Category Archives: NORTH AMERICA

18th-Century Gun Piece Discovered in Michigan

18th-Century Gun Piece Discovered in Michigan

Archaeologists have unearthed an 18th-century serpent sideplate from a British trade gun at a historic Mackinaw City fort

An 18th-century serpent sideplate was uncovered by archeologists from a British trade weapon at a historic fort in Mackinaw City.

The nearly 5 inches (12.7 centimeters) long piece was found last Tuesday in Fort Michilimackinac. It’s believed to date back to the 1770s.

Lynn Evans, the curator of archaeology at Mackinac State Historic Parks, said only four gun parts have been found in that particular location in 12 years.

“All of a sudden, here’s something we haven’t been finding,” Evans said.

Fort Michilimackinac is a reconstructed 18th-century for a trading village on the Straits of Mackinac. Over the centuries, the area was home to Native Americans, the French and the British.

The finding is part of a long-running archaeological program at the park.

Excavations take place seven days a week for 12 weeks in the summer, giving visitors a chance to watch archaeology in action and ask the archaeologists questions, too.

This year marks the archaeological dig’s 60th anniversary, making it one of North America’s longest-running archaeology programs.

“It’s an unusual opportunity, and I think it’s great you can do it right here in Michigan,” Evans said.

The serpent sideplate will be taken to a lab to be washed, examined and labeled.

Over the coming winter, the sideplate and other items found during this summer’s dig will be cataloged and put into storage for future use by researchers or in exhibits, either at the fort or by loan to other institutions.

In addition to the serpent, 2019 discoveries have included a silver trade brooch, a door hinge and a large piece of feather creamware.

Evans said discoveries paint a richer picture of what life was like at the fort.

“We have a lot of documents about the fort, but we don’t have a lot of diaries,” Evans said. “What we find is not gonna change history, but it gives us such a better understanding of daily life here.”

Why an Unearthed, Ancient Clambake May Change Indigenous Fortunes in BC

One day between five and ten centuries ago, people living on what is now known as Keith Island finished eating a geoduck clam and placed its shell neatly alongside others.

The implications of that moment — brought to light this month by archeologists — loom large for Indigenous nations pursuing the right to harvest and sell geoduck clams on their territories in British Columbia. rest of the Article read at “thetyee.ca

Viking Sex Slaves, Behind The Founding Of Iceland

Viking Sex Slaves – The Dirty Secret Behind The Founding Of Iceland

Thingvellir National Park in Iceland.
Thingvellir National Park in Iceland.

Iceland has become among millennials a famous tourist destination with its incredible landscape, friendly people, and cheap flights.

Although, if any found themselves in Reykjavik and took a trip to the National Museum of Iceland, they might find a display there with an interesting statistic. In fact, it’s a statistic with some dark implications for Iceland’s past.

After analyzing the DNA of modern Icelanders, scientists have been able to come up with a fairly accurate idea of what the founding population of the country looked like.

Around 80% of Icelandic men were Norse, hailing from Scandinavian countries like Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. Of course, as a colony founded by Norse settlers, that’s to be expected.

But based on the mitochondrial DNA, which is only passed down in the female line, we know that over half of the female settlers were Celtic, meaning they came from Ireland, Scotland, and the northwestern islands of Britain. So essentially, the founders of Iceland were a strange combination of Norse men and Celtic women.

At first glance, that fact is just an interesting bit of genealogy. But it quickly grows more disturbing the more you think about it. After all, the people who settled Iceland were also the same people who produced the infamous Vikings.

However, as most people know, the Vikings had a habit of carrying off slaves. Given the genetics of Iceland and the nature of the people who settled it, it’s possible that a large percentage of the first women in Iceland were taken there as slaves.

Slavery played a much larger part in Norse society than most people are aware of. Slaves, or “thralls” as they were called, were present in most Norse communities, with many being taken in Viking raids across Europe. While the warriors spent most of their time fighting or drinking, it was up to slaves to do a great deal of the work around the village.

In fact, it was a serious insult to a Viking to say that he had to milk his own cows. That was considered work for slaves and women, and with so many around, no free-born Norseman needed to milk any cows.

The lives of slaves were often quite brutal. Slaves were regularly subjected to violence, both as punishment and for religious reasons. When their masters died, slaves were often murdered so that they could serve them in death as they had in life.

A depiction of Viking raiders.

Above all, Vikings prized young female slaves. These girls taken in raids could expect to be raped regularly while being pressed into a life of domestic servitude. The desire for women might even explain a lot about why Vikings began to raid Britain in the 9th century.

Some scholars have suggested that early Norse society was polygamous, and powerful chiefs married multiple wives, leaving none for other men.

