Thursday, April 16, 2009

Archaeology in the Classroom

I made a presentation to one of the grade 9 classes at the local high school (AWEC) today. While it can be tough to get a lot of enthusiasm from grade 9s, they were a pretty good group. From my perspective, I enjoy giving this presentation as it gives me a chance to talk about archaeology in the Annapolis Royal region. We have such rich archaeological resources in this area that I feel that all local residents should at least have an understanding of what we are living with.

The presentation was essentially divided into two segments. In the first portion of the class we looked at some of the archaeological digs which have happened around Annapolis Royal. The first dig which was documented with photographs was done at the Port Royal Habitation in 1938. The image at the top of this post is from that dig. Note the use of full sized shovels rather than trowels, dental tools and brushes. The second part of the class involved giving the students a chance to work as archaeologists by using one of our "dig boxes". These boxes are built with painted layers of foam and embedded artifacts to represent items found in this region. The students dig through the layers and trace what they find.

In a North American context, the Annapolis Royal region has unsurpassed archaeological resources. Around the town we have thousands of years worth of pre-contact aboriginal sites as well as early French, Acadian, Scottish, and English material. This region has seen warfare and conflict as the European powers sought to control North America. Various economies have developed, flourished and vanished. All of these activities have left material traces in the ground.

The images in this post are a small sampling of the digs which have been done in the area. I have borrowed the second and third images (Melanson Settlement in 1984 and Bellisle in 2005) from Dr. Marc LaVoie from Universite St Anne. The fourth image comes from Dr. Niki Clark from one of her digs at the Sinclair Inn Museum. This image shows some of the material found at just one level of a pit. The fifth image shows a wall found at Fort Anne by Parks Canada archaeologist Charles Burke in 2006. This was an exciting find since there was no prior knowledge that a wall would be found in this location. The final image was taken at the deGannes-Cosby House in 2007. There is a huge contrast between the work shown in this picture and the work in the 1938 picture. I was at this dig in 2007 and I can promise that I did not see a single pick-axe being used.

All for now,
RGS

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