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Southern Ontario Archaeology

Archaeologists have defined four major time periods since humans arrived in Southern Ontario over 12,000 years ago.  Can you imagine what life was like 11,000 years ago?  Here are some of the things we have learned from Southern Ontario archaeology.

The Paleo-Indian Period (12,000 – 9,500 B.P.) represents the period when the first inhabitants of southern Ontario arrived about 12,000 years ago, shortly after the end of the Ice Age and the retreat of the Wisconsin Glacier.

The Archaic Period (10,000 – 2,800 B.P.) is marked by an increase in population and a significant change in climate as the tundra-like environment gave way to deciduous forest and increasingly temperate conditions.

The Woodland Period (2,900 – 450 B.P.) is divided into four major subdivisions: Early, Middle, Transitional and Late. The people of the Early and Middle Woodland periods were largely hunters and gatherers, and there is evidence that they used small special purpose camps to exploit natural resources, including fish and chert. This period saw the emergence of pottery as a new technology.

The Historic Period represents significant changes brought about by European contact with First Nations in the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the continuing First Nations adaptations through to the present day, and the sequence of historical events of European-born settlers and their descendants in southern Ontario.

Editor’s Note (April 2016): Updated information

We recently shared Dr. Ellis’ videos and this post on our Facebook page and a question was raised by the community about a site that a former student recalled being discussed while she attended Western. Mechelle was enquiring about a site that might have “Salish” roots.

Dr. Ellis responded: that “the Davidson Site was not a “Salish” site but I think she may have been asking about the Davidson Archaic site where I found at least one pit house that resembles historically know ones from out west. I have co-written a longish summary of that work as a whole at Davidson intended for a more general audience and published in Kewa“.

Image of the Kewa Newsletter

Our thanks to Dr. Ellis and the London OAS chapter who have been kind enough to share the article from Kewa in reference to the Davidson site. You can read it by clicking DavidsonIKewaPart1Revised.

The London Chapter holds seven monthly meetings featuring a guest speaker(s) on the second Thursday of the month from September through to November and from January through to April. Meetings begin at 8pm at the Museum of Ontario Archaeology, Attawandaron Road, London. Parking is free. Doors are open around 7:30pm and there is time before the meeting for free juice and cookies and to view for free the Museum’s exhibits on the pre-contact and early contact period archaeology of Ontario.