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Maple Syrup

Maple Syrup, a story of tapping the spring trees

Maple Tap, MOA collection
Maple Tap (one of two), MOA’s Jury collection from St. Marie II site.

 

Drip…drip…drip…

Chirpchirp…chirpchirp

The sounds of spring are all around you. The ice melting and falling from the trees, the trickle of water beneath the crunchy snow, the chirp of birds newly returned and looking for food.

You and your cousin Little Bear are walking through the forest to your mother’s maple hut. Many seasons ago her mother planted maple trees so that your family could make their own maple syrup. She built a small wigwam to stay in for the time it takes to tap the maple trees and make the syrup. It is to this stand of maples that you and Little Bear are heading, about half a day’s walk from your village.

The maple hut is far into the wilderness, away from the rivers where most people live and grow food. But this forest is not empty of people. The trail to the hut passes near hunting camps, fishing spots, and other places where people from the villages come to work when the snow melts.

Finally, after a long time walking, you see the large, majestic maples looming ahead of you, and you hear the thud of stone into wood. Your mother and eldest brother have come ahead of you to get the work started.

You watch your brother skillfully cut a notch in the tree with his axe and stick a small, grooved piece of bark into the notch. Your mother places wooden bowls and pots beneath the notches to catch the slow trickle of maple water that begins to drip down.

The sap that comes out of the tree is still very watery and not very sweet. Once a bowl or pot is full you help mother set it aside on the ground. You have heard from people who live elsewhere that they use hot rocks to boil the maple water until it becomes much sweeter, but mother says that is too difficult.

What she prefers to do is to leave the bowls and pots under the roof of the maple hut so that they freeze overnight. Every morning you help her scrape the ice away. She lets the maple sap freeze and scrapes away the ice for many nights in a row until she decides that it is concentrated and sweet enough. She then dries it into cakes that can be brought back to the village.

Your family is the only one in this village that makes maple syrup. It is a rare delicacy, but people do love it when they can get it! You like it best mixed with some toasted white corn mixed with dried cranberries. This is a great food to eat while you travel to your family’s fishing camp once the leaves are all out on the trees!

But that is some time off yet. For now you take a break and watch the sap drip steadily from the tree.

Work Study Profile: Kayley

Florida Sloth
Kayley in front of a giant sloth at the Southwest Florida Museum of History during a trip to Florida this Reading Week with family
MOApicture

My name is Kayley and I am a curatorial assistant here at the Museum of Ontario Archaeology. I got the position as part of the work-study program with Western University. I also split my work-study hours with Sustainable Archaeology. I have worked at the museum since September, and have worked with Nicole since she returned as our full-time curator! I love working at the museum because I have no prior experience in a museum setting, only in cultural resource management archaeology (CRM). CRM is very different from museum work because most of the artifacts that I have experience with aren’t nearly as pretty as those that are in the museum’s collection.

So far at MOA I have learned so much about how museums work. I have been shadowing Nicole through her daily activities. A lot goes on behind the scenes here at MOA! Nicole and I have been going through artifact collections and putting them out in exhibits, plus finding additional background information on some artifacts for those exhibits. One example that always comes to mind was the day that we did research on, and weighed, iron cannon balls to see if they were equivalent to those used by the British during the War of 1812 for the current “War of 1812: The Chippewa Experience” exhibit. Unfortunately the cannonballs didn’t make the cut but the pipe tomahawks we researched did, there is still time to come and see them before the exhibit ends April 10th!

Another responsibility that I have taken on at MOA is working to organize the transfer of a large portion of the MOA collection over to Sustainable Archaeology. Sustainable Archaeology is the facility next door that houses archaeological collections from Ontario. The transfer started long before I began at MOA so it has been a fun and challenging experience to standardize the transfer.

I can’t recommend getting involved with MOA enough! I strongly believe that my experience at MOA was a contributing factor to my acceptance into a Master’s program in archaeology at Memorial University in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

Burial Investigations

An excerpt from Before and After: A Test of the Reliability of Surface Assessments of Mortuary Features by Michael W. Spence. KEWA Newsletter of the London Chapter, Ontario Archaeological Society. November & December 2013. 13-7 & 8. Page 17-23.**

There is a long history of burial investigation in Ontario. At present the discovery of possible human remains triggers a sequence of procedures required by the Coroner’s Act, the Cemeteries Act (Revised) of 1990, and the Funeral, Burial and Cremation Services Act of 2002 (see Carruthers 1999). The discovery must be reported to police and/or a coroner, who will initiate an investigation conducted by a forensic anthropologist. There are six individuals in Ontario currently approved to do these investigations. Each of us works with a Forensic Pathology Unit and a Supervising Coroner.