According to this theory, Vikings first took to the seas to find women because there were few available in Scandinavia.

This theory could also explain why Vikings leaving to settle Iceland would have looked to Britain as a source of women.

There simply weren’t enough available women in Scandinavia to help settle the island. If this is the case, then the settling of Iceland involved Norse raiders making stops in Britain on the way, killing the men, and carrying off the women.

Once on the island, it’s harder to say what these women’s lives might have been like. Some historians have suggested that though they started out as slaves, the Norsemen in Iceland eventually took the women as wives. If so, then they may have treated them with a basic level of respect. Norse culture placed a heavy emphasis on maintaining a happy household with a spouse.

Others have suggested that these women may have willingly gone to Iceland with Norsemen who settled in their communities. But the Vikings were never shy about taking slaves, and there certainly were slaves in Iceland.

The most likely explanation is that there were Celts who volunteered to go to Iceland as well as Celtic women who were taken there as slaves. That means that, on some level, sexual slavery played a significant role in the settlement of Iceland.

The dog who got MUMMIFIED inside a tree trunk

Meet “Stuckie” — The Mummified Dog Who Has Been Stuck In A Tree For Over 50 Years

Stuckie, as the dog is affectionately known now, still stuck in his tree more than 50 years later.
Stuckie, as the dog is affectionately known now, still stuck in his tree more than 50 years later.

Loggers expect to come across some things when they cut down trees. Bird’s nests and things stuck in the branches seem like a given – a mummified dog in the center of a tree, however, does not.

But that’s exactly what a team of loggers with the Georgia Kraft Corp. found while cutting down a tree in the 1980s.

The loggers were working on a grove of chestnut oaks in southern Georgia when they found a most unusual sight.

After cutting off the top of the tree, and loading it onto a truck for transport, a member of the team happened to peer down the hollow trunk.

Inside, he found the perfectly mummified remains of a dog, looking back at him, its teeth still bared in a fight for survival.

Experts who studied the carcass concluded that the pup was most likely a hunting dog from the 1960s, who had chased something such as a squirrel through a hole in the roots, and up the center of the hollow tree.

The higher the dog got, however, the narrower the tree became. From the position of the dog’s paws, experts believe that it continued to climb until it effectively wedged itself in. Unable to turn around, the dog died.

Due to a perfect set of circumstances, however, though it was dead, it was not forgotten.

Normally, a dog that had died in the wild would succumb to decay and be eaten by other foragers.

However, as the dog had died inside a tree, it was unlikely that other animals could reach it – and, due to the height of the body, it was unlikely that other animals could smell it either.

Additionally, the kind of tree that the dog had lodged itself in was uniquely qualified to lend itself to the natural mummification process.

Chestnut oaks contain tannins, which are used in taxidermy and tanning to treat animal pelts so that they don’t decay. The tannins from the inside of the tree seeped out into the dog and prevented it from rotting inside.

The dry environment inside the trunk also provided shelter from the elements and sucked the moisture from the carcass. The air that was sucked into the tree through the base created a sort of vacuum effect, further contributing to the drying process.

After finding the mummified pup, the loggers decided to take it to a museum, to show off the rare sight to the world.

The dog, now affectionately called “Stuckie,” resides at the Southern Forest World museum, still encased in his woody tomb, and on display for the world to see.

Ancient Egyptian Mummy Linen Fragments Seized in Michigan

Ancient Egyptian Mummy Linen Fragments Seized in Michigan

U.S. border officials say they have seized ancient Egyptian mummy linens during enforcement operations at the Blue Water Bridge that connects Port Huron, Mich., to Sarnia, Ont. 

Five containers containing the artifacts were seized on May 25 following the selection of the truck for examination in Michigan near Sarnia, Ont., the U.S. Customs and Border Protection said.

The artifacts had come from Canada in a bulk mail shipment, and were being shipped to a home in the United States, Kris Grogan, spokesman for the agency, said in an interview.

“It’s taken some time to identify what they were,” Grogan said. “We’ve had to work with the State Department as well as other federal agencies in identifying this.”

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced Wednesday officers seized a package of five jars of containing the artifacts found May 25 on a Canadian mail truck.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced Wednesday officers seized a package of five jars of containing the artifacts found May 25 on a Canadian mail truck.

The artifacts would be sent back to Egypt in the near future, Grogan said.

In a statement, the agency said the importer was unable to prove the linens had been taken out of Egypt before 2016.

That could be a violation of the U.S. Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act, a federal law that allows American authorities to impose import restrictions on certain classes of archeological material.

