Just like today, cultures of the past most commonly used ceramic for implements related to food and cooking - a fact which can often be confirmed by the presence of burning or food traces found on fragments of ceramic artifacts. In addition to serving this everyday function, ceramic vessels are often highly decorative and may be stamped, incised, or painted. During the preparation of clay for making these vessels, substances such as sand, shell fragments, or fragments of old vessels may be added according to availability to improve the strength or aesthetic effect of the vessel. Because of the fragile nature of ceramic artifacts, the discovery of completely intact artifacts is rare. To aid in the analysis of tiny sherds most commonly found, archaeologists classify sherds based on whether they are part of body, neck, or rim of the original vessel. Although cooking vessels are the most common type of ceramic artifact, Sustainable Archaeology's ceramic collections also include items such as pipes and trade beads.

Neck and shoulder sherds from the Gunby Site showing Borden Number and catalogue number.

Neck and shoulder sherds from the Gunby Site showing Borden Number and catalogue number.

Decorated rims (Slack-Caswell AfHa-1)

Decorated rims (Slack-Caswell AfHa-1)

Decorated Rim Sherds (Guyatt AgGw-4)

Decorated Rim Sherds (Guyatt AgGw-4)

Case Collection; no catalogue number; provenience unknown; stored in bag labelled "Case Collection Ceramics: rim sherds"

Decorated Rim Sherd (Parsons Site-AkGv-8)

Body sherds (Slack-Caswell AfHa-1)

Body sherds (Slack-Caswell AfHa-1)

Case Collection; no catalogue number; provenience unknown; stored in bag labelled "Ceramics: rim sherds, castellations, handle; Faunal bone frag."

Decorated Rim Sherd with Castellation (Parsons Site-AkGv-8)

Decorated sherds (Robertson AiHa-12)

Decorated sherds (Robertson AiHa-12)

Case Collection; no catalogue number; provenience unknown; stored in display cabinet

Castellated Ceramic Vessel Rim (Robuck)


Juvenile pot fragments (Guyatt AgGw-4)

Juvenile pot fragments (Guyatt AgGw-4)

Grit-tempered and ribbed sherds (Robertson AiHa-12)

Grit-tempered and ribbed sherds (Robertson AiHa-12)

Ceramic body sherds (Mannen Site AhHb-6)

Read about ceramics

Site Deception (AhGx-4)

Site Name: Site Deception County: Hamilton-Wentworth Borden Number: AhGx-4 Township: City of Hamilton Date Excavated: 1969 Investigated or Excavated By: William Fox, David M. Stothers, Ian Kenyon About the Site: Site Deception (AhGx-4), located along the southern shore of Cootes Paradise, west of Princess Point, was investigated by David Stothers in 1969 (Stothers 1969:14-15). The […]

Day of Archaeology 2016

Take a time trip beginning with the early formal archaeology and its avocational or ‘collector’ foundations and parallels in the Province, through the classic works of the 1950s and the heyday 1960s and 1970s, down through the development of legislation, great syntheses and compilations. Shortly thereafter, we mark the process of standardisation in the practice […]

Sassafras Point No. 1 (AhGx-3)

Site Name: Sassafras Point No. 1 County: Hamilton-Wentworth Borden Number: AhGx-3 Township: City of Hamilton Date Excavated: 1969 Excavated By: David M. Stothers, Ian Kenyon About the Site: Following earlier identification by Tim Kenyon and Ian Kenyon and mapping and Bordenising by Bill Fox (Bill Fox, pers. comm., July 14, 2016), the site was returned […]

The Legacy of Looting: The Darker Heritage of Archaeology Collections in Ontario

“…they actually had cemetery digging bees – just like you’d have a barn-raising bee. People would crowd in and just have a picnic lunch and dig through these graves, which is, I mean what can you say? There’s really no way of describing the wrongness of that. But that’s what happened…”  – Bill Fox “…how […]

Porteous: AgHb-1

Site Name: Porteous County: Brant Borden Number: AgHb-1 Township: Brantford Date Excavated: 1969 Excavated By: Ian Kenyon, Bill Noble About the Site: The Porteous Site is located southeast of Brantford, Ontario, which eventually became the city dump. Following concerns about the long-term preservation of the site due to dumping activities, it was excavated in October […]

