The Archaeological Survey in Numbers 2016 – Part One: Archaeological Permits

Today’s blog post is the first of a series of infographics exploring archaeological research permits and archaeological sites recorded in 2016 and all the way back to 1973 at the Archaeological Survey.

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Christmas at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village 2017

The Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village is a major open-air museum with the network of provincial historic sites and museums operated by Alberta Culture and Tourism. Located 50 km east of Edmonton, the museum preserves more than 35 historic structures and interprets the lives of Ukrainian settlers in east central Alberta between the years of 1892 and 1930. Based on extensive contextual and site specific research, the museum is an important steward of the intangible cultural heritage of Alberta’s Ukrainian settlers. (more…)

Ask an Expert and Happy New Year 2017

Happy New Year to everyone! We are excited for the New Year and look forward to sharing more of Alberta’s history with our readers. As many of you know, 2017 marks Canada’s 150th anniversary. We hope to touch on this theme throughout the year and highlight the role that Alberta has played in the country’s history. Another goal we have for this year is to connect with our readers more. We want to know what you would like to learn about! So, we are launching a new initiative called Ask an Expert.

Ask an Expert

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The Historic Resources Management Branch of Alberta Culture and Tourism is responsible for the identification and conservation of historic resources in Alberta. Historic Resources include historic places and structures, archaeological sites and artifacts, and traditional use sites. We also deal with geographic place names in the province.

Do you have a question about any of the following topics (related to Alberta)?

  • Historic Places
  • Provincial Historic Resources
  • Heritage Conservation
  • Historic Structures
  • Geographic Place Names
  • Archaeology

If so, we’d love to hear from you! You can submit your question by commenting on any one of our blog posts (preferably related to the topic), or you can leave a comment on our Facebook page or tweet at us on Twitter.

Facebook: Alberta’s Historic Places

Twitter: @ABHistoricPlace

When we receive questions we will track down our resident experts to answer them for you. The answers will be in the form of blog posts or videos.

To get things started we will be giving away a one-time admission pass to one of Alberta’s historic sites or museums to the person whose question we choose for the first Ask An Expert feature! http://www.culture.alberta.ca/heritage-and-museums/museums-and-historic-sites/

Cheers to 2017! We look forward to your questions.

Happy Holidays 2016!

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The staff of the Historic Resources Management Branch wish you a safe and happy holiday season. If you missed it last week, our holiday post was about St. Nicholas Peak!

RETROactive hit a big milestone this year – 5 years of publication and over 250,000 views all time! Thanks to you, our amazing readers, for your support. We couldn’t have done it without you!

Our top 5 posts of 2016 were:

  1. Hollywood in the Canadian Rockies
  2. Changing Animals: Alberta’s Ice Age Megafauna and Wally’s Beach
  3. Blood Kettles and Buffalo Jumps: Communal Hunting on the Plains of Alberta
  4. Alberta on Fire: A History of Cultural Burning
  5. Power and Powder: Early Guns in Alberta

RETROactive will be taking a break over the holidays — we will resume publishing on January 4th, 2017. We look forward to seeing you all in the New Year!

Courtesy of Amanda Dow

Back on the Horse: Spreading Archaeology in Alberta

The Archaeological Survey of Alberta is proud to announce the re-establishment of an occasional paper series that served as the principal means of sharing archaeological information in the province from 1976 to 1994. The series consisted of annual review volumes (with papers that summarized a years’ worth of archaeological projects) and thematic volumes that showcased current projects and research pertaining to a specific region or topic in Alberta archaeology (past volumes can be accessed here). To kick-off the series revival, we present a volume of 16 articles led by current and former staff of the Archaeological Survey of Alberta and Royal Alberta Museum. The articles present new methods, approaches, and results of archaeology in the province. The current and all future volumes will be available for free download.

Back Cover No. 36

Back Cover No. 36

Who is this by and who is it for?

 In keeping with tradition, we hope that future issues of the Archaeological Survey of Alberta’s Occasional Paper Series (nick named the ‘Blue Book series’ because of the blue covers) will feature work by archaeological consultants, university students and professors, and other professional archaeologists working in Alberta. Any practicing archaeologist is welcome to submit a paper: click here for further information about submissions and guidelines. Papers can be based on cultural resource management policy, archaeological best practices, guidelines, methods, academic research, summaries of archaeological projects, or in-depth investigations of particular facets of Alberta’s archaeological record. The audience of the revived Blue Book series includes professional archaeologists, avocational archaeologists, students of the discipline, and interested members of the public.

Why is this important?   

Archaeological resources are protected in Alberta by our Historic Resources Act: to demonstrate why that act, and Alberta’s record of past human activity, are important, we need a venue to share archaeological information. The Blue Book offers a place to showcase the amazing, inspiring, and humbling records of people that shaped this province. And it creates a dialogue to openly discuss how best to protect that past while recognizing the needs of modern Albertans to continue to develop the province. The intents of the Archaeological Survey of Alberta’s revived Blue Book series are to stimulate, illuminate, and debate the records and practices of archaeological work in the province.

Written By: Robin Woywitka, Cultural Land Use Analyst, Archaeological Survey of Alberta

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St. Nicholas Peak, North elevation as seen from the Wapta Icefield, 1903. Photograph taken by Arthur Oliver Wheeler.(The “Santa Claus” gendarme is the small rocky projection on the right side of the peak).  
Image Source: Source: Mountain Legacy Project, 85.

St. Nicholas Peak

You better watch out
You better not cry
You better not pout
I’m telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town.

He sees you when you’re sleeping,
He knows when you’re awake,
He knows when you’ve been bad or good,
So be good for goodness sake!
(J.F. Coots & H. Gillespie, 1934, © EMI Feist Catalog Inc; Haven Gillespie Music)

How can Santa Claus see all of this? How can he know what we are doing all of the time? Where exactly does he get his information? While some more imaginative people believe that Santa Claus must have magical, all-knowing, all-seeing powers. Other, more practical-minded folk, insist that he must have a vast network of elfin spies keeping tabs on every boy and girl in his domain. However, here in Alberta we know better. Santa Claus obviously does his recon from his lofty vantage point in the Canadian Rockies from which he can see great distances – perhaps even into your own home (and isn’t that just a little bit creepy?).

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St. Nicholas Peak, North elevation as seen from the Wapta Icefield, 1903. Photograph taken by Arthur Oliver Wheeler. The “Santa Claus” gendarme is the small rocky projection on the right side of the peak. Image Source: Source: Mountain Legacy Project, 85.

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From North Dakota with Flair

The St. Mary Reservoir, near Cardston in southern Alberta, was built and filled by the early 1950s. During reservoir draw downs and droughts, lake bottom sediments are exposed and quickly eroded, which has revealed a unique collection of artifacts and even trackways of now extinct megafauna like mammoth and camel.

Two particularly interesting artifacts are termed ‘eccentrics’ because their shape and significance are so unusual. Eccentrics are very rare artifacts, the shapes of which are thought to be determined more by aesthetic rather than functional reasons. Some archaeologists think that the large flintknapped stone artifacts from St. Mary Reservoir are symbolic representations of the branched “horns” of pronghorn antelope once common across the Great Plains. Others think they may have been ceremonial knives used on special occasions.

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Knife River Flint ‘eccentrics’ from St. Mary Reservoir. The different colourations of these pieces are due to ‘patination’. This is when a chemical rind develops over time around particular edges or faces of artifacts depending on their exposure to different local conditions (courtesy of Shayne Tolman).

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