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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

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

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

Four Excavation Stages you should know

Excavation stages for archaeology in Ontario:

In Ontario, Archaeology is regulated by the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport (MTCS). They maintain a provincial database of registered archaeological sites, issue licenses to archaeologists, and have Standards and Guidelines to follow within the province. Archaeological sites and activity are governed by the Ontario Heritage Act. All archaeological consulting work must be conducted by a licensed archaeologist.

Cultural Resource Management (CRM) is the process of conducting an archaeological assessment to determine if land development will impact sites of cultural heritage value or interest. Once a site has been destroyed, information on its past is lost forever. Sites can either be protected, or their information can be salvaged through excavation and documentation. Read more

Nailing down Iron Artifacts

Iron is a common material used to create tools, weapons, and everyday equipment. It is distinguishable from other metals as it is magnetic and corrodes into rust. It is a very common find for archaeologists on historic sites in Ontario as it dates back to European contact. Iron was introduced from Europe in the 15th century.

Iron nails

The most common iron artifacts found on historical sites are nails. Nails have changed throughout the years as different processes have become available. By looking for different features, archaeologists are able to tell how old a building might be. Read more

Ceramic Identification

Ceramics artifacts have a long human history, dating back 27,000 years. Ceramics are a useful artifacts for archaeologist as they are hand made, durable, and can last thousands of years without changing from their original state.

Clay, in its natural form, is white in colour. impurities such as iron make it a different colour. When clay is heated, water evaporates and the minerals fuse to become a ceramic. This process is irreversible once the ceramic has been created, and is similar to making glass.

Identifying qualities of Historic Ontario Ceramics: Read more

Mammoths & Mastodons

mammothsvsmastadon

One of the largest mammals known to man is the elephant. What most people don’t know is that the elephant is a descendant from the mammoth and mastodon. After the dinosaurs died off, the mammoth roamed Asia, Europe as well as North America. They were known to be alive up until about 4,000 years ago. Unlike the dinosaurs, the mammoth lived amongst the humans. We know that the mammoth lived because of the drawings that were found in caves of the humans hunting the mammoth or simply drawings of the mammoths themselves. Read more

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