Forensic Excavation
Forensic Excavation – Image courtesy of Mike Spence (pictured bottom left)

The purpose of this initial investigation, done under the Coroner’s Act, is to determine if the remains are indeed human and, if so, whether they present a situation of forensic concern (if the person died within the last 50-60 years) to require a full forensic investigation. It is believed that this time span still allows the possibility of identifying the individual and, if criminal actions were involved, of bringing those responsible to justice.

The Cemeteries Act (Revised) and the Funeral, Burial and Cremation Services Act set out the requirements for those investigations that are not forensic. These usually require the services of an archaeologist and, ideally, a bioarchaeologist or forensic anthropologist. Over the past several years a set of informal but generally accepted procedures have developed for the conduct of these investigations to gain the maximum amount of information with the minimal amount of disturbance to the remains.

The area immediately around the bones is cleared, without encroaching on them, to determine whether they are in disturbed topsoil, a man-made feature like a pit or grave, or some other context. The surface of the deposit will then be cleaned, taking care not to displace any bones that are still in situ.

If the investigation has been initiated by the coroner, this limited exposure should be enough to determine if the site is of forensic concern. The Cemeteries Registrar will want to know whether the find is an “irregular burial site” (unintentionally deposited human remains), an “unapproved cemetery” or an “unapproved Aboriginal Peoples cemetery.” As part of this, data on the “cultural affiliation of the deceased” and “the style and manner in which the remains are interred” are required (Ministry of Consumer Services 1998; Carruthers 1999).

First Nations, as would be expected, may have a wide variety of responses to such finds, affected in part by their cultural background, present-day social and political concerns, and the degree of threat to the find. A common theme underlying their reactions is the desire to minimize disturbance to the bones. Beyond that, however, some are interested in learning about the deceased individuals, either because they need particular information (like the gender of the deceased) to ensure appropriate rituals, or simply because they want to know more about their ancestors. Some believe that the discovery of ancient bones is not an accident, and that the ancestors have something that they want to communicate to their descendants.

The landowner usually wants just to resolve the matter with a minimum of bother and expense. The archaeologists, on the other hand, want to know everything about the find. However, their role is limited. They can offer advice but, beyond the initial probing, cannot excavate without the agreement of the landowner and whatever First Nation the Cemeteries Registrar has appointed to act on behalf of the deceased.

REFERENCES CITED

Mike Spence
Mike Spence in protective clothing at forensic site

Carruthers, Peter
1999 The Discovery of Human Remains – Best Practices. Arch Notes 4(2):10-13.

Ministry of Consumer Services
1998 The Discovery of Human Remains – Best Practices. Toronto.

Spence, Michael W.
2011a The Mortuary  Features of teh tillsonburg Village Site. Ontario Archaeology 91:3-20.

** Read the full article here.

Women Pioneers of Archaeology

During the 19th and early 20th centuries, archaeology was digging its roots as a scientific, methodological discipline. Historically, archaeology was mainly a male dominated career and women often did not stand at the forefront of archaeological discoveries. Often women who supported the work received little public recognition making the achievements of the following women stand out all the more.

Harriet Boyd Hawes (1871-1945)

This well-educated American majored in Classical Studies and was fluent in Greek. After earning her degree, she rode around the island of Crete on the back of a mule (often alone) while looking for ancient sites. In 1901, she discovered Gournia, the first Minoan town site ever unearthed and she supervised excavations for three years. She was able to publish her findings in a highly illustrated report which is still consulted this day. She is noteworthy for her classification of artifacts and using ethnographic parallels of Cretan rural life during her time. Read more

Agatha Christie

This year’s Valentine’s Day blog is about the archaeology behind Mrs. Agatha Christie, a famous crime novelist with a strong and loving connection to archaeology.

Agatha Christie was born September 15, 1890 in the UK. In 1928, a visit to the excavation site of Ur (modern Iraq) sparked her interest in archaeology. She writes, ‘The lure of the past came up to grab me. To see a dagger slowly appearing, with its gold glint, through the sand was romantic. The carefulness of lifting pots and objects from the soil filled me with a longing to be an archaeologist myself.’ – A. Christie, An Autobiography (London, 1981), p. 389

www.allposters.com
www.allposters.com

It was during this time that she met archaeologist Max Mallowan, whom she married in 1930. Max Mallowan (1904-1978) was first an assistant to Sir Leonard Woolley at Ur and later a field director in Western Asia. He is known for conducting further excavations of the Nimrud ivories of the Assyrian kingdom 900-612 BC between 1949 and 1963.

