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Sir William Flinders Petrie

Sir Flinders Petrie, 1903
Sir Flinders Petrie, 1903

Sir William Mathews Flinders Petrie was responsible for making archaeology the scientific discipline it is today.

Archaeology in popular media is frequently portrayed as a treasure hunt. Many popular characters perpetuate this image, perhaps most famously Indiana Jones, a professor of archaeology who travels the globe in search of precious artifacts, which he obtains by any means necessary, and at anyone’s expense, with little regard for context beyond the value of the object. Although this is a misleading image of archaeology today, in its early years the discipline really was more like treasure hunting than science. Sir William Mathews Flinders Petrie was the man responsible for taking the first steps towards making archaeology the scientific discipline it is today. Read more

Beadwork with Dakota Ireland

Dakota Ireland

Shekoli/Hello, my name is Dakota (Kalo:loks) Ireland.

I do a lot of different beadwork, but mostly jewelry such as rings, bracelets, earrings, and necklaces/medallions. The main beading style that I use is peyote stitch (also known as gourd stitch) and it is a particular style of weaving.

I come from the Oneida Nation of the Thames and my clan is Bear. I have been working with the Museum of Ontario Archaeology for two and a half years now. I was the curator for The Story of Our Grandfathers: Our Original Medicine exhibition from May-August 2014 and the assistant curator for the On^yota’a:ka: ukwehuwenekha’ khale’/miinwaa Anishinaabemowin language exhibition that is currently on display at the museum. Read more

Ice Patch Archaeology

Many portrayals of archaeology in popular culture include travelling to remote locations in order to recover artifacts regarded as “treasure”, usually under dramatic and somewhat harrowing circumstances. For Greg Hare, the Yukon Territory’s site assessment archaeologist, ice patches are the equivalent of the treasure filled tombs in an Indiana Jones film.

Figure 1. Archaeologists Survey the Friday Ice Patch, Yukon Territory Photo courtesy of Yukon Cultural Services Branch
Figure 1. Archaeologists Survey the Friday Ice Patch, Yukon Territory. Photo courtesy of Yukon Cultural Services Branch

Ice Patch Archaeology began in the late 1990s through the Yukon Ice Patch Project (Hare 2011: 2). Ice patches are accumulated snow and ice from previous winters that does not melt in the summer. They are found in alpine regions around the world, including the southern Yukon. Unlike glaciers, they do not flow downhill or move over time (except for seasonal melting along the perimeter). When the Yukon Ice Patch project began, changing temperatures were resulting in massive melting of these ice patches, which revealed many archaeological artifacts that had previously been encased in the ice. Due to the extremely dry and cold conditions, as well as the sedentary state of the ice, these artifacts are  remarkably well preserved and can include sinew, hide, and feathers on objects up to 9,000 years old (Hare 2011: 22). Read more

Lawson Site Changes: Part 2

 The Lawson Site “Un” Field School

Picture of students learning about archaeology at the Lawson Site.
School group at the Lawson site in 2000.

As part of the long term management of the Lawson Village and partnership we have with the Department of Anthropology at Western University, the Museum’s Lawson Chair (Neal Ferris) will be running a field school on the site though the last half of May and early part of June. This course is not your typical field school because it’s not focused on teaching students how to dig up a site. Instead, students will undertake field investigations that are designed to protect the heritage value of this important archaeological site while remaining consistent with our aim to preserve the site. In other words, students will be learning how not to dig up the Lawson site! Read more

Lawson Site Changes: Part 1

For the past number of years, visitors to the Lawson Site will have noted an ongoing state of deterioration.  Over the years, weather, animals, and time have not been kind to the interpretive signs, gardens, and buildings.  The process of remediating the site and developing an ongoing management plan are now underway, and over the next few years visitors will start to see ongoing improvements.

Small longhouse as it appeared in 2015.
Condition of small longhouse in 2015.

One of the first big changes at the Lawson Site was the removal of the small reconstructed longhouse adjacent to the forest.  Originally built in 2002, the small longhouse helped illustrated the variation in house sizes at the Lawson Site, but was closed to the public about 5 years ago when it became unsafe Read more

Museum Governance Matters

governance

While you may be aware that MOA has a Board of Directors, have you ever considered what the Board does?  Or why museum governance matters?

