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What is a longhouse

longhouse MOA

Longhouses were built with a frame of saplings supported by large posts in the house interior, typical longhouses were covered with sheets of bark such as elm bark and birch. Openings at either end were used as doors, while openings in the roof acted like chimneys, letting the smoke from the fires out. Fireplaces or hearths were spaced down the length of a central corridor in the house (an average of 1-6 fires), and were flanked with two platforms: the lower for sleeping, and the upper for food and storage.

The historic record shows that each hearth was shared by two families; one family lived on either side of the longhouse. On average, families had six to eight members. A medium sized longhouse like the one reconstructed at the Lawson site, would have been occupied by 38-40 people, all related through the female line. When a couple got married, the husband would move into his wife’s family longhouse. Read more

Underwater Archaeology

Underwater Archaeology is one of the many hands-on workshops offered at Museum of Ontario Archaeology. This program explains how archaeologists use context and critical thinking while excavating in order to understand the site and to put together stories that artifacts may reveal about the culture of the site.

Underwater archaeology is more difficult than archaeology on land as you have to know how to dive, breathe under water, maneuver through dark or muddy waters, communicate to your team, avoid sharks (this is very important!), and write and record your findings while under water. You air tanks even limit the time you can spend excavating.

Instructions: Read more

Who is Wilfrid Jury? (Part 4)

Wilfrid Jury’s Archaeological Work

St Ignace II

WIlfrid Jury at St Ignace II 1960
St Ignace II 1960

St Ignace II was one of several Jesuit Mission sites in Huron- Wendat territories during the mid 1600’s. In March of 1649, the Huron-Wendat village and Jesuit mission were attacked and captured by Five Nations Iroquois. Jesuit missionaries Brebeuf and Lalement from the nearby St.Louis mission were captured and taken back to St Ignace II and killed.  Wintemberg previously conducted excavations at St. Ignace II in 1937 and 1938 and continued actively on the site until his untimely death in 1941. Excavations halted both due to Wintembergs death and World War II. However the Jesuits appealed to Sherwood Fox, Present of the University of Western Ontario, to continue excavations on site. In 1946, with the assistance of President Fox and Wintembergs notes, Wilf resumed excavations which uncovered a structure he interpreted as a Jesuit church or chapel. Wilf also undertook partial reconstruction of the site, inolving a frame of the longhouse and segments of the palisade. For Wilf’s efforts, he received a blessing from Pope Pius XII in 1946.

Penetanguishine Read more

Who is Wilfrid Jury? (Part 3)

Archaeological Sites with Wilfrid Jury

Southwold Earthworks

southwold

Prior to 1935, few prehistoric Iroquoian village sites in Southern Ontario had been documented or excavated. From July- September 1935, Wilf conducted the major excavation at Southwold Earthworks, as assistant to renowned archaeologist W. Wintemberg.  They employed a crew of hired men with little excavation experience to complete the manual labor. Despite this limitation they were highly successful and became the first archaeologists to excavate and completely expose a number of longhouses on an Iroquoian village site. They were also the first to systematically map a set of Iroquoian earthworks and palisades. Read more

Archaeology Around the World Camp

Archaeology Around the World camp – July 21st to July 25th (and August 25 to 29th) 2014.

Quill Writing

Archaeology around the world is a theme that’s all about encouraging a sense of adventure and exploration! Learn about unique archaeological sites around the world.

This week starts off with the ancient Romans and Greeks, when you’ll get to learn about the mythology and culture that became the basis of modern Western civilization. We’ll test your knowledge with trivia and make wonderful Gods/Goddesses themed crafts. We make olive wreaths and use sheets and blankets to throw a toga fashion show!

On Tuesday we explore China, the country with one of the oldest continuous civilizations in the world! You’ll get to learn about Chinese art, culture and symbolism and use that knowledge to make your own clay terra cotta warriors, paper lanterns and fly handmade kites in the park. Tuesday is also water day so we get to do a water balloon toss, play ‘drip drip drop’ and have a wild time in the sun splashing around! Read more

TMHC War of 1812 Artifacts

War of 1812 Artifacts Archaeological excavations conducted by Timmins Martelle Heritage Consultants Inc. (TMHC) uncovered a small number of artifacts from the War of 1812. These included a musket ball, two buck shot and a caltrop. Click here to see image examples.  The musket ball measured between 16.5 mm (0.65 inch) and 17.0 mm (0.67 inch) in diameter, and both buck shot measured in the double naught size range, that is, between 8.4 mm (0.33 inch) and 8.9 mm (0.35 inch) in diameter. These sizes were consistent with the buck and ball load American troops employed during the War of 1812. Buck and ball was a paper cartridge containing one musket ball and two or three buck shot. The purpose was to increase the chance of hitting a target with the bonus possibility of hitting multiple targets with one shot. The smaller buck shot might not kill a target but could cause enough injury to remove a soldier from battle.

buck and ball
Buck and Ball found during excavations by TMHC

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Simcoe’s Boat found in Thames

For Immediate Release                                                                                                                                                 April 1, 2014

Simcoe’s Boat Found  in Thames River

Local archaeologists have discovered a remnant of an ancient boat found in the Thames River. It is believed to have belonged to Simcoe on his voyage here in the late 1700s. Last summer’s low river levels presented archaeologists with an opportunity to investigate the soil beneath the bed of the Thames River, revealing a historically significant piece of wood.  Professor Anaidni Senoj was leading his team’s excavation and recounts his discovery:  “When I came across the piece of wood, I knew immediately that I’d hit historical gold. I chuckled to myself, tipped my fedora, and said my favourite Indiana Jones quote from The Last Crusade: ‘This should be in a Museum!'” Read more

Selected Artifacts from the Fugitive Slave Chapel Site

Fugitive Slave Chapel Artifacts

Objects found at an archaeological site tell us a lot about the people who lived there. After all, archaeology is the study of material evidence left behind by humans in order to understand their behaviour.

We cannot yet tell you a lot about life at the Fugitive Slave Chapel because analysis of the artifacts has only just begun. The artifacts were excavated in May to July 2013 and were washed and processed in January 2014. The research that has been found was collected thanks to volunteer efforts. The Museum of Ontario Archaeology is lucky to have the chance to display these artifacts to the public before they are analysed and researched by the archaeological team, Timmins Martelle Heritage Consultants.

Out of 41 excavated units, a total of 8 potential cultural features were identified on the site. One may have been a grey water pit and others were likely small refuse pits which explains the wide assortment of ceramics, glassware, and buttons.

 Selected artifacts from the Fugitive Slave Chapel Site

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Archaeology Flotation

Flotation Technique in Archaeology

 

Jury_Day_2009 (4)

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

How Archaeologists Get a Date

How Archaeologists Get a Date
A Valentine’s Day blog post 

Archaeologists like to use several dating methods to find out more about artifacts. It all depends on what the object is, where the archaeologist is located (what resources he/she has access to), and how old the artifact appears to be.

What is eligible for dating?
Not every artifact is eligible for all dating methods; for example, an artifact must be made from a carbon-based material to use radiocarbon dating (stone, for example doesn’t have carbon).  A stone artifact can be dated based on the way it looks and/or the way it was made.  Over many years of research chronologies of stone tools (and pottery) have been built, based on styles (called Seriation).

Archaeologists can also be matchmakers by using the context, which is the where, when and how an artifact is found. In the end, archaeologists often use a few different methods on an group of artifacts found together to come up with a reasonable date.

CarbonDating - How Archaeologists Get a Date

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