilities have limited capacity.

The LOA  may agree to curate additional collections or materials under the following conditions:

  1. the materials are from sites that are best represented in collections currently under the care of the LOA and are not more fully represented in the collections in other institutions;
  2. there is room to store the additional materials, within the LOA facilities;
  3. the interested indigenous peoples have officially expressed a desire to have the LOA curate the additional collection, either to the Archaeology Branch of the LOA; and
  4. the materials have been recovered under HCA Permits and/or Cultural Heritage Permits, as applicable.

The LOA will not accept additional collections of ancestral remains unless all of the above conditions have been met, and before granting an HCA Permit, the Archaeology Branch obtained official resolutions (e.g., a Band/Council Resolution or equivalent) from all interested indigenous peoples, requesting that the LOA act as the temporary repository for the collection.

What materials are in the collections in LOA?

If the above conditions are met, LOA will accept:  artifacts, ecofacts; soil and faunal samples and all field and research documentation including: site records, catalogues, field notes, photographs and and photographic records.

The LOA will not accept additional collections of ancestral remains unless all of the above conditions have been met and Band Council Resolutions have been received from all interested aboriginal groups requesting that the LOA act as the temporary repository for the collection.

Are the collections policies and procedures in the LOA subject to extra-university legislation and policy?

All cultural materials and ancestral remains cared for in the LOA will be treated in conformity with all relevant federal and provincial legislation governing such items and any protocols established by LOA with indigenous peoples.

LOA policy adheres to the UBC Research Ethics Policy.

How can I find out about specific collections?

Requests for information about materials in the LOA collections should be addressed to the LOA Manager.

LOA Policies and Procedures

The LOA Committee regularly reviews its collection management procedures and policies.

Storage Guidelines

All materials, regardless of antiquity or geographic origin, are treated with respect and carefully stored in LOA’s secure facilities.

Materials collected under permit

LOA curates materials collected under permit by UBC faculty and students in the course of their academic research and LOA may agree to act as repository for materials from archaeological resource assessment and mitigation projects under these conditions: (1) the materials are from sites that are best represented in collections in the care of LOA and are not more fully represented in the collections of other institutions; (2) LOA has room to store the additional materials; (3) all interested indigenous peoples have officially expressed a desire to have LOA curate the additional collection, either to the Archaeology Branch or to LOA; and (4) the materials have been recovered under HCA Permits and/or indigenous peoples’ Cultural Heritage Permits, as applicable.

LOA will not accept additional collections of ancestral remains unless all of the above conditions have been met, and provided that, before issuing a HCA Permit, the Archaeology Branch obtained official resolutions or equivalent from all interested indigenous peoples requesting that the LOA act as the temporary repository for the ancestral remains.

Materials not collected under permit

Archaeological materials that were collected or received by donation prior to the enactment of the Heritage Conservation Act, RSBC 1996, Chapter 187, are subject to the terms of this policy insofar as possible, however, the exact legal status of such materials is not clear.

Repository Guidelines for Archaeologists

The LOA Guide “Deposits to LOA, UBC Repository for Archaeologists” outlines steps for archaeologists requesting LOA act as repository on a permit application.  Contact the LOA Manager as questions arise.

The Guide also provides information regarding: LOA’s repository fees, fields used in LOA’s artifact database, LOA’s method of applying artifact numbers to artifacts; measurement guides for lithics, beads and ceramics, and Glossaries of terms used in LOA’s database to describe Ceramic; Faunal; Floral; Glass; Lithic; Metal; Plastic and Textile material types.