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Staff Profile: Digital Content Creators

Meet MOA’s newest staff: Our Digital Content Creators

Hello, my name is Jordan T. Downey and I am working at MOA as an Archaeology Digital Content Creator.
Hello readers! My name is Katrina Pasierbek and I am thrilled to join the Museum of Ontario Archaeology staff as the Digital Content Creator for Education.

We are both creating some great digital content to enhance your online MOA experience.

Jordan Downey
Jordan Downey, MOA Archaeology Digital Content Creator 2015

Jordan:
Over the next few months I will be writing material for the museum’s website so that you can learn more about Ontario archaeology both before and after your visit to the museum. I plan to write a series of posts about how and why we do archaeology in Ontario and how people lived at the Lawson Site and other sites like it. I also plan to invite prominent and up-and-coming Ontario archaeologists to contribute to our website with some of their own projects and experiences.

A little bit about Jordan:

I have been doing archaeology for 10 years now, both as an academic researcher and working for archaeological consulting companies. In that time I completed a field school at the Princess Point site in Hamilton and have surveyed and excavated at dozens of sites throughout Ontario. I hold an archaeology research license from the Ontario Ministry of Culture, Tourism, and Sport.

Besides working on archaeology consulting teams in Ontario, I have completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Toronto, my M.A at Trent University, and I am currently completing my Ph.D at Western University. My Ph.D. research uses satellite photos to determine when and how major political changes took place in northern Peru.

I have been fortunate to get to travel to a lot of museums and archaeological sites around the world. One of my favourites is the site museum at Cahokia. Cahokia is a large, impressive, and very important archaeological site in southern Illinois and is an absolute must-see. The museum is very well done. Besides lots of incredible artifacts and informative displays, they have done a very good job of showing how archaeologists study the past and how we make interpretations about what life was like at a North American city 1500 years ago.

Katrina:
I will be spending the next three months creating educational lesson plans tailored to the programming currently offered at the MOA. We hope to extend the learning of our young visitors back into the classroom with pre- and post-museum visit lessons and activities.

Katrina Paiserbek
Katrina Paiserbek, MOA Education Digital Content Creator

A little about Katrina:
My formal education coupled with my experience working in museums will prove to be an asset for my position here at the MOA. After becoming an Ontario certified teacher I completed my Master of Arts degree in History at Western University. I am also a researcher for the First World War exhibit ‘Souterrain Impressions’, scheduled to launch in April 2015. *Click the link to see an exciting video! 
I also work at Eldon House, and volunteer at Banting House National Historic Site of Canada.

An interesting fact about me is that I was featured in a 2013 short documentary entitled “For the Dead and the Living.” Three filmmakers from Western University followed myself and fifteen other Canadian teachers to Kraków, Poland where we learned how to translate the lessons of the Holocaust to Canadian students. This experience allowed us the opportunity to visit Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum, which is by far the most moving museum I have visited.

Work Study Profile: Falon


Education Assistant Falon Fox

Name: Falon Fox

How long have you been a work study student at MOA?  Since the beginning of November 2014.

What is your job title and what do you do? I am an education assistant, which means I assist in the educational programming of the classes/guests who sign up for activities. So far I have mostly been involved with the preparation phase but I am looking forward to the artifacts and tour portion of the programming schedule!

What led you to this position? The background I have for this position is my undergraduate career at Western. While studying history extensively over the past five years, it’s enabled me to memorize facts quite easily, which will of course come in handy for the artifacts and tour component of my job.

What inspired you to work at MOA? I have always wanted to work in a museum; the experience would be extremely valuable for future job opportunities. To have a job that I not only enjoy but also relevant to my future career is priceless.

What do you love about being a staff member at MOA? I absolutely love the people who work with me, they are incredibly helpful and patient which makes me excited to come to work every week! Though I haven’t quite done it yet I have a feeling that my favourite part of the job would be the artifacts and tour portion of the program.

 If there was one thing you could tell the world about MOA, what would it be? Great People, Great Stories, fun experience!

What advice can you give others?  Say to yourself: “I will try my best” and then everything will fall into place.

When you’re not at work, what do you enjoy doing? I love watching movies whether it be from the Hollywood or Bollywood industry. I also love to write in my spare time  and read plenty of books.

