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Archaeology site brimming with ancient artifacts

Karonhianoron Curotte’s been digging in the dirt on Ile St. Bernard looking for artifacts that will shed light on the history of the area. The team has found pieces ranging from broken glass to smoking pipes to ceramic objects. (Tehosterihens Deer, The Eastern Door)

An archaeological team, which began digging in late June, has started uncovering cool finds on Ile St. Bernard.

The team has a group of around 15 members, two of which are from Kahnawake. Katsi’tsahén:te Cross-Delisle and Karonhianoron Curotte currently help out the excavation as they learn what its like to be an archaeologist.

The crew, which goes under the name of Group 5A, was happy to find some interesting and strange artifacts.

“This is my first time, and I love it here,” said Curotte “I get to meet new people, and I learned a lot.”

The team has been able to find artifacts ranging from broken glass to smoking pipes to ceramic objects.

The crew uncovered a wall and an artifact dating back too over 1,000 years.

“Looking for traditional artifacts, that’s what interested me in doing this job,” said Curotte. “The manual labour is fun as well but seeing the designs they used on the artifacts blows your mind when looking at it firsthand.”

Group 5A learns how to find these items and how to mark and prepare it for cleaning.

“We screen everything, all the things that we find are put in bags and are identified with tags that label what layer it’s from. The most important thing is what layer it came from,” said supervisor Adrian Burke.

“I like it here, it’s a good site and there is much material here. The other places I’ve worked at had material, but it took longer to get some, whereas here we start digging and it’s all here,” said Cross-Delisle.

Cross-Delisle has around three years of experience in doing archaeological work through other workshops.

“We found little bones, we found a jaw, I found some teeth, I think they were from a pig or cow because this used to be a farm owned by nuns,” said Curotte.

The team is looking for anything from the past that is of archeological value.

In other areas of the site, there are old occupations, which they would find nails and pottery. Most of these artifacts would be French pottery, but the workers are finding pre-contact artifacts as well.

The program is already over two weeks in and has found some fantastic pieces.

“We have some pottery that we call middle woodland, which comes from the fifth century. The oldest pottery we found has a rim, and it ranges from 800-1000 years old,” said Burke.

The program comes with school credits, as it is a form of study. The program is four weeks long, and just enough time for the students to learn the basics.

“It’s hard work because we stop at 4 p.m. and continue working after dinner to wash the artifacts and fill out forms,” said Burke.

Burke has experience through years of studying archeology and excavating; he also has experience in surveying the Aztec regions.

“It’s amazing finding these stories and realizing how far away from home these artifacts were found,” said Curotte.

The crew plans to dig deep and the hardest part for them was the roots. While excavating, the team found an arrowhead, a fork, and bones of animals. Curotte and Cross-Delisle applied for the job through Tewatohnhi’saktha.

The program goes seven days-a-week ,and teaches the students the ins and outs of the study of archaeology.

“This area here is used as a summer camp for children and as a local, national park. We have the area blocked off from the public,” said Cross-Delisle. “There is an apple orchard, a pool and other activities but the team has been surveying the land for over five years now.”

The group goes through changes every summer and choose different areas to survey.

“We chose this place because it has two to three thousand years of history,” said Burke.

“We’re digging mostly to find occupations that got covered by dirt and time. The wall we found looks to be around 1700 during French occupation, we haven’t found much stuff in there. We assume it’s a barn,” he said.

“Right now we found many pieces of prehistoric pottery. There are a few huge pieces,” said Cross-Delisle.

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