Jackes-Eglinton Site

Site Name: Jackes-Eglinton County: York Borden Number: Township: Toronto Date Excavated: 1887-1950s Excavated By: David Boyle, Everett James Case About the Site: The Jackes (Eglinton) site is located northwest of Eglinton and Avenue Roads in Toronto, and is today covered by Allanby Public School and housing developments. However, it was the subject of archaeological investigation […]

Hood Site (AiHa-7)

Site Name: Hood County: Hamilton-Wentworth Borden Number: AiHa-7 Township: Carlisle Date Excavated: 1977 Excavated By: Paul A. Lennox About the Site: Located near Freelton, Ontario, the Hood Site (AiHa-7) was excavated by Paul A. Lennox in 1977. The extensive excavations targeted large midden deposits, the village palisade and 14 longhouses associated with a Neutral Iroquoian […]

Hamilton Site (AiHa-5)

Site Name: Hamilton County: Hamilton-Wentworth Borden Number: AiHa-5 Township: West Flamborough Date Excavated: 1970, 72, 76 Excavated By: W.C. Noble, H. Devereux, P. Lennox About the Site: Located in West Flamborough township, the Hamilton site (AiHa-5) was the subject of surface-collection for amateur archaeologist George Gee (of Dundas, Ontario) as early as 1960. In 1969, […]

Fonger Site (AhHb-8)

Site Name: Fonger County: Brant Borden Number: AhHb-8 Township: Brantford Date Excavated: 1978, 1979 Excavated By: Gary Warrick About the Site: Located on the eastern bank of the Fairchild Creek tributary, near Brantford, Ontario, the Fonger Site (AhHb-8) was identified as a protohistoric Neutral Iroquois village, ca. AD 1590-1630. The site was excavated under the […]

Artifacts on Air

The collections held by Sustainable Archaeology McMaster mean many things to many different people. A group of artifacts can tell a story about a way of life and affords insight into how people have lived and changed in the region over thousands of years. In the past (and unfortunately still sometimes today), descendant communities and […]

Sustainable Education: New Visions for Teaching in the Field

The McMaster archaeological field school, directed by Dr. Scott Martin, has created a lot of buzz here at Sustainable Archaeology, and it has got us thinking about current approaches to teaching and learning in the field and how they relate to our goals for collections management and research in Ontario. A couple weeks ago, the […]

Middleport: AgHa-2

Site Name: Middleport County: Brant Borden Number: AgHa-2 Township: Onondaga Date Excavated: early 20th century, onwards Collections from: Frank Wood and George Gee About the Site: The Middleport Site is a fourteenth-century Middle Ontario Iroquois site in Onondaga Township, Brant County. It was excavated and explored numerous times. In 1912, Sir Frances Knowles and F.W […]

Slack-Caswell: AfHa-1

Site Name: Slack-Caswell County: Haldimand Borden Number: AfHa-1 Township: Townsend Date Excavated: 1971 Excavated By: Susan Jamieson, Bill Fox About the Site: The Slack-Caswell site (AfHa-1), located in a wooded plateau near Rockford, Ontario, was excavated in 1971 following small test excavations that identified a concentration of artifacts. Excavations uncovered a longhouse and two midden […]

“Arch. in the Workplace”: Collections & Community

Access and engagement are pivotal values for Sustainable Archaeology, and we routinely take part in events that provide the opportunity for community engagement, such as Doors Open and Day of Archaeology 2015. This month, we were asked to put together two displays for the 20th exhibit of Art in the Workplace (AWP). This programme has […]

The Value of Legacies: Revisiting Collections at Sustainable Archaeology McMaster

There is no doubt that McMaster’s Department of Anthropology and Sustainable Archaeology have benefited from legacy collections. In our last post, we detailed our methods for processing these assemblages to ensure their preservation and facilitate their use by researchers today. As the McMaster Legacy Collection Project progresses, the value of these materials and their reuse […]

Savage Site (AdHm-29)

Site Name: Savage County: Kent Borden Number: AdHm-29 Township: Howard Date Excavated: 1982 Excavated By: Carl Murphy About the Site:The Savage Site (AdHm-29) is a small legacy collection from excavations of a Middle Ontario Iroquoian settlement dating to circa 1350 A.D., located northeast of Chatham, Ontario. The site contained one long house and one midden. […]