 Have you had some memorable experiences at MOA in your time here? If I laugh then the experience is memorable and I have already had a few at MOA.

Volunteering at MOA – What’s in it for you!

PowWow Volunteers 2014
Pow Wow 2014 volunteers at one of our community activity tables

Why volunteer at MOA, when so many organizations are seeking volunteer support? Why spend your most valuable asset, time, with us? In truth, this isn’t an easy question to answer because it depends on your interests and what you hope to gain from your volunteer experience. At MOA, we strive to give you a unique experience that not only meets your needs, but makes a real difference at the museum.

Archaeology brings the stories of how people lived to life and connects us to our shared human heritage. This gives us a sense of place in the world and helps us understand and appreciate each other more. At MOA, we are expanding our programs, making more of our collection accessible online, and developing new ways to engage people. We want to share Ontario’s archaeological heritage with as many people as possible. And we need volunteers to help make this happen.

Because archaeology is about people, we believe your volunteer experience should benefit you as much as it does us. As a volunteer, there are many different ways you can get involved. Have you considered?

• Getting kids excited about archaeology and First Nations’ history by helping with our many programs.
• Creating a welcoming and fun atmosphere through our visitor services and special events.
• Protecting our archaeological discoveries by helping catalogue and care for MOA’s collections.

Winter Event Volunteers
Volunteers assisting with parking and visitor services at our Winter Village Family Fun Day 2014.
Pow Wow volunteers 2014
Volunteer Greeters at our 2014 Pow Wow

 

The benefits you get from your volunteer experience depend on why you decided to volunteer in the first place. Everyone has different reasons for

volunteering, but the most common we’ve heard are:

• To learn about archaeology and First Nations’ history
• To develop job skills and experience
• To get to know new people
• To give back to their community in a meaningful way

Whatever your reason, we match your interests and goals with ours, creating a unique volunteer opportunity designed just for you. But don’t just take our word for it.

Check out what some of our volunteers are saying and then contact us to find out how you can get involved!

Click on History

The Museum of Ontario Archaeology is proud to launch our new online catalogue. The Online Catalogue connects our collection to the community anytime and anywhere, enhancing our accessibility and promoting a shared knowledge. For the past two years, our curatorial staff have been working on digitizing our collection, a task that carries on today. Their hard work and dedication places objects into a searchable database based categories such as Object Name, Search Term, Accession #, and Collection.

Online collection screenshot

How to browse the collection: Click & Search or hit the Random Image button, however, if you are looking for a more specific object or image, use the Keyword Search or Advanced Search functions to find a range of similar objects relating to your search.

You will be able to find a wide range of objects representing all that our museum has to offer. However, certain objects will not be added to the online database for reasons such as copyright or in respect of the object’s religious or spiritual significance.

Currently we have over 1000 ethnographic materials, archaeological artifacts, and photographs that make up the online collection. Categories include different styles of projectile points, moccasins, bags/pouches, and baskets. Our database will be continually updated as more records become digitized and available.

So why should you check this out? Our online collection allows you to go behind the scenes into our storage room and interact with objects that are not on permanent display. With our photography collection online, you can experience life from the 1850’s to the late 20th century, showing what earlier archaeological excavations looked like and learn about the lives of the Museum’s founders Amos and Wilfrid Jury, and his wife Elsie. You can also see images of the City of London and surrounding area beginning in the early 20th century. There is so much to discover through the Museum of Ontario Archaeology and this is one of the many ways we want to bring it to you.

History is only a click away!

Four Excavation Stages you should know

Excavation stages for archaeology in Ontario:

In Ontario, Archaeology is regulated by the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport (MTCS). They maintain a provincial database of registered archaeological sites, issue licenses to archaeologists, and have Standards and Guidelines to follow within the province. Archaeological sites and activity are governed by the Ontario Heritage Act. All archaeological consulting work must be conducted by a licensed archaeologist.

Cultural Resource Management (CRM) is the process of conducting an archaeological assessment to determine if land development will impact sites of cultural heritage value or interest. Once a site has been destroyed, information on its past is lost forever. Sites can either be protected, or their information can be salvaged through excavation and documentation.