Authorities said they worked with an unidentified archeological organization to pin down the age of the artifacts, which are believed to date back to the Ptolemaic Dynasty from 305-30 B.C.

One expert in antiquities, Sue McGovern-Huffman, said trying to illegally buy ancient artifacts is more trouble than it’s worth no matter what era the object is from.

“If it’s been illegally taken out of the country, it’s got a zero value as far as the commercial market is concerned,” McGovern-Huffman, president of Sands of Time Antiquities, said from Washington, D.C.

Without an artifact’s provenance or proof of ownership and history, even illegally selling ancient artifacts would be difficult for any dealer on the black market, she said.

McGovern-Huffman, an accredited member of the International Society of Appraisers, said pieces like ancient mummy linens have more archeological or study interest than collector interest.

“These fragments have very little value. There are all these reports of antiquities selling for millions and billions of dollars on the black market and it’s completely wrong,” she said. “You’d be lucky to get $50 for this stuff.”

Michael Fox, the customs agency director in Port Huron, Mich., said the seizure was of “historical importance.”

Grogan said no arrests have been made as it remains unclear who might be criminally responsible.

‘Extraordinary archaeological find’: Last known US slave ship found in Alabama

‘Extraordinary archaeological find’: Last known US slave ship found in Alabama

'Extraordinary archaeological find': Last known US slave ship found in Alabama
It was torched and then sunk to the bottom of a river, but historians say they have now identified the remains of the last ship to carry slaves to the U.S.

The last U.S. slave ship, the Clotilda, was finally located at the bottom of the Mobile River in Alabama after a lot of searching.

The announcement comes one year after the release of the lost interview with a survivor of that ship by Zora Neale Hurston, and only a month after a scholar discovered that the last survivor of Clotilda lived until 1937.

It holds special significance for the residents of Africatown, Alabama, many of whom are descended from the Africans illegally trafficked on the Clotilda in 1860.

“It’s a wonderful discovery,” says Sylviane A. Diouf, a visiting scholar at Brown University’s Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice and author of Dreams of Africa in Alabama: The Slave Ship Clotilda and the Story of the Last Africans Brought to America.

“This is the only one so far that has been found which came directly from Africa to the Americas with people on board.” (The recently-discovered São José was on its way to Brazil but crashed in South Africa near Cape Town.)

The discovery is also significant because the Clotilda is already the most well-documented slave ship story in the Americas. “If it had only been a ship without the story, then that’s interesting,” Diouf says. “But we have the entire story.

So this is the first time that we have the entire story of what happened to the people who were on the ship and we have the ship as well.”The research initiative that found the Clotilda was partly motivated by the discovery of another ship in January 2018 that some thought might have been the Clotlida.

Afterward, the Alabama Historical Commission funded further efforts to find the Clotilda, which a slave trader had burned and then sunk to the bottom of the river to hide the evidence of its illegal journey.

Excavators ended up combing through a section of the Mobile River that had never been dredged before. Among the many sunken ships there, they found one that historians could confidently say matched the description of the Clotilda.

On January 2, 2018, in Mobile County, Alabama, remains of a ship were found that were originally believed to be the Clotilda, the last documented slave ship to have delivered captive Africans to the United States.

The more than 100 African children, teenagers and young adults on the Clotilda arrived in Alabama just one year before the Civil War.

When the U.S. officially abolished slavery in 1865, these young people had no means to travel back home, so some created a community called “African Town” in Alabama. The town helped preserve the stories of these people, some of whom carried their memories of capture and enslavement into the 20th century.

Unlike most slave ship survivors in history who remained largely undocumented, we have pictures and interviews of people who came over on the Clotilda. We even have film footage of the last known survivor, a woman born with the name “Redoshi” who went by “Sally Smith.”

When Zora Neale Hurston interviewed Cudjo Lewis, a founding member of African Town in the 1920s and ‘30s, he could still remember the disorienting trauma of being captured and enslaved at age 19.

“We doan know why we be bring ’way from our country to work lak dis,” said Lewis, originally named “Kossula.” “Everybody lookee at us strange. We want to talk wid de udder colored folkses but dey doan know whut we say.”

It’s not clear what will happen to the Clotilda’s remains, but residents of Africatown hope to highlight it in a way that draws tourism and business.

Africatown is home to a low-income community that has survived Hurricane Katrina and dangerous levels of industrial pollution, including from the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

One option is to create a water memorial that people can visit, like the one commemorating the U.S.S. Arizona in Pearl Harbor.“As a symbol, I think it’s crucial,” Diouf says of the discovery. “And I think for Africatown today, which is really a community that is struggling very much, it really puts Africatown on the map. And hopefully some good will come out of it.”

