What have you learned while you have been on this field course?
While being in this field school I have learned a lot about how multi-faceted archaeology is. How working in the field causes archaeologists to shift between these jobs regularly. Archaeologists need to understand the different soil and material types, know how to use the equipment correctly, know how to set up the trenches for excavations. Archaeologists might be setting up the lines for creating the Operations and Sub-Operations, or setting up drawing lines for drawing out the stratigraphy of the walls. Along with having the outside lab set up on site, this gives us the opportunity to see the different jobs involved in archaeology. We learn how to separate and categorize the different types of objects to be processed and cleaned. Some materials get washed, others get brushed, and then get grouped and labeled then put into the Lot bag it belongs to. I enjoy how the field school gives us the opportunity to try out the different jobs to see what we would like to specialize in for our archaeological careers.
What do you think about contributing to archaeological research in the region?
As being a member of the Kanien’kehá:ka of Kahnawake and a First year student at McGill University, I think that it is a great opportunity to be part of the research that is being done for this region. I believe that archaeology is an important practice that a lot of First Nation students should be interested in. This is due to the fact that a lot of archaeological digs are looking for the artefacts that date to the prehistoric period; this is before European contact, so they represent the ancestors of the First Nation Peoples. So I believe it is important to be involved in the research because it gives First Nation Peoples the opportunity to regain their voice in the understanding of the past. It also gives First Nation Students a chance to understand their own identity and culture and how it has evolved over time. The region we are working in has had several occupations of different cultures over time, similar to how Montreal is multi-cultural today. Similarly, Montreal still has a vast trading network system, just as it did thousands of years ago.
How has the public aspect of this project added to your experience?
It was nice to have the chance to work with the public, along with the guides of Maison Nivard- De Saint-Dizier because it shows us a side of archaeology that does not happen often. Usually archaeological digs are done in remote areas or with little to no public access. So this fieldschool showed me how working with the public can be fun at times and challenging at other times. You can find people who are really interested in what is going on and want to be involved in the project in some form or another. Then there are those who want to debate with you about the dating techniques used or the excavating techniques, or even those who want to purchase the artefacts found. Working with the public comes in different forms as well. There are the individuals that pass by and ask questions. There are groups/summer camps that come and do activities with the guides and archaeologists. There are individuals that like to get involved with the activities like cleaning artefacts or digging through the backfill. By working with different people, it is great to see how a lot of people are interested in what is happening in their community/area or are interested in the archaeology we are doing. So it is a great way to see the range of public interest and how they like the project.
Question: What is the most interesting artefact that you found this summer?
This summer was filled with many artefacts, as well as many objects that look like they wants to be an artefact, but are not (for example, natural rocks with odd shapes). One of the most interesting artefacts I found was the last one I found, at the beginning of the last week of excavation of the site. This is a stone tool that was used for grinding corn, nuts, or even grains. The reason I believe this artefact is the most interesting of this summer is due to the fact that when I was excavating it, I thought it was a hammer stone. A hammer stone could have had many uses, from being used to construct longhouses and sweat lodges, to creating other tools such as arrowheads, drills and scrapers of different sizes and shapes. It could even be used as a weapon. When I uncovered it from its place, however, I realized that although it was similar to a hammer stone and could perhaps be used in that way, it was more likely a grinder. I discovered this by examining the stone in my hand. I noticed that the stone fit in my hand almost like a car stick shifter. The bottom of the grinding stone is flat with a shallow indent, possibly the result of grinding some type of grain, nut or corn. So I believe this tool was used for preparing food, and as a second use could be as a hammer stone if needed. This tool, like several other stone tools found at the site, may have had multiple purposes. This ties back to how innovative our ancestors were.