Four Stages of Archaeological Assessment:

  1. Background Study
    Determine the possibility of an archaeological site on the property by studying maps and historic records. Modern developments could have already removed historical evidence but not always.
  2. Property Assessment/Field Survey
    Excavating test pits in grass or wooded areas, or walking a ploughed agricultural field to find artifacts. Alternative techniques are employed in the assessment of urban areas.
  3. Site Specific Assessment
    Once an archaeological site has been found, this assessment determines the size, time period, cultural affiliation, and significance. Sites are measured and divided into 1 meter square test units, soil is screened to uncover artifacts, and if the site is determined to have cultural heritage value, it goes into Stage 4, mitigation.
  4. Mitigation
    Development impacts can be mitigated through construction avoidance and long-term protection or full excavation and documentation. If the site cannot be protected, it must be entirely excavated to preserve the archaeological data.
Artifacts
Artifacts uncovered at a local excavation site
Map london
Historic map of London (Click the map)
Test pit
Test Pit example

Work Study Profile: Vasanthi

Vasanthi profile picture

Hello! My name is Vasanthi Pendakur, and I just started working at the museum in September 2014.

As part of my program at Western, I will be working at the museum for the next year as an Education Assistant. I was drawn to this position because of all the new skills I could gain from it. I also have some background in First Nations history from when I worked for a private research company specializing in land claims and rights. This position seemed like the perfect place to combine this knowledge with the interpretation and educational programming skills I could learn.

So what do I do? I help run educational and cultural programming for school groups visiting the museum. This involves a lot of cool activities that include tours of the museum, archaeological and historical activities, and First Nations’ crafts. Currently I’m still learning many of the programs, but I’ve started to run a few by myself. One of the activities I’m involved with is artifact handling. This activity allows students to handle real artifacts from around Ontario, while attempting to guess what they were used for. I’ve also helped with various cultural and archaeological activities.

I’ve found that I enjoy working with the school groups who come to the museum. No matter what happens, I always have great stories from the tours and activities. It’s fun to work with the kids and see how much they know during the tours or what they create during workshops.

If I could say one thing about the museum, I would promote their educational programming. The museum’s tours and activities are a great way for students to learn all about the First Nations and pioneers who inhabited Southern Ontario.

Out of the museum, I am working on a Master’s of Public History at Western University. Aside from school, I love reading, I do embroidery, and I watch a lot of TV.

Agents of Deterioration

Agent deterioration

An agent of deterioration is a term used to identify the nine major active agents that threaten museum collections. These active agents can be sudden and catastrophic or gradual over a period of time. Museums have employed and refined different strategies over the years to help mitigate these nine agents. However, these agents aren’t just confined to museums; take a look around your home or neighbourhood. How many of the agents can you identify?

The Nine Agents:

Direct Physical Force (shock, vibration, abrasion, and gravity)
Physical forces can be sudden and catastrophic or gradual over a long period of time. Most artifacts are susceptible to this damage with the most common damage resulting from improper handling. The range of damage can vary from complete loss to minor fixes.

Results from: improper handing or support, earthquakes, war, floor collapse

Creates: Dents, scratches, breakage, and any sort of abrasion to all types of artifacts

Thieves and Vandals
This type of damage can result in total loss of the object if care is not taken. There are a lot of preventative methods in place to help prevent this type of loss both for staff and visitors. Graffiti and overall intentional damage to objects or areas are also part of this category.

Results from:     Intentional- Theft, Graffiti

Unintentional- When staff lose or misplace an object

Creates: Disfiguring or loss of artifacts

Fire
Fire poses a threat to all collections both inside and outside of the museum. The smoke of a fire can often be just as dangerous and destructive as the fire itself. Although this is not a common occurrence, the loss and destruction is often severe.

Results from: fire and smoke deposits

Creates: Destruction. Can destroy, scorch, or deposit smoke on artifacts, especially organic materials

Water damage to metal post causing rust
Water damage causing rust on outdoor sign posts

Water
A major threat to collections because water agents can begin from something as simple as a leaky roof to something catastrophic such as a flood. Organic materials, metals, and composite (layered) materials are the most susceptible to this damage.

Results from: Burst/leaking plumbing, floods, and rain

Creates: efflorescence/ tide marks on porous materials, swelling of organic materials, corrosion, delamination, fractures, and shrinkage or textiles

Mouse chewed artifact
Evidence of mouse chewing an artifact

Pests
Pests are common in both museum and home. In this category we can include both the pests themselves and their deposits such as nests and homes. Organic materials are the most susceptible because pests consider them wither a food source or a barrier they want to cross. The damage becomes greater when pests set up home in and around the objects.