For the next twenty years, she lived near various excavation sites in the Middle East, helping her husband. At some of the sites, Agatha cleaned and repaired artifacts, photographed, and catalogued the objects. She is credited with coming up with a preservation and cleaning technique of using her face cream and an orange stick to clean 3,000 year old ivories excavated by Mallowan in Nimrud Iraq.

These archaeology experiences and travels in Western Asia and Cairo also inspired Agatha Christie to write some of her most famous novels including Murder in Mesopotamia whose characters relate to people she knew on the dig site in Ur. She writes, “Archaeology and crime detection are similar because you have to clear away the debris to reveal the shining truth.” (CNN)

 


heart

Valentine’s day fact:
Agatha Christie is known for this witty quote, ” An archaeologist is the best husband a woman can have. The older she gets the more interested he is in her.”
In News Report 1954, her husband, archaeologist Max Mallowan attributed this quote to her, but she later denied saying it. Perhaps it was meant as a joke between the couple since Agatha Christie was in fact 15 years his senior.

MOA’s Connection:
MOA has a collection of Mesopotamian artifacts from Ur.  Our collection consists of pottery vessels, clay artefacts, and metal tools and many of the artifacts still have Woolley’s original artifact numbers written on them.

Learn more:

  • “The Life of Max Mallowan: Archaeology and Agatha Christie.” – by Henrietta McCall
  • Online tour (British Museum): Learn about objects from each of the sites that Agatha worked on and her photographs.

Battle of the Thames

The Battle of the Thames took place on October 5th, 1813 as part of the conflict of the war of 1812.

The war of 1812 began for various reasons including numerous attempted invasions from Americans into Canada. The efforts from this war helped shape Canadian independence from the United States. First Nation participants and our founding fathers were able to fight off invading American troops and establish a sense of Canadian nationalism. Between 1812 and 1813, Chief Tecumseh brought together First Nation tribes from across both sides of the border to defend native lands.

1812 Chippewa Experience

I was inspired by MOA’s new exhibit on the Chippewa’s involvement in the war of 1812 so I traveled westward to the location of the Battle of the Thames just outside of Chatham Ontario. At the site, there is a plaque citing both the battle significance and the accomplishments of Chief Tecumseh.  I was inspired to learn more about the Battle of the Thames and the circumstances leading up to it in the war.

Tecumseh
brock

 

Before the Battle of the Thames, the British and First Nations proved victorious under the collaborative leadership of Sir Isaac Brock and Shawnee Chief Tecumseh which lead to a defining  victory in the Battle of Detroit (August 16, 1812),  allying the First Nations with the British. However General Brock died months later in the Battle of Queenstown Heights on October 13th, 1812.

A new British General, Sir Henry Proctor was soon instated. He did not treat Tecumseh with the same respect as Gen. Brock nor did he face Battles with the same charisma and power, causing tension between the two leaders.

The height of their tension came in May of 1813 when Americans tried to rush Fort Meigs, taken by Proctor and Tecumseh only four days earlier. Six hundred Americans were killed or captured, at which point First Nations attacked the captured Americans, killing twenty of them by the time Tecumseh arrived and stopped the slaughter. (This battle was similar to the River Raisin massacre fought by Gen. Proctor in January 1813. Proctor had promised safety to the Americans but then commanded the British and First Nation soldiers to slaughter them.) At the end of the Fort Meigs battle, Proctor told Tecumseh that his people can’t be controlled. Tecumseh, knowing his people were acting under command of Proctor responded by telling the General that he was not fit for command. Proctor proved Tecumseh’s point again five days later by abandoning siege.

On October 4, 1813, the night before the Battle of the Thames, Tecumseh told those First Nation leaders who gathered;  ‘“Brother warriors, we are about to enter into an engagement from which I shall never return. My body will remain on the field of battle.’ He then gave a sword the British had gifted him to another man and said; ‘When my son becomes a noted warrior, give him this.”

