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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

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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

Changing Landscapes: London Parks

The archaeology of Springbank Park and Victoria Park reveals a history that stretches over 12,000 years in London and includes indigenous, pioneer, and early military functions. With new development and reuse of our landscape, London’s history can be studied through excavated archaeological sites, archived stories, maps, and photographs.  As part of the Changing Landscapes exhibit at MOA, Springbank and Victoria Parks illustrate how our use of the land has changed over time.

Springbank Park, Byron, Ontario

London Parks - Springbank Park including Northern Hotel 1880
The Pumphouse complex, including the Northern Hotel, in 1880 (before the flood in 1883).

Located in Byron, Ontario, Springbank Park is a multi-use park consisting of gardens, nature trails, bicycle paths, and grassed and natural areas along the Thames River. Springbank Park is part of the Springbank Cultural Heritage Landscape, and is highly valued by Londoners since its history and memories contribute to the community’s sense of identity and rich cultural fabric. Through historical research and archaeological findings, we can piece together the history of Springbank Park and its changing landscape. Read more

Changing Landscapes: Kensal Park Norton Site

Imagine you are next up at bat in the baseball diamond in Kensal Park. Did you know you are also standing on the remains of a 15th century Iroquoian village officially known as the Norton Site?

Kensal Park – Norton Site

The Norton site was brought to the attention of Canadian archaeologist William Wintemberg in the early 1920’s when he was conducting extensive surveys at the Lawson Site. Although he mentions this discovery in his report of the Lawson excavations, no fieldwork was attempted at the location. At the time, the Norton family had been continually farming the adjacent land since the 1800’s and had recently acquired the land where the site is located.

Kensal Park finds, Changing Landscape Exhibit

The site was later rediscovered in 1987 in connection with a proposed water main being built in the north end of the park. The survey, conducted by Archaeological Services Inc. from Toronto, recovered a sample of artifacts that were similar in time to that of the Lawson Site. Further investigation revealed nine longhouses, a palisade, and one midden dating 1400-1450AD. In addition to flaked stone projectile points, bifaces, ceramics, and groundstone tools, worked bone items such as awls, beads, and a perforated antler object were recovered. Based on the evidence, the people living on site are identified as Ancestral Neutral.

Read more

Family Day 2016

Family Day 2016 new

Since the first Family Day was observed on February 18, 2008, many Ontarians have enjoyed taking advantage of the holiday to spend time with their family and explore their communities.  Family Day 2016 falls on February 15th and you don’t have to look any further than MOA for something fun to do as we continue our tradition of hosting a Family Fun Day filled with wonderful indoor family activities.

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Families will be able to listen to and share stories with Mi’kmaq storyteller Nina Antoine-Ogilvie as well as explore and shop at First Nations Craft Vendors throughout the day!  Children can discover the secrets to archaeological digs by uncovering and mapping chocolate chips in our Cookie excavation and explore the importance of First Nations Wampum as a means of communication through our wampum activity. Read more

What’s in a Collection?

Help preserve our collection with the Adopt an Artifact program

The recent discovery of Beatrix Potter’s Kitty in Boots in the Victoria & Albert Museum’s Beatrix Potter archive highlights the tremendous challenge museums can face in managing their collection and the information about them. With often thousands of objects and documents held in trust within museum collections the task of knowing not only what’s in the boxes but where in the museum things are located often falls to a select few people.

Museums hold their collections in trust for the public, and that responsibility includes not only caring for the collection but making the information and knowledge about it accessible.  Having worked with and for museums for over 15 years, I’ve seen examples of extraordinary collections management processes as well as “We don’t know what we’ll do if (fill in name) retires.  They’re the only person who knows where everything is.” Read more

Changing Landscapes: Archaeology in London

Introduction and Summerside Site

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Welcome to our four-part blog series titled Changing Landscapes that takes us on the journey into London’s archaeological past! Although there are hundreds of archaeological sites located throughout London and its surrounding area, we are going to focus on four sites in this series. These sites are featured in our feature exhibition Changing Landscapes: Unearthing London’s Past until April 2016 and highlights archaeology in London.

Before we dive into specific sites, let’s consider why these sites are excavated. The archaeological process in Ontario is not as simple as picking up a trowel and digging a square! The process is guided by rules and regulations set by the Ministry of Tourism, Culture, and Sport under the Ontario Heritage Act. Since 1974, this act has defined the process that evaluates, investigates, and manages the cultural heritage resources of our province. Read more

Elsie Jury: Pioneering Local Archaeology

Elsie Jury Typing Notes in the Field
Elsie Jury typing notes in the field

The career of Dr. Elsie Jury is just as fascinating as the career of her husband, Wilfrid Jury, and she played a huge role in fostering the acceptance of women in Ontario archaeology!

Elsie was of Irish and Scottish decent; her parents had immigrated to Millbank (Mornington Township) in Perth County in the early 19th century.  Her father was a doctor and her mother stayed at home to raise their family Read more

Carbon Dating aka Radiocarbon Dating

One of the dating methods most people think of when they talk about archaeology is radiocarbon dating. This is one of the absolute dating methods that archaeologists use to date an artifact. Only organic materials can be dated using this method, but archaeologists can also use it for inorganic artifacts sometimes too.  If an inorganic artifact, like pottery or stone tools, comes from the same layer of soil as an organic artifact, like plant remains or bone tools, archaeologists can use the age of the organic artifact to assign an approximate age to the inorganic artifacts as well.

Even though radiocarbon dating is a pretty well known technique not all archaeologists that have organic samples are able to do it, or perhaps more importantly, the funds to do it. It can cost over $600 to run these kinds of special scientific tests so sometimes archaeologists need to rely on other dating techniques instead.

The science behind it all… Read more