Bryn Letham

About me: I’m a post-doctoral researcher in the Department of Archaeology at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. My primary area of research is the Northwest Coast of North America. I study human-environment interactions at the landscape level by exploring the intersection of long-term settlement histories and environmental changes to understand how they influence and become entangled with each other, and how certain engagements with the landscape can be generative of new aspects of social organization. I am interested in studying shoreline change, broadly writ: both ‘naturally-’driven shoreline change resulting from shifting sea levels and other geomorphological processes, and ‘culturally-’ driven shoreline change resulting from human modifications of coastal landforms. I work to reconstruct local histories of post-glacial relative sea level change on the north Coast of British Columbia in order to survey for archaeological sites associated with paleoshorelines to understand how people occupied dynamic coastal landscapes of shifting shore elevations. I also study how the ancient inhabitants of the Northwest Coast themselves dramatically altered shoreline landforms through the deposition of vast amounts of shell and other cultural sediments to effectively construct idealized habitation places.


In addition to my ongoing research in Tsimshian territories on the northern Northwest Coast I have conducted research on settlement patterns, mortuary archaeology, and thousands of tiny ground stone disc beads in the territory of the shíshálh First Nation on the Sunshine Coast in southern British Columbia. I have also worked for several years helping colleagues from the University of Toronto on a survey and excavation project focusing on early Neolithic sites in the wadis of northwest Jordan.

As well as my archaeological research I have a passion for Middle Eastern and Central Asian history, geopolitics, and food, and I have spent much time travelling in those regions. I provide several photo galleries of my favourite places as part of this website.

Research Key Words: Northwest Coast Archaeology, geoarchaeology, landscape and settlement archaeology, coastal archaeology, human-environment interactions, paleoenvironmental reconstructions, relative sea level change, hunter-gatherer studies, shell-bearing sites, archaeological survey methods, diatoms, Middle Eastern and Central Asian history and geopolitics.


2017 PhD, Department of Anthropology, University of British Columbia

2011 MSc, Department of Anthropology, University of Toronto

2008 BA (Honours), Department of Anthropology, University of British Columbia

Hiking to an excavation in Wadi Quseiba, Jordan


Coring a lake near Hartley Bay, British Columbia, to study relative sea level change.


Wandering the pyramids of Nuri, Sudan.


Standing in an ancient pithouse depression in the northern interior of British Columbia.