Source: usatoday

19th-Century Military Complex Unearthed in Canada

19th-Century Military Complex Unearthed in Canada

Workers on Parliament Hill dig through the remains of one of the three barracks used to house soldiers and their wives from 1826 to the late 1850s, during the initial stages of the Rideau Canal's construction.
Workers on Parliament Hill dig through the remains of one of the three barracks used to house soldiers and their wives from 1826 to the late 1850s, during the initial stages of the Rideau Canal’s construction. 

The remains of a military complex that predates both the Confederation and the foundation of Ottawa are buried under the flowers, trees and statues dotting Parliament Hill’s grounds.

Since April, an archeology team has been working to unravel the complex’s ruins as part of Center Block’s ongoing renovations.

What they’ve uncovered so far — barracks, an old guardhouse, and what was the former city of Bytown’s first jail — is just a small tidbit of what may be to come.

The complex contains the remnants of what existed on Parliament Hill before Centre Block was built, during the time the Rideau Canal was first being constructed.

“This was the headquarters for the entire canal construction for the soldiers,” said Stephen Jarrett, archeology project manager with Centrus, a consortium providing architectural and engineering services for the Centre Block rehabilitation project.

Coins, military tags, other items

The canal’s construction was overseen by Lt. Col. John By, for whom Bytown was named.

Three barracks, a guardhouse, a jail, stables, and cookhouses were all built on the north half of the hill starting in 1826 for the Royal Sappers and Miners Regiment, who were tasked with the backbreaking work of digging out more than 200 kilometers of earth from the Ottawa River to Kingston, Ont.

The items uncovered so far include a range of military items: chin straps, tags, gorgets  — which officers often wore to hold their neckties in place — and other domestic items, like coins.

Many of the items uncovered during the excavation date to the early 19th century, when time the Royal Sappers and Miners had a military complex on the hill during the construction of the Rideau Canal.
Many of the items uncovered during the excavation date to the early 19th century, when time the Royal Sappers and Miners had a military complex on the hill during the construction of the Rideau Canal.
Two coins from 1813 and 1844 were uncovered on Thursday. 

Check the outhouses

But there might be more left to uncover, in a somewhat unusual spot: the privies.”It’s an excellent place to dispose of things,” said Jarrett.

The complex had several multi-chambered outhouses to accommodate the 150 soldiers, plus around 40 of their wives, who all lived in the barracks.

With no modern-day plumbing, it doesn’t take much to imagine the odour.”You need to keep the smell down from the human waste, and so you put fill layers on top in order to keep the smell down,” Jarrett said.”So that comes with all the broken dishes and anything else that can help keep that smell down.

Stephen Jarrett is the project manager for the excavation taking place on Parliament Hill.
Stephen Jarrett is the project manager for the excavation taking place on Parliament Hill. 

“One such latrine was built south of where the entrance to the Senate is now, near the east side of Centre Block. But there are likely many more dotting Parliament Hill.”

Privies fill up over time,” Jarrett said. “So they do get moved through time, as well.”

Ottawa’s first jail

Bytown became a city and was renamed Ottawa on New Year’s Day, 1855.

Before Ottawa became the country’s capital — or even a city, for that matter — it was a small town that didn’t have a jail. Prisoners had to be held at the courthouse in Perth, Ont., instead.

An 1853 map of Barrack Hill — now known as Parliament Hill — shows where the soldiers' barracks, officers' quarters, stables and guardhouse used to be.
An 1853 map of Barrack Hill — now known as Parliament Hill — shows where the soldiers’ barracks, officers’ quarters, stables and guardhouse used to be. 

The military had the only three cells in the community, located in the back of the jailhouse (which was later converted to a hospital).”The three cells were some of the only places to hold individuals properly,” Jarrett said. “So the military allowed the constables to hold prisoners inside their jailhouse until they were able to transport them all the way to [Perth].”Three years after Ottawa came into existence, it was named the capital of the United Province of Canada by Queen Victoria.

Soon afterward, the military complex was demolished so that the first parliament buildings could go up.

The excavation of the guardhouse and barracks is set to be completed by the fall. It’s expected to cost around $1.2 million and is being paid for by Public Services and Procurement Canada as part of the budget for the Centre Block renovations.

The artifacts will be cleaned and analyzed by the department before being put on display for the public.

A worker sifts through the remnants of the site of the old guardhouse and jail cells just east of Centre Block. A variety of items have been found there, including pins and chin straps.
A worker sifts through the remnants of the site of the old guardhouse and jail cells just east of Centre Block. A variety of items have been found there, including pins and chin straps. 

