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Ontario Archaeology – OA075, 2003

Ojibwa Pictography: The Origins of Writing and the Rise of Social Complexity
Volume:  OA75
Year:  2003
Page Range:  3 – 16
Abstract:  Epigraphers tracing the origins of writing in human history have traditionally identified alphabetical systems as the only form of true writing and pictorial systems as an entirely separate category on the basis that the former communicated the precision of speech while the latter communicated meaning in only a general way without the intervention of spoken language. An investigation of Ojibwa pictography argues against any clear separation between word and image and validates the argument of some recent epigraphers that pictorial and other semasiographic systems should be recognized as forms of writing. This paper distinguishes the iconic imagery of rock art from the more structured narrative imagery of the bark scrolls.The latter functioned as narrative texts and were used, stored, read, and cherished by the Ojibwa in much the same way as the holy books of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. This paper argues for a continuum in the history of writing between pictorial and phonetic writing and a parallelism between the emergence of social complexity and the origins of alphabetical systems.

On the Nature of Archaeology in the Ottawa Area and Archaeological Mysteries
Volume:  OA75
Year:  2003
Page Range:  17 – 28
Abstract:  Scientific discourse usually takes place within the pages of journals published by scholarly societies. The goal is to create a corpus of information that can be referred to and added to by later research. A recently rediscovered, unsigned newspaper article published days following the excavation of the Ottawa Ossuary by Dr. Edward Van Cortlandt shares some points with Dr. Van Cortlandt’s own account published in the Canadian Journal of 1853. While there are clear similarities between the two documents, there are also important differences that are not easily reconciled. This instance reminds us of the importance of publications of record published by learned societies. It also cautions us against the uncritical acceptance of unverifiable information.

Henry Montgomery, PhD (1849-1919): Professor of Archaeologic Geology
Volume:  OA75
Year:  2003
Page Range:  29 – 37
Abstract:  No Abstract