Thursday, 3 May 2012

Canadian Federal Budget Cuts Culture & Heritage

It's been a while since this blog was updated, but the recent cuts to Parks Canada and Canada Archives has prompted me to get back on the horse. Despite my feeling about the way in which the Parks agency is managed, I am bewildered by the decision to cut staff and move the Atlantic Service Centre's conservation centre and historic and archaeological collection to Ottawa. This move literally will leave the few remaining staff archaeologists in Halifax without a collection. Here are a few links to news items surrounding the cuts:

Here is a blog by a Parks Employee:

Local news coverage of budget push-through:

A funny, if historically inaccurate, cartoon:

News about archives closure:

Parks Canada cuts:

Friday, 24 June 2011

Dig for 18th C. Spanish Mission Conducted on Private Land

Undergrads at the University of Western Florida are finding excellent organic preservation in their excavation of a Spanish Mission and First Nations village site in Molina, FL. Established in the 1740s, the mission was home to a Spanish cavalry unit and neighboured an Apalachee village. The site was apparently abandoned in 1761 following a raid by Creek Indians.

The students are finding remnants of wooden beams and nails, as well as aboriginal artifacts. The search for the church site continues. Another significant element to the project is that the work is being carried out on private land. It is encouraging to hear of examples of private landowners who are aware of the importance of archaeological heritage and the valuable information work such as this will provide.

Click here for the original article.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Public Archaeology Program at Grand Pré NHS Entering its 2nd Season

Following the success of public digs at Beaubassin and Fortress Louisbourg, last July archaeology at Grand Pré National Historic Site was opened to members of the public for a two week public excavation. The installation of water lines at the site several months prior revealed a linear stone structure that was initially suspected to belong to the long sought church of Saint Charles des Mines, made famous as the site of the Deporation Order of 1755 and which served as a prison for over 400 Acadian men and boys of the parish during their ordeal.

Work continued at the site this year during the Saint Mary's University undergraduate field school. The linear structure was determined to be a stone-lined drain leading from a cellar of a yet-undetermined origin. Work continues on site this July with round two of the public program.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Burden of Proof Surrounding Identification of Pirate Ship Seen as 'Buzzkill'

A recent article by the Los Angeles Times journalist David Zucchino describes the scrutiny applied by North Carolina's top marine archaeologists to the identity of an 18th Century shipwreck as a 'downer', a 'buzzkill' and a bit of 'unpleasantness'. The ship in question is believed to be the Queen Anne's Revenge, the flagship of the notorious pirate Blackbeard, portrayed in the latest edition of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.

Discovered by treasure hunters in 1996, the ships identity, and the subsequent value of the thousands of artifacts that have been salvaged - including a diamond encrusted wine glass - have been questioned, and rightly so, by the professional archaeological community. An article to be published next spring in the journal Historical Archaeology will discuss the recent findings, which its authors now feel point to the positive identification of Blackbeard's ship.

Despite what looks like an affirmation of the suspected identity of the vessel, the disregard for the process of identification of the vessel is dangerous. Just as we've seen with the lead codices, proclaiming the identity or source of any supposed historical object can bring its own form of 'unpleasantness'. Getting it right matters, regardless of the capacity crowds, or perhaps because of them. Incredible claims do require incredible proof, and it's reassuring to see proper scrutiny is being applied to this topic, in spite of pressure to sensationalize and a fanning of the flames by the media.

Click here for the original article

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Welcome to Shovel Test


For those not involved in archaeology, a shovel test is a small exploratory excavation unit (read: hole) used to quickly sample an area (read: find) for archaeologically significant material (read: stuff). A shovel test can be quick and dirty, or a thing of beauty, revealing many layers and a lot of detail. So that`s what bloggers do - I hope to touch on a range of subjects that appeal to me, and hopefully to you. My main interests presently are digging holes & exploring history, atheism & science, gaming & sports, and film & literature (not just science fiction and fantasy - a love for which my girlfriend is helping grow within me every day).

I also hope to turn this blog into a destination for current news and information on archaeological and historical research with summaries and updates on news stories from around the world.

Okay, this is a noobs first post. Just a short one to kick things off. Stay tuned for more.