Why this retired archeologist is convinced New Brunswick is home to a lost Viking settlement

Why this retired archeologist is convinced New Brunswick is home to a lost Viking settlement

Birgitta Wallace, a Parks Canada researcher, in Greenland.

Did Vikings visit New Brunswick’s Miramichi and Chaleur Bay areas? According to the research done by Birgitta Wallace, senior archaeologist emerita with Parks Canada, they did. 

“I’m really convinced that the Vikings did visit that area. Not all my colleagues would agree with me,” said the woman who’s been studying Vikings for 50 years.

While she is certain the Vikings did spend time in Miramichi and Chaleur Bay, she says she is not hopeful of ever finding anything to prove it.

Wallace said she determined that the second location that Vikings visited in North America, known as “Hóp,” meaning “tidal lagoon,” was in the Miramichi and Chaleur region after she studied the Vikings sagas. She also drew on her extensive work at L’Anse aux Meadows, located on the very northern tip of Newfoundland. 

Sagas tell Viking history

The sagas are contained in medieval documentation from Iceland that goes back to the oral history of the Vikings. They were not written down until 300 years after the actual events occurred, so Wallace said the oral telling of the stories may have changed a bit over time. “There are two separate manuscripts…that talk about voyages to what must be North America because it’s land west and south of Greenland.” 

Wallace said while Vikings settled on Iceland and then Greenland, they continued exploring — either by accident or intentionally – to new lands. “These were people who just settled in Greenland in 985. They were immigrating there from Iceland.” Wallace said when voyages began between Norway or Iceland and Greenland, it was inevitable that someone would get blown off course. She believes this is how they found North America. 

Two versions

The archaeologist said there are two versions of the story. One talks about Leif Erikson retracing the watery path of one of these off-course trips, but it only talks about one settlement where he built a base camp and made four expeditions. 

The other story features a different person and combines all the expeditions into one that go between two areas: “Hóp,” meaning “tidal lagoon,” a summer camp and a settlement further north described as being in fjord. 

Vikings settled at the L’Anse aux Meadows site on the northern peninsula of Newfoundland. 

“After working a lot with the  L’Anse Meadows and what we found there, it’s really clear that L’Anse Meadows is base camp…it fits with everything,” said Wallace. “And from that camp… we know they went farther south and we know they must have gone as far south as eastern New Brunswick.” 

Wallace believes those explorations were done through the Gulf of St. Lawrence, which would have led the Vikings to find the Miramichi and Chaleur regions. Wallace based her conclusions on the finding of pieces of wood, butternuts and butternut wood at the L’Anse Meadows camp.”And butternuts have never grown north of northeastern New Brunswick. They are not native to either P.E.I. or Nova Scotia, so New Brunswick is the closest location.” 

Description fits

Wallace said the descriptions in the sagas match that part of N.B. well. “It talks about sandbars outside the coast, rivers and wonderful hardwoods and not the least, wild grapes. And it so happens that butternuts grow in pretty much the same location as grapes and ripen at the same time,” she said.  

“So, whoever picked those nuts would have seen those grapes.”

Situated in Newfoundland and Labrador, L’Anse aux Meadows is believed to be where the the Vikings, the first Europeans, landed in the new world. In 1978 it became a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Wallace said the area would have been considered of great importance because it was called Vinland in the saga, which means wine land.”Vinland wasn’t one particular spot, it was land like Iceland and Greenland, a country or region.” 

The archaeologist says she believes about 40 men would spend 3 months exploring the region, sleeping in structures built with turf with no permanent roofs, just a canvas-like material.”And to find anything like that after 1,000 years, people that were very anxious I’m sure to take all their tools and belongings with them back, it’s not very likely that we can ever find particular, physical evidence like we do have in L’Anse Meadows.” 

Encounters with Indigenous inhabitants

But Wallace points out another strong indication the Vikings visited the area is found in the strong similarities of the descriptions in Leif Erikson’s saga and Jacques Cartier’s journal.

“It is exactly the same type of description.” Her belief is strengthened by the saga’s description of the Vikings encounters with most of the Indigenous inhabitants at “Hóp.” “That would fit this area very well,” she said.

Birgitta Wallace says the Vikings likely encountered the Indigenous inhabitants of Metepenagiag. 

“It would be the ancestors of Mi’kmaq and you have Red Bank, Metepenagiag which has been inhabited for 3,000 years or more.” Wallace is finding the sudden interest in this part of the story of the Vikings’ expedition humorous considering she’s been researching and writing about it for several years. She thinks an article she recently had published is the reason. “Somehow, it grabbed people’s attention,” she said with a laugh. “The interest in Vikings is astounding to me.” 

Source: nationalpost