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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 Read more

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. Read more

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? Read more

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.” ** Read more

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. Read more

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. Read more

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. Read more

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. Read more

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. Read more

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. Read more