Battle-of-the-Thames-array

The Battle of the Thames held only 950-1000 British and First Nations against 3500 Americans. Tecumseh at this point did not trust Proctor, which was later justified after Proctor only sent one British Battalion with only one single six pound cannon to battle. Regardless, that afternoon Tecumseh held strong and rode into battle with his Deputy Oshawahnah the Chief of the Chippewa leading forces from the Shawnee, Ottawa, Delaware, Wyandot and the Sac, Fox, Kickapoo, Winnebag, Potwatomi, and Creek Tribes, about 500 in all. Tecumseh died in battle with circumstances surrounding his death remaining a mystery. Proctor later fled battle to rejoin his family in nearby Moraviantown. He tried to blame his men for the loss of the Battle of the Thames, but that did not save him from disgrace, being suspended from rank and pay for six months.

To the Americans, the Battle of the Thames avenged the atrocities General Proctor lead on the American Captives during the River Raisin Massacre. The battle neutralized Anglo-First Nation threat and proved Tecumseh to be an irreplaceable loss to the war.

As I walked through the forest and along the river bank, I found it hard to visualize the former battlefield. The entire place was eerily peaceful, and it was hard to believe that the same spot I was walking was once a firing ground. The stop along the highway is simple at best, nothing remains of its bloody past, but the feeling you get when you  are in the same spot the Tecumseh took his last stand, completely surrounded by history, is simply amazing.

If you are interested in visiting the Battle of the Thames site, the directions are as follows:

From the east – from Highway 401 heading west, merge onto Highway 402 West towards Sarnia. Take Exit 86, and turn right onto County Road 2/Longwoods Road towards Melbourne/Delaware. Continue on County Road 2/Longwoods Road until you arrive at the road closure.

From the south/west – from Highway 401 heading east, take Exit 109 and turn left onto Victoria Road/County Road 17/County Road 21 (signs for County Road 21 North/Victoria Road). Turn right onto London Road/Longwoods Road (signs for County Road 2 East), and continue on Longwoods Road until you arrive at the road closure.

- Written by MOA Curatorial Staff

Wampum


Wampum belts 1812 exhibit

What are wampums?

Wampums are visual memory keepers that help record history and communicate ideas. Beaded patterns represent a person, nation, event, invitation, shared values and understandings/agreements between two or more parties.  Traditional wampum belts were used as covenants and petitions for understanding. Words spoken during an agreement are made into wampum to be used for ceremony, teaching, and reminders of law and values.

Who do they belong to?

Wampums belong to the Iroquois Confederacy, or Haudenosaunee. The beads are from the Atlantic coast. The Wampanoag People along the American east coast around Boston, MA traded in Wampum with the Haudenosaunee. Ancient wampums are often replicated for educational purposes and to protect their fragility since some date back to before European contact in Canada. For example, the “War of 1812: The Chippewa Experience” is a feature exhibit at MOA on display until April 2015. It features three replica wampum belts from the late 1700s and early 1800s.

Chippewa Exhibit 1812
War of 1812: The Chippewa Experience – Exhibit on display at MOA until April 2015
1812 Chippewa Experience
War of 1812: The Chippewa Experience – Exhibit on display at MOA until April 2015

 

What are wampum strings?

Wampum strings can be used to invite other nations to meetings. They include the topic that the meeting will discuss based on the colour of beads and number of strings. At the end of the strings is a wooden stick with notches which tells when the meeting will take place. Notches are cut off after each passing day until none remain. This marks the meeting date.

Wampum strings can also signify a position of honour. Clan Mothers or Chiefs are passed down a special wampum string from the previous leader. Carrying their own wampum string shows their place in the community as a leader.

What are they made of?

Wampum beads are made of two different shells: the quahog and white welk shell. Quahog clam shells are purple or black in colour and represent war and suffering while welk shells are symbols of power, peace, goodness and friendship.

Shell beads are used because shells retain words spoken over it and pass these words on from generation to generation.

Beads are hand made by breaking the shell, drilling a hole, and grinding it into a tubular shape. It is  a long and delicate process.

What do they symbolize?

Today, the people who can read wampum belts are recognized as oral historians and storytellers. They have apprenticed to learn this knowledge and often how to make wampum beads.

The Hiawatha Belt

Image source: Popular Science Monthly Volume 28
Image source: Popular Science Monthly Volume 28

The Hiawatha belt is one of the most recognized wampum. It symbolizes the agreement between the 5 original Haudenosaunee nations and their promise to support each other in unity. The central symbol is a tree (representing the Onondaga Nation – where the Peacemaker planted the Tree of Peace and under which the leaders of the Five Nations buried their weapons). Four white squares from left to right represent the Seneca, Cayuga, Oneida, and Mohawk tribes. Lines extending from the tribes stand for a path which other nations may follow if they agree to live in peace and join the Confederacy.