Results from: Insects, Vermin, Birds, Mould and Microbes

Creates: cuts, tunnels, excretion, and gnaw marks. Can weaken, disfigure, and displace artifacts. Moulds can stain or weaken both organic and inorganic materials. Many times create irreversible damage.

Contaminants
Term used to describe the chemical agents from both controlled and uncontrolled environments that can accelerate the deterioration process.

Results from: Indoor and Outdoor gases (eg.Pollutants, oxygen), Liquids (eg.Grease) , and solids (eg. Dust and salt)

Creates: Disintegration, discolouration, and corrosion of especially reactive or porous materials.

Basket radiation
Basket affected by radiation on exterior, fading the original colours

Radiation
Light damage can result from natural lighting such as the sun to the lightbulb lighting a room. Light damage will not cause complete destruction of an object, but it can decrease its relevance and decrease value considerably. This type of damage cannot be repaired or reversed.

Results from: Ultraviolet light, Unnecessary light

Creates: Disintegration, Fading, yellowing of organic and coloured inorganic materials, and darkening of woods.

Incorrect Temperature
All artifacts decompose gradually at room temperature but can take decades to visually see temperature impacts. Here are circumstances that can quicken the disintegration process;

Too High: gradual disintegration or discolouration of organic materials especially photos, films, and acidic paper

Too low: Embrittlement which can result in fractures of paints

Fluctuations: Fractures and delamination of layered material, and Relative humidity fluctuations

Incorrect Relative Humidity(RH)
Incorrect RH and temperature often go hand in hand since they impact each other. Think of all those summer days when it is sticky outside, that’s humidity. Objects are also impacted by humidity and the severity and types of damage can vary.

Damp: Causes mould and corrosion, hydrate materials

Fluctuations: Shrink/ swell unconstrained organic materials, crush or fracture constrained organic materials, and cause layered organic materials to buckle, tent, or delaminate

Dry: Fracture materials

Nailing down Iron Artifacts

Iron is a common material used to create tools, weapons, and everyday equipment. It is distinguishable from other metals as it is magnetic and corrodes into rust. It is a very common find for archaeologists on historic sites in Ontario as it dates back to European contact. Iron was introduced to Europe in the 15th century and became more prevalent during the Middle Ages.

Iron nails

The most common iron artifact found on historical sites are nails. Nails have changed throughout the years as different processes have become available. By looking for different features, archaeologists are able to tell how old a building might be.

Forming iron: 

Blast Furnace

Without the use of a blast furnace, it was only possible to heat iron to a point where it became soft enough to work with tools (creating wrought iron objects). These objects were filled with impurities and were generally weak in comparison to purer iron objects.

Blast furnaces work by inserting iron rocks into the top of the furnace and adding fuel for the fire (wood charcoal and other flammables). Once temperatures reach an excess of 1,538 degrees Celcius, the iron ore melts and flows to the bottom of the furnace. The impurities (slag) separate from the pure iron as they are of a lighter composition.  Slag is made up of glass-like substance due to the silica within the melting rocks. Once melted, the molten iron can be extracted and poured into a mould of any shape or size, creating cast iron.

Types of Iron:

Wrought Iron is created from low carbon iron and contains a lot of silica, making it the weak. It was common in early history as it was easier to produce than cast iron. Its popularity declined as steel became more available. It is no longer produced commercially (wrought iron gates for example are now made from a mild steel).

Cast Iron is made by melting iron in a blast furnace and separating the silica from the pure iron. The iron is then poured into a mould to form an object. As a result, the process creates cast lines, a noted feature of any casting process.

Steel is simply a more carbon rich iron, making it more rigid and stronger.

Wrought Iron horseshoe
Wrought Iron horseshoe
Cast Iron cauldron
Cast Iron Cauldron

Programs for Teachers


Education at the Museum of Ontario Archaeology puts history directly in the hands of students.  With access to almost two million artifacts, over a century of archaeological research, and a full size Iroquoian long house, students will enjoy a truly immersive learning environment while exploring over 13,000 years of human heritage in Ontario.

