Telling Tales: Interpretive Trends in Southern Ontario Late Woodland Archaeology
Author: NEAL FERRIS
Page Range: 1 – 62
Abstract: The publication in 1966 of Jim Wright’s The Ontario Iroquois Tradition and his construction of the Late Woodland culture history for southern Ontario has had a tremendous impact on how this part of the archaeological record has been thought about since. Yet a critical component of this construct, often referred to as the Conquest Hypothesis or Theory, has always proven problematic and contentious, and generally has been rejected by Wright’s colleagues. This seeming paradox in rejecting a critical interpretative construct while embracing the model serves as the starting point here for examining the ways in which archaeologists have come to think about and interpret, and re-interpret the Late Woodland history of southern Ontario. In moving away from the normative assumptions inherent in the Ontario Iroquois Tradition model and actively engaging in broader theoretical discussion, Ontario archaeologists are beginning to ask different questions of – and apply new perspectives to – the archaeological record. What I offer here is an example of the kind of story that can be told based on such changing interpretive approaches to the Late Woodland period. Through application of a long-term, historical perspective to the archaeological record, and recognition of the role of agency, the period of the supposed Pickering Conquest is seen as representing both a range of variable local responses to on-going change, and strategies of response based on over a millennium of cultural development, rather than a sudden, militaristic ‘hiccup’ in between long periods of cultural equilibrium. I also intentionally offer here fictive vignettes, an informal voice, and play, all of which are intended to underscore the point that archaeology, ultimately, is about telling stories about the past. In the end, it is up to you, the audience, to decide whether this story ‘works,’ and if so, where it will go next.
Were “Utilized Flakes” Utilized? An Issue of Lithic Classification in Ontario Archaeology
Author: CHEN SHEN
Page Range: 63 – 73
Abstract: In this paper, I challenge the use of the ‘utilized flake’ category in current Ontario lithic classification. The typological systems that include ‘utilized flake’ as an independent category are problematic because ‘utilized flakes’ are not a unique type, but rather a group of flakes with edge-damage caused by use. Moreover, blind tests demonstrate the problems associated with accurately identifying utilization without magnification. Low power magnification analysis of specimens from two archaeological sites in southwestern Ontario demonstrates the advantages of this method over more subjective methods of identifying use-wear.