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.
Four Stages of Archaeological Assessment:
- Background Study
Determine the possibility of an archaeological site on the property by studying maps and historic records. Modern developments could have already removed historical evidence but not always.
- Property Assessment/Field Survey
Excavating test pits in grass or wooded areas, or walking a ploughed agricultural field to find artifacts. Alternative techniques are employed in the assessment of urban areas.
- Site Specific Assessment
Once an archaeological site has been found, this assessment determines the size, time period, cultural affiliation, and significance. Sites are measured and divided into 1 meter square test units, soil is screened to uncover artifacts, and if the site is determined to have cultural heritage value, it goes into Stage 4, mitigation.
Development impacts can be mitigated through construction avoidance and long-term protection or full excavation and documentation. If the site cannot be protected, it must be entirely excavated to preserve the archaeological data.