A traditional pottery making workshop
A traditional pottery making workshop

The Museum of Ontario Archaeology’s education programs have been developed with teachers in mind; emphasizing a multi-disciplinary approach relating directly to Ontario’s Curriculum. Students explore our archaeological heritage and discover Ontario’s First Nations’ history, culture and traditions through hands-on and interactive activities, crafts and games. They discover how archaeologists formulate questions to study and learn from the artifacts they excavate, by using the inquiry process.

The inquiry process, in which students are encourage to ask, research and analyze, and then answer their own questions, is an integral part of the new Ontario Social Studies curriculum. Museums have a unique ability to incorporate meaningful object and place based learning, while archaeology has a strong science based structure; the two combined, therefore, are an excellent tool for exploring the inquiry process. Students will discover how archaeologists use the inquiry process to draw information about past peoples from the artifacts they find. Students also have the opportunity to ask their own questions, and come to their own conclusions using real artifacts and simulated archaeological activities.

MOA lends itself most obviously to the Ontario Social Studies and History curriculum, and our programming introduces students to Ontario’s First Peoples and explores their interaction with the early European explorers and settler populations. But why stop there? We also incorporate the Science and Technology curriculum, most especially in the primary grades. Through our interactive tours students discover how Ontario’s environment and resources changed over time, how early First Nations populations interacted with their environment, and how they adjusted their methods of hunting, farming and tool production to meet these changes. We also incorporate a variety of 2D and 3D visual arts, blended into our programs, which compliment the cultural and archaeological content.

Student using a hand drill to make a hole in a soapstone pendant.
Student using a hand drill to make a hole in a soapstone pendant.

Museums are an asset to the learning process; we create engaging hands-on and interactive components to enhance content, through experiential learning. At MOA we have activities ranging from artifact handling/identification and archaeological excavation to woodland painting, soapstone pendants, and games; all designed to bring history to life in students’ hands.

Our education programs are created to meet Ontario curriculum needs and give teachers a choice of activities – extending their students’ experience beyond the classroom and bringing the curriculum to life. School programs follow a well-paced schedule designed to keep students moving, motivated, and engaged. Contact MOA today to create an immersive educational experience and open your students’ minds to the grandeur of Ontario’s heritage.

View our available programs: 2014-15 MOA Education brochure

Ceramic Identification

Ceramics artifacts have a long human history, dating back 27,000 years. Ceramics are a useful artifacts for archaeologist as they are hand made, durable, and can last thousands of years without changing from their original state.

Clay, in its natural form, is white in colour. impurities such as iron make it a different colour. When clay is heated, water evaporates and the minerals fuse to become a ceramic. This process is irreversible once the ceramic has been created, and is similar to making glass.

Identifying qualities of Historic Ontario Ceramics:

Types: There are four major groups of ceramic; coarse earthenware, fine earthenware, stoneware and porcelain. These types have different densities and are heated to different temperatures when made.

Ceramic types
Ceramic firing temperatures

Glaze:

Glazes colour, decorate, waterproof, and strengthen ceramics. Glazes are comprised of a layer of glass fused to the clay through firing. They are particularly important as waterproofing earthenware as it is a very porous material.

Glazes react differently when heated depending on what they are made of. Salt
glazes, which combine silica, sodium and/or potassium with calcium (as a stabilizer), are commonly used on stoneware.
The glaze forms a thin, orange-peel like texture. Lead glazes, which contain lead and other metals tend to melt at lower temperatures making them easier to use and produce brilliant effects. Adding tin to a lead glaze creates an opaque white glaze, known as majolica, delft, or faience. Luster can be added to the glaze, by using silver or copper.

Makers marks: 

In order to determine its date, archaeologists can use both the style of a ceramic vessel, as well as the technique used to make it. One of the best ways to determine a vessel’s age is
to use its ‘Maker’s Mark’, or the mark found typically on the bottom of the object. Maker’s Marks are applied using different methods depending on the manufacturer.

Archaeologists are able to date ceramic artifacts using the maker’s mark by determining when a particular style was used. For instance, we know that printing ‘England’ was used after 1891. It became compulsory for English ceramics to be marked as a result of the McKinley Tariff Act in the United States. The bill, designed to encourage American industries, required articles imported into the USA to be clearly marked with the name of the country where it was manufactured.

registration mark
Registration Identifiers