By definition (Canadian Museums Association) museums are not-for-profit institutions created in the public interest.   While museums have operational functions that differ from other not-for-profit organizations,  they still operate within the same legal, ethical and business frameworks. Read more

Look Back: The Pipe Site Pipe

Long before the creation of this blog, and before the digital Palisade E-Post, the museum sent out paper newsletters.  First published in February 1979, each Palisade Post issue is a snapshot of what was happening in Ontario archaeology during this time, and is the basis of our Look Back series.

The Pipe Site Pipe

(Spring 1993, Volume 15 No. 1)

“Of all the pits, in all the fields, you had to pop out of mine.”

No, it’s not a bad line from a great movie, it’s just my way of introducing this article, which deals with the experience of finding that one artifact, in one test pit, on one survey.

This happened in November, 1992, when the Contract Archaeology crew conducted an archaeological assessment of approximately 64.5 hectares (160 acres) of land in Flos Township, Simcoe County.  Only 30 percent of this property could be visually surveyed.  The rest of the property that had both natural and reforested woodlot had to be surveyed using a technique known as ‘test pitting’.  Using this method we were able to recover three isolated find spots and one undisturbed village.  After a brief description of the survey technique, I will discuss the find spot which produced the pipe pictured here. Read more

The Rosetta Stone

Rosetta Stone

Swinging through tombs, jumping into dark caves and discovering rare artifacts, Indiana Jones has a way with luck that surprises many people. Because of these characteristics, you’d expect someone like Indy to find something as culturally important as the Rosetta Stone. However, this Indy-worthy find was actually made by a French solider in 1799. Pierre Bouchard, who was simply trying to increase the size of a French fort in Rosetta, Egypt, stumbled upon the Rosetta Stone. It was located in an old wall that was being demolished for the expansion of the fort. Fortunately, the commanding officer recognized its importance and extracted the piece. At the time of its discovery, Napoleon, the emperor of France, was invading Egypt, so the Rosetta Stone was claimed as French property until 1801. Soon after its discovery, the British defeated the French and claimed all of their important cultural artifacts. Since 1802, the stone has been held in the British Museum for viewing.

The ownership of the stone has caused a lot of controversy over the years. Many Egyptians feel that the stone belongs to their country, and should be held in a museum on Egyptian soil. Read more

MOA’s Edu-Kit

What’s an Edu-Kit you ask?

The MOA Educational Kit (“Edu-Kit” for short) is full of resources and artifacts that anyone can rent.  Containing over 30 artifacts, a teacher’s guide, and reading resources, the Edu-Kit is an excellent tool for elementary school teachers, homeschooling groups, or youth groups with an interest in history and archaeology.  It’s great for exploratory learning and is a way to bring the museum into your classroom.

edu-kit guide, teachers resource

Resource Guide

Starting with the Resource Guide is the best way to get the most our of the Edu-Kit.  The Guide provides a stress-free way to use the Edu-Kit materials in your group.  Lesson plans on First Nations History and Archaeology are included, along with customizable PowerPoint slides on a USB drive and artifact identification tools.  The Guide also includes additional history information for grades 6-8 or advanced learners, worksheets, and activity pages, along with First Nations myths and legends, and project ideas. Read more

Vikings of L’Anse aux Meadows

Frequently Axed Questions About the Vikings of L’Anse aux Meadows

archaeology, Newfoundland, L_Anse_aux_Meadows, Vikings

Did Vikings come to the New World? Yes. Are we talkin’ Ragnar and Lagertha? No. What’s a L’Anse aux Meadows? Newfoundland’s L’Anse aux Meadows is a Canadian National heritage site and it was also declared a world heritage site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1972 (Kristensen & Curtis 2012, 70). It is marketed for archaeological tourism, focusing on the fact that it is the first and only pre-Colombian Norse settlement in North America. In addition to viewing the ruins and re-creations of Norse structures, visitors who make the 12 hour drive north from St. John’s can participate in “traditional” Viking games, arts and crafts (Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism). The site is also notable for having been occupied by numerous Indigenous peoples for thousands of years (Kristensen & Curtis 2012, 71). Despite this, public interest in the Norse dominates the narrative of the site. Read more