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Archaeology Flotation

Flotation Technique in Archaeology

 

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What is it?
Flotation uses water to process soil samples and recover tiny artifacts that would not ordinarily be recovered when screening soil during an archaeological investigation.  The reason these artifacts aren’t normally recovered is that they are so tiny that they fall through the ¼” screen typically used by archaeologists to sift the soil.

To recover tiny artifacts, a soil sample is placed on a screen and with the addition of water; artifacts are separate from the dirt particles.  Light materials (called light fraction) float on top of the water while heaver materials such as bone, pottery, and stone rest on the screen.  Light materials include plant remains, seeds, and insects which can reveal information about diet, environment, and climate.

Heavy and light materials are collected separately and placed on a tray to dry. Once the sample has thoroughly dried, the material is placed in archival bags for storage and further research. Read more

Work Study Profile: Erik

Work study profile: Erik Skouris

How long have you worked at MOA?
I have been at the Museum of Ontario Archaeology for 6 months.

What is your job title and what do you do?
I am a Curatorial Assistant. I assist Joan Kanigan, the Executive Director, with various assigned and ongoing projects. This includes processing the Museum’s collections and registering, accessing, cataloguing, and shelving the museum’s existing objects. I also maintain inventory and documentation according to Ontario curatorial standards. I have prepared various reports regarding collection activities and conditions of archival objects as well. Currently, I am assisting in an exhibit design. The exhibition is titled, “What Archaeologists Do In The Winter”. Read more

Staff Profile: Joan Kanigan – Executive Director

Staff Profile Blog:  Joan Kanigan

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I joined the Museum of Ontario Archaeology as Executive Director in May of 2012.  This was an exciting change for me as it allowed me to merge two of my passions – museums and archaeology.  What excites me most about working at MOA is that I believe museums can profoundly change people, and that MOA has tremendous potential to inspire the archaeologist in everyone.  Museums are great for unleashing our natural curiosity, expand our understanding, and, broaden our sense of place in the world.  What makes MOA unique is the connection the museum has to past human experiences.  I believe museums connect people through shared experiences, and through archaeology, we can connect with the countless generations that have come before us.

Since joining the MOA team, the museum has seen many changes.  With input from many community members, we redeveloped our mission statement to clearly articulate our “why” what we do is important.  We have also created a new logo to support our belief that archaeology is (first and foremost) about people and that the role of the museum is also (first and foremost) to serve people.  We will soon start planning for a complete redesign of the museum’s permanent exhibits and I am looking forward to involving the community throughout the planning and design phases. Read more

February Palisade Newsletter

Click here to view this month’s February Palisade e-Post
What’s new:
– Winter Village Family Fun Day is coming up Family Day Monday, February 17 from 10 am – 4 pm.
Dog sledding, snowshoeing, snowsnake throwing, storytelling in the longhouse, Inuit games, kids games and crafts, Indigenous Foods café,  and more! Visit our new exhibit: Winter Archaeology to see what archaeologists do when the fields are frozen. Bring in your artifacts to ask an archaeologist to help identify them!
– Archaeology of the Fugitive Slave Chapel Site: artifact washing and cataloguing has been going on in MOA’s lab for the past month. Videos and blog posts on the volunteers you shouldn’t miss!
– Register now for March Break Camp : MOA Olympics March 10-14
– London Chapter OAS meeting: February 13 – Annual members night with presentations on various research topics from members.
– Sweat Lodge on February 14 at sunset.

Photographing Artifacts: FSC project

Photographing Fugitive Slave Chapel Artifacts 

Larry has volunteered to take photograph some of the important artifacts from the Fugitive Slave Chapel site. In the early afternoon, he was taking pictures of important bottles for future research.  We caught him photographing a medicine bottle with the words “pain killer” and “vegetable”. Researchers will find a date and more details about the product.

You can do a quick search for “pain killer vegetable bottle” on Google and see what you find! Who knows, the artifact featured in this video could be Perry Davis’ vegetable pain killer…

Photography and archaeology:

Read more

Archaeology at the Fugitive Slave Chapel Site

About Archaeology on the Fugitive Slave Chapel site

Archaeology was underway in May 2013 at the site of the Fugitive Slave Chapel. Timmins Martelle Heritage Consultants Inc. conducted the archaeology assessment with the help of public archaeology volunteers.  TMHC has a passion for, and experience in early black history archaeology in Ontario and were considered a good fit for this local project.
Much of the material found on the site were from the 19th century, ranging from buttons and nails to animal bones, bottles, and ceramics.

Learn more about the initial phases of the Chapel Site project and the working relationships among the archaeologists as they conducted the archaeology assessment and recovered thousands of artifacts in the interview with Darryl Dann, amember of London Advisory Committee and volunteer assistant field director with Timmins Martelle Heritage Consultants. Read more

Cataloguing Artifacts

The attached videos feature Rebecca who is working on the “in between” step to help the cataloguer.  She is using an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of the items found in the field bags. If any interesting items are found or notes need to be made associated with the unit items being cleaned, they are documented. This will help the cataloguer and make it easy to access certain artifacts when all items are put into storage.

Artifacts are also sorted into smaller bags within the larger field bag. For example, ceramic patterns are sorted and matched if possible and bones might be put together.

Some of the coolest things that have been found are bottles with embossed writing. A lot of information can be gained from these bottles. One item was found to be from a quack doctor’s “miracle medicine” concoction. Read more

History of Fugitive Slave Chapel site

In 1986, the London Public Library installed a plaque to recognize the African Methodist Episcopal Church as a “priority one” heritage property in the City. It is the site of the first church of the Black community in London.

In the 1800s, Canada abolished slavery and subsequently, it became a refuge for slaves fleeing from the U.S. The 1840s saw a significant gathering of slave refugees in the area. In 1847, land was bought for the African Methodist Episcopal Church (also referred to as the Fugitive Slave Chapel). In 1869, the congregation moved to Beth Emmanuel church at 430 Grey Street which still stands today with a congregation as strong as ever.

Despite its prominence, the site isn’t designated by the government and is therefore not protected under the Ontario Heritage Act. Funding is being raised to move the Fugitive Slave Chapel beside Beth Emmanuel Church and preserve and share its history. In its new location,  the hopes are that “the chapel will be used to preserve its history and facilitate research and education about the underground rail road and related subjects. The centre will also include a Black history library and a small showroom or museum for Black historical artefacts” (FSCPP). Read more

Artifact Washing: FSC Site

Artifact Washing Process:

Small groups of 6-8 people work to help wash artifacts from the Fugitive Slave Chapel site. In the summer, 1 meter square units were excavated on the site and any materials found in that space were documented and kept together in “field bags” with attached provenience information: site number, unit coordinates, level, date, and excavator’s initials. Each bag is given a separate number for the site. Artifacts from the completed units are taken to a lab for processing.

At the Museum of Ontario Archaeology, volunteers are taking items out of the field bags to wash. Read more

Archaeology Volunteers with the Fugitive Slave Chapel project

Darryl Dann is a licensed archaeologist and volunteer with the archaeology at the Fugitive Slave Chapel project in London (275 Thames Street). He is currently helping organize and supervise the washing of artifacts excavated at the site this past summer. Volunteers have been washing the artifacts at the Museum of Ontario Archaeology for the month of January 2014.

Volunteers have been working on two jobs: washing artifacts and documenting the items to help cataloguers enter the artifact information into a database for storage, ease of access, and future research.

An amazing group of over 35 volunteers have taken part in this public archaeology excavation and post-excavation process. It has been a great opportunity to learn about artifacts, history, and the archaeology process.

Watch this video about the Fugitive Slave Chapel project to learn more!