 

Two Row Wampum (Kaswehntha)

Tworowwampum

This wampum is a 17th century treaty with the Dutch (when Europeans asked to live on the land). It symoblizes cooperation and serving a common interest. Two rows of purple are separated by three white rows. The white symoblize peace, a good mind, and strength. The wampum belt as a whole symbolizes one river with two vessels (the purple lines) traveling side by side. One purple line/vessel is a ship, representing the Dutch and another is a canoe, the Haudenosaunee. Inside each vessel are the people, traditions, laws, and ways of life. These two lines (or nations) are distinct and have a right to steer their own vessel without interference.

Dish with One Spoon

Wampum belts 1812 exhibit
Dish with One Spoon wampum (top left corner) from 1812 exhibit

This wampum belt is one of the most significant belts because it represents the first peace treaty made in North America between all Native nations before European contact. (Made between the League of Five Nations and its allies, and the confederacy of Anishinabek and allied nations). The dish with one spoon reminds people we only have one dish, one mother earth we can take from. We should take only what we need, leave something for others, and keep the dish clean. It also demonstrates our collective responsibility to share equally.

 

How can I learn more?

Wampum bead craft
Wampum bead workshop craft

Visiting groups can book a tour at MOA to learn about Wampums and make a wampum craft with a partner, learning about and creating an non-written wampum agreement.

 

Sources consulted:

A special Thank You to Dr. Mary Lou Smoke & Dr. Dan Smoke for their review of this information and providing further knowledge 

 

 

 

 

Lizard Pipes

In his 1914 archaeology report on Ontario Effigy Pipes in Stone, Col. Geo. E. Laidlaw writes about the unique Lizard Pipe specimens in Ontario, of which we have on display in our permanent exhibit with a unique provenance.

Lizard Pipes are ” nearly always a white or light-gray stone, [of] steatite and limestone.” Steatite pipes, being a stronger material, have held their carved features better than the softer limestone. Col. Laidlaw distinguishes two categories of effigy pipes:

“1st, Long slender stemmed pipes, with effigies, either human or lizard, clasping the front of the bowl, with head projecting above rim, and when the effigy is a lizard the tail extends along underside of stem. Sometimes only the human head is represented (in one case an animal) perched on edge of bowl.
2nd, Stemless bowls of an ovoid or vase type, with the effigies clasping, or crawling up the bowl on the opposite side of the stem hole. In this second division, so far as observed, the effigies are those of lizards, with one exception.” **

Stemmed Lizard Pipe
Stemmed Lizard Pipe
Source: Ontario Effigy Pipes in Stone.
Stemless lizard pipe
Stemless Lizard Pipe Source: Ontario Effigy Pipes in Stone.

The 1st style is on display in our permanent exhibit with the Lawson Site artifacts, accompanied by this news article:

“Rare Indian Lizard Pipe Given to the University Museum”
-  January 1943 – London Free Press news article.

Long known and coveted by collectors throughout the country, and also the subject of articles by various archaeologists in recent years, an Indian Lizard pipe of unique design has just been acquired by the Museum of Indian Archaeology at the University of Western Ontario. The pipe was originally found on the Lawson Prehistoric Village site near London, originally known as the Shaw Woods Estate. Historians have found abundant evidence of an Indian Village existing on this spot and dating back before the French explorers arrived in the 17th century. The Lizard pipe was found here by the late John Sonly, farm manager, half a century ago, while digging up a large elm root. It is of grey limestone. With the stem three inches long. The stem has a lizard clinging to it, and in front of the bowl a human head faces away from the smoker – a variation from the usual design in such pipes, where the head normally faces the person using the pipe. Col. G.E. Laidlaw, in an article on “Effigy Pipes in Stone,” appearing in the 1923 Archaeological Report, Department of Education, Ontario, says the pipe, […] is attributed to the Attiwandaron tribe. It was for many years in possession of Mr. Schreiber, of London, daughter of Mr. Sonly, who found it. It was sold by Mrs. Schreiber to W.H. Coverdale, president of the Canada Steamship Lines, who has now presented it to the University of Western Ontario where its advent is a cause of much pride to Wilfrid Jury, curator of the Museum.

