The accomplishments of ancient Mesopotamian society are being celebrated in a new Toronto exhibit, but the showcase is also shining a light on a contemporary crisis: the looting and destruction of artifacts, architecture and archeological sites in Syria.
The Royal Ontario Museum is unveiling Mesopotamia: Inventing Our World this weekend, the sole Canadian venue of the show’s international tour.
The exhibition explores more than 3,000 years of the ancient society’s story through more than 180 priceless artifacts drawn from the vast collection of the British Museum and bolstered by items from the ROM and museums in Chicago, Philadelphia and Detroit. Read more.
MONTREAL - Archeologist Bernard Hébert peered down at a vast open pit in Griffintown, where colleague Martin Royer, wearing construction boots and a hard hat, was examining the remains of a circular wall.
“He’s measuring the thickness of the walls. He’s looking at how the bricks were laid with mortar. And how the whole thing was held together, what foundations the bricks were resting on,” explained Hébert, a consultant with the Quebec Culture and Communications department.
Workers excavating for a condo tower at Ann and Ottawa Sts. last month uncovered the remains of a huge gas-holder used to store the fuel that lit Montreal’s streets back in the gaslight era. Read more.
Some 1,000 years ago, the Vikings set off on a voyage to Notre Dame Bay in modern-day Newfoundland, Canada, new evidence suggests.
The journey would have taken the Vikings, also called the Norse, from L’Anse aux Meadows on the northern tip of the same island to a densely populated part of Newfoundland and may have led to the first contact between Europeans and the indigenous people of the New World.
"This area of Notre Dame Bay was as good a candidate as any for that first contact between the Old World and the New World, and that’s kind of an exciting thing," said Kevin Smith, deputy director and chief curator of the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology at Brown University. Read more.
Pockets of water trapped in rocks from a Canadian mine are over a billion years old, and the water could contain life forms that can survive independently from the sun, scientists said this week.
The ancient water was collected from boreholes at Timmins Mine beneath Ontario, Canada, at a depth of about 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers).
"When these rocks formed, this part of Canada was the ocean floor," said study co-author Barbara Sherwood Lollar, an Earth scientist at Canada’s University of Toronto.
"When we go down [into the mine] with students, we like to say imagine you’re walking on the seafloor 2.6 billion years ago."
Working with U.K. colleagues Chris Ballentine and Greg Holland, Sherwood Lollar and her team found that the water was rich in dissolved gases such as hydrogen and methane, which could provide energy for microbes like those found around hydrothermal vents in the deep ocean. Read more.
One of Canada’s busiest harbours during the 18th century was located at Cape Breton’s Fortress Louisbourg.
Canada’s only team of underwater archaeologists are now searching the waters in Louisbourg and keeping an eye on the history below.
On Wednesday, the team searched the 250-year-old ruins of The Celeb, a 64-gun French warship that once protected the harbour.
“We return from time to time to Louisbourg to check up on the wrecks and see if there is any change,” says archaeologist Jonathan Moore.
The team dives into the chilly waters to do maintenance work and scrape kelp from the fragile structures.
They are also armed with underwater cameras and video equipment, capturing images of seven wrecks that remain from the 18th century. Read more.
It’s the oldest shipwreck ever found in Canada and one of the most important in the world: a 16th-century Basque whaling galleon that lies at the bottom of Labrador’s Red Bay, a sunken relic from the Age of Discovery that symbolizes the early spread of European civilization — and commerce — to the New World.
Now, the 450-year-old San Juan, a jumble of thick beams and broken barrels lying in shallow waters off the site of a 1560s-era whaling station in the Strait of Belle Isle, is to be resurrected by a team of Spanish maritime heritage experts planning to construct a full-scale, seaworthy replica of the original 16-metre, three-masted vessel. Read more.
In the 1950s, the now deceased Danish archaeologist Jørgen Meldgaard made a mysterious discovery in northeastern Canada:
A small, headless bear figurine, carved from a walrus tusk, was lying leaning up against the back wall of a stone fireplace in an old settlement. The bear had been positioned in a way that made it look as though it was ‘diving’ into the fireplace.
At the time, this little figurine didn’t cause much of a stir. It was just one out of a long series of discoveries that Meldgaard made during his field trips to the Igloolik region of Arctic Canada and Greenland in the 1950s and 1960s.
But when researchers at the Danish National Museum recently gained access to Meldgaard’s surviving diaries, records and photos, they realised that the discovery of the bear figurine was indeed quite sensational. Read more.
For the past 50 years—since the discovery of a thousand-year-old Viking way station in Newfoundland—archaeologists and amateur historians have combed North America’s east coast searching for traces of Viking visitors.
It has been a long, fruitless quest, littered with bizarre claims and embarrassing failures. But at a conference in Canada earlier this month, archaeologist Patricia Sutherland announced new evidence that points strongly to the discovery of the second Viking outpost ever discovered in the Americas.
While digging in the ruins of a centuries-old building on Baffin Island, far above the Arctic Circle, a team led by Sutherland, adjunct professor of archaeology at Memorial University in Newfoundland and a research fellow at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, found some very intriguing whetstones. Read more.