Iain McKechnie

Iain McKechnie
Assistant Professor

PhD University of British Columbia


On leave

Office: Cornett B246a

Accepting both MA and PhD students for Fall 2020.

I am a coastal archaeologist interested in the history of food and settlement as a medium for understanding human-environmental relations on the Pacific Northwest Coast. I am a specialist in zooarchaeology (the archaeology of animal bones) and historical ecology (contextualizing modern ecosystem observations with those from well before the 20th or 21st centuries). I am also keen on cartography, visualization of archaeological data, and digital archaeological techniques and technologies.

My research focuses on the human use of animals, with a particular concentration on fish, shellfish, and marine mammals along the British Columbia Coast. I explore how these ancient records broaden contemporary perspectives on present day resource management challenges and the legacy of Indigenous settlement, use, and care for coastal environments.

I am a new faculty member and began my position in January 2016 with the support of the Tula Foundation. I will be participating in research with the Hakai Institute’s marine science programs as well as conducting ongoing fieldwork out of the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre in Nuu-chah-nulth territories in Barkley Sound along the west coast of Vancouver Island.


  • Coastal Archaeology
  • Zooarchaeology
  • Historical Ecology
  • Northwest Coast
  • Fisheries

Current projects

These Outer Shores

I am a guest editor of a recently published special issue of BC Studies entitled: “These Outer Shores: Archaeological Insights into Indigenous Lifeways Along the Exposed Coasts of British Columbia” which features nine papers about Indigenous history and archaeology along the outer coast of British Columbia as well as a photo essay.

The papers rebut the common misconception that the western edge of Canada was a sparsely populated coastal wilderness. The volume also highlights changing sea levels, human settlement dynamics, fish and shellfish harvesting, whaling, and the integration of Indigenous oral history with archaeology.

Portions of the volume, including the introductory chapter can be accessed online at:


Digital Zooarchaeology

Zooarchaeologists are increasingly employing digital technologies in their research into the archaeological history of the human use of animals. I served as editor for a special issue of Ethnobiology Letters which highlights a series of new technological approaches to collection, analysis, and data integration in zooarchaeology. This collection of open access articles builds upon papers presented during a symposium at the International Council for Archaeozoology Conference held in San Rafael, Mendoza Province, Argentina in September 2014.

Each paper in the volume, including the introductory essay can be accessed online at: http://ojs.library.ubc.ca/index.php/bcstudies/issue/view/182536


Edited volumes

Articles and chapters