Magazine article ROM Magazine

Toronto Underfoot

Magazine article ROM Magazine

Toronto Underfoot

Article excerpt

As an archaeologist, wherever I go, I ask, "What kind of archaeology is underfoot here? What did it feel like to be right here 500 or 5,000 years ago? How did the people who lived here solve the unique problems of being human in their short time in this place?" As the New World Archaeology technician at the ROM, I try to get visitors to think about these questions when I give tours behind the scenes. I try to find and anchor each visitor's curiosity to local archaeology, usually by pulling out an artifact that was found near the visitor's home. It's a fun challenge for me, and a possible touchstone for the visitor.

Toronto has phenomenal archaeology underfoot. We will showcase this archaeology going back ten millennia in the upcoming exhibit Toronto Underfoot. Here is one artifact from the Toronto Underfoot that can be a touchstone now.

Holcombe Projectile Point: This is the oldest artifact selected for the Toronto Underfoot exhibition. Due to its astonishing age and unconventional discovery, I'd like to share more of the story with you.

Age: Late Palaeo period (10,400-10,000 years old)

Find Spot: Forest Hill, Toronto

Detail: This stone projectile point was skillfully made from silica-rich black chert, found in local outcrops of the uplifted Gull River geological formation. This type of point, Holcombe, is the earliest un-fluted type that can be found in Ontario. Holcombe points are rare; this is only one of four found in Ontario. They were made and used by some of the earliest peoples to live here. And remarkably, this point is only 3 centimetres long.

Collection History: The most interesting part of this story is how it came to the Museum. The donor reported that she found it in grade school, in the 1970s near her schoolyard. At recess she scraped away a few surface leaves and it was lying there. …

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