Some like it hot

Exploring the archaeobotany of roasting features in southern British Columbia

  • Natasha Lyons Ursus Heritage Consulting; Simon Fraser University
  • Anna Marie Prentiss Department of Anthropology, University of Montana
  • Sandra Peacock c. Emerita, Department of Community, Culture, and Global Studies, University of British Columbia—Okanagan
  • Bill Angelbeck Douglas College
Keywords: Salish Peoples, Earth oven, Root food, Geophyte, Southern British Columbia, Northwest Coast Archaeology, Archaeobotany, Palaeoethnobotany


Roasting features, also known as earth ovens, have been used by First Nations Peoples since the late Holocene to cook food for both immediate consumption and winter storage. Across southern British Columbia, earth ovens built by Salish communities in low and mid elevation meadows and riverine villages were part of carefully coordinated, multi-layered annual patterns of movement within the landscape to harvest and produce food. In this paper, we examine the patterning of floral—and to a lesser extent, faunal—data from earth oven complexes located in four village and four upland sites, finding differences between assemblages that appear to relate to the nature and diversity of use between site types. Our preliminary results support the contention that earth ovens in village contexts were used in more ways, and potentially by a wider array of cooks, than those in upland contexts. This analysis forms a first step towards a larger and more detailed study of earth oven technologies and use across southern British Columbia.