** Images and further descriptions can be found in the digital version of the paper at: https://archive.org/details/ontarioeffigypip00laid

Gloves or no gloves?

Glove: Fact or Fiction

To wear gloves or not to wear gloves? This is a question archaeologist and historians have been debating for decades. Traditionally gloves were used when handling all artifacts, but new evidence suggests that wearing gloves might actually do more harm than good.

Read the following statements and try to determine whether they are  fact, or just a myth! Once you have your answer, scroll down to see if you are correct!

Good luck!

#1: People have oils in their skin that can be harmful to artifact(s) they handle.

#2: You don’t need to wear gloves when handling manuscripts, touching them is actually good!

#3:  You need to wear gloves when handling all textiles and furniture, the wood and fabric will decay if you touch it.

#4:  All gloves do the same thing, and provide the same protection.

#5: Wearing gloves is necessary when handling bone

Jesuit Artifacts

Answers:

#1: People have oils in their skin that can be harmful to artifact(s) they handle. Answer: Fact!

While you might not be able to see it, these oils can leave a film on artifacts that deteriorate over time and damage the artifacts. Skin secretes oils, salts, and other wastes that react with certain materials. For example, something as simple as a finger print on a piece of metal can cause corrosion and irreversible damage. The damage can take weeks, and sometimes decades! (Be careful with that coin collection!)

 #2: You don’t need to wear gloves when handling manuscripts, touching them is actually good! Answer: Fact!

The necessity of wearing gloves when handling manuscripts is a common misconception.  Manuscripts are not typically made out of paper like modern books, but rather a material called vellum.  Vellum is a form of paper that was commonly used throughout the Middle and Early Modern ages.  It is made out of calf skin and could be made into many shapes and sizes to produce scrolls, letters, and large books. The process of turning the skin into vellum involves: cleaning, bleaching, and stretching the skin into the desired shape, and finishing it with a treatment of lime or chalk to help keep the ink from bleeding. If the manuscript is made of vellum, the oils in your hands are actually good for replenishing the moisture in the material which can harden and become brittle with age. It is recommended that manuscripts are handled at least a few times per year by clean dry hands in order to help keep the pages from breaking.

Fun Fact: All declarations made by the British Parliament are still printed on vellum!

#3:  You need to wear gloves when handling all textiles and furniture, the wood and fabric will decay if you touch it. Answer: Myth!

While gloves are required for handling most textiles and wooden artifacts, gloves are not always the safest option. When dealing with small wooden artifacts, or furniture pieces, the gloves can cause the handler to lose their grip on the artifact as the make an already slippery surface even slipperier. When deciding whether or not to wear gloves one must always weigh the pros and cons; sometimes no gloves are the safest bet!

#4: All gloves do the same thing, and provide the same protection. Answer: Myth!

There are many different kinds of gloves that are used for different kinds of material, and these gloves have different purposes. The two main types of gloves used in museums and archives are:

  • Disposable vinyl or latex gloves: These are non-absorbent, making them good for objects that are dusty; they are also useful when dealing with artifacts that have a rough surface as they have no fibers that can get caught.  These types of gloves can also give the handler more grip on a smooth artifact.
  • Cotton gloves: These are good for clean objects that are not very rough or very smooth. However, there has been a shift amongst museologists and archivists recently that discredits the use of this type of glove– as their thickness and seams can restrict feeling, and the gloves don’t stop moisture and sweat from leaving the handler’s hands!

#5: Wearing gloves is necessary when handling bone. Answer: Fact!

Whenever bones of any kind are being handled it is nessissary to wear gloves, not only for the artifacts protection, but also for the handlers. Bones can contain bacteria, while most of the time the bacteria has vanished, traces can still be present which can get someone sick! Further, bones are sensitive material that can be deteriorated by the oils in your hands.

Conclusion:

We hope you did well on the Fact or Myth and that you learned a lot about the artifact handling process. Feel free to get your (bare) hands on some artifacts with our Education Programs or our hands-on displays in MOA’s permanent exhibit.

In case you were still wondering, below is the complete list of artifacts that require gloves before handling based on guidelines set by the Museum Of London. (But remember, when it comes to gloves it is best to use your own judgment to determine what is the safest way to handle an artifact!)

  • All metals
  • Painted furniture
  • Lacquered or gilded surfaces
  • Anything made from plaster
  • Taxidermy
  • Geological specimens
  • Plastics
  • Photographic items
  • Unglazed ceramics
  • Human and animal remains