| 3 December 2009
Ancient camp uncovered in Canada
A team of archeologists working for the City of Ottawa (Canada) has uncovered the oldest aboriginal camp yet found within the city limits, including stone tools and pieces of artfully decorated pottery dating from 300 BCE to 700 CE. Archeologists believe that the camp on the Rideau River was used periodically by Algonquin people because it was a good site for fishing, hunting and perhaps for gathering berries.
The dig started in early November because a nearby construction project will disturb the site for about a year. The National Capital Commission and scientists decided not to disclose its location. The dig unearthed a camp about 80 metres long by perhaps 30 metres wide. Ian Badgley, an NCC archeologist, said the commission hopes the public will eventually be able to work on the Rideau River site and at other Ottawa Valley locations to promote greater awareness of the region's prehistoric past. Jacqueline Fisher, an archeologist, said the site is the first ancient aboriginal community found in Ottawa and the artifacts are of high quality.
Fisher and other archeologists have been at the site for the past four weeks, and they have uncovered animal bones, tiny stone scrapers used to remove the flesh from hides that were used as clothing, pottery shards and a sharp stone axe head that was likely used to chop wood 1,500 to 2,000 years ago. "We have been finding stained soil where they have built fires or pits where they have fire-cracked rock and have been storing food," Fisher said. "This was a camp that was a good place to be, so they came here for many centuries."
Scientists dated the site by examining the style of the pottery they found while sifting the soil. Material found at the site came from the Quebec interior, southwestern Ontario and New York state, indicating the people who used the camp travelled widely or traded with other tribes. Ian Badgley, the NCC's first archaeologist, said the oldest aboriginal site found in the region at Leamy Lake Park is about 6,500 years old. "We expect to be able to identify sites within the city limits that were occupied as early as 10,000 to 10,500 years ago," Badgley said. "They would be on high ancestral elevations along the Ottawa River.
Badgley said the Rideau River site is the first excavation of its kind in Ottawa and should be used as a model for developing awareness about the region's archaeological resources. The Algonquins from Golden Lake who have filed a land claim for the entire Ottawa Valley, including Parliament Hill, have been monitoring the dig. Robert Potts, a lawyer representing the Algonquins in one of Canada's largest land claims, said the dig is being done in a respectful manner, but the Algonquins want control over the artifacts.
Source: Ottawa Citizen (27 November 2009)
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