Monday, June 13, 2016

Burying Ontario prehistory

Archaeology at the new downtown Toronto courthouse site

In the Toronto Star, journalist John Lorinc and archaeologist Ron Williamson expose a crazy situation in Ontario archaeology.

They remind us that Ontario requires archaeological consultants retained by the public sector or developers for archaeological projects in the province to hold the artifacts they may find in trust for the people of Ontario. But:
Queen Park has for years steadfastly refused to pass laws and provide funding to ensure these objects find their way into archives, museums or back to their rightful owners.
Consequently, some 20,000 boxes of artifacts, many filled with the material evidence of the lives of pre-contact indigenous peoples, languish in storage lockers, garages or the basements of archaeologists. While perhaps catalogued, these objects aren’t readily available to researchers, much less the general public, and, in many cases are simply forgotten.
The rich irony is that while Ontario has North America’s most robust archaeological preservation policy, almost no effort is made to interpret, commemorate and study those artifacts because the rules fall silent when it comes to the question of how to manage the material once it comes out of the ground.
Ontario has the Royal Ontario Museum, but no museum of Ontario.  And, evidently, not much in the way of a museum of Ontario prehistory either.

Image: TorStar. H/t: Andrew Stewart.
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