Friday, February 22, 2013

Sustainable Archaeology in the News

Sustainable Archaeology has been receiving both national and international exposure over the past few weeks. Notably, the project was the subject of an article in the Globe and Mail this week, featuring the labs and facility at SA: McMaster in Hamilton. Digital imaging of boxwood prayer beads by curators Alexandra Suda and Lisa Ellis of the Art Gallery of Ontario at SA: Western's digital imaging labs was featured in the Spring 2013 CODART eZine.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Visit to Sustainable Archaeology: McMaster

Last Friday, our team here at Sustainable Archaeology: Western took a road trip to visit Sustainable Archaeology: McMaster in Hamilton, Ontario. We met with Dr. Aubrey Cannon and Meghan Burchell of the McMaster facility to discuss the development of Sustainable Archaeology's database, and the integration of the collections held physically at the two facilities in London and Hamilton into the centralized Informational Platform. 

From left to right: Kira Westby, SA: Western, Dr. Aubrey Cannon and Meghan Burchell, SA: McMaster,
Dr. Rhonda Bathurst and Dr. Neal Ferris, SA: Western. Photo taken at the McMaster SA facility.

As mentioned in previous blog posts, the labs and storage repository of Sustainable Archaeology: McMaster have been integrated into a renovated facility that is part of McMaster Innovation Park. Like Sustainable Archaeology: Western, the McMaster repository space is outfitted with high density mobile shelving units, and will store materials in the same green archival-grade polypropylene boxes as the Western facility. The two facilities will follow the same policies and procedures for storing and managing collections, using archival-grade packaging materials to ensure longevity and research viability of collections. Although held physically in two different facilities, all collections held by Sustainable Archaeology will be incorporated into the single database system and research platform developed by Sustainable Archaeology, allowing broad access to these materials.

Sustainable Archaeology McMaster lab spaces are designed to enable focus on materials analysis, including petrographic, biogeochemical, zooarchaeological and geoarchaeological studies. The facility has a processing and wet lab (seen below), where artifacts, faunal and floral materials, as well as soils and sediments are processed, and where materials preparation and analysis can be performed, as well as a microscopy and analytical lab space that incorporates a number of powerful microscopes, used to facilitate study of micro-artifacts and to produce high resolution digital images. 

Over the next few months we'll be working closely with Sustainable Archaeology: McMaster to incorporate our inventory management system, which will allow us to track and manage collections held collectively by Sustainable Archaeology at the two facilities, and to finalize our policies for collections management. We'll also be working with our database team here at SA: Western and with SA: McMaster to begin testing the collections management portions of the database.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A microCT and Archaeobotanical Analysis of Charcoal

The microCT scanner at Sustainable Archaeology was used to non-destructively study charcoal remains from the Arkona site, a ca. AD 1200 Younge Phase village site in Ontario. The scanned charcoal was analyzed and identified by Ontario archaeobotanist Rudy Fecteau. Using the microCT allowed for the charred remains to be digitally "split" in order to examine internal structures while preserving the original specimen for future analysis.

As noted in the video, the species of the second charcoal sample was not determined, and we invite our blog readers to assist us with the identification. Below are two closeup images giving a closer look at the internal structures of the second sample. If you have an idea of what the species might be, let us know by commenting on the blog, by tweeting the answer to us (@SustArchaeology), or by posting on our Facebook page.

 Special thank you to Rudy Fecteau for providing feedback and analysis on our scans, and for the delicious strawberry loaf!