Peter Ramsden’s Day of Archaeology

Today I am engaged in analysis and writing of some Late Woodland / Huron materials that I excavated in the Balsam Lake area of southern Ontario a few decades ago.  I was investigating social, economic and political process among a group of early to late 16th century Huron communities that were undergoing quite a bit of disruption as a result of both in- and out-migrations and early interaction with Europeans in the St. Lawrence valley.  That interaction apparently caused some dissension within and between the communities, resulting in village fission and fusion, and the frequent formation and dissolution of alliances.  At the end of the 16th century, these communities finally united into a single large town, which then picked up and moved some 50 km westward to join other groups of Hurons in what would become the Huron confederacy.  Within the confederacy, these particular people became known to history as the Rock Nation, with whom the French soldier and explorer Champlain formed an alliance on behalf of the French crown in the early 17th century.


Today, specifically, I am re-examining and recording some of the artifacts from the Coulter site, the large cosmopolitan community mentioned above, into which the smaller Balsam Lake villages coalesced.  This is part of my long-overdue preparation for writing a book on the archaeological history of the Hurons of Balsam Lake, and their role in the formation of the Huron confederacy and its eventual downfall at the hands of the 5 Nations Iroquois.

Section through a defensive earthwork and ditch,at the early 16th C Jamieson site

Peter Ramsden looking at a rim section of a Huron pot, Coulter Site

Bone bead with carved human face on each side

Human effigy pipe bowl (ceramic); Kirche Site (ca AD 1550)