Bringing the Past to the Present for the Future



Thursday, July 19, 2007

Heritage Designation and Property Values: is there an

Robert Shipley


This paper describes research that was designed to examine the assertion that historic designation of properties, under the heritage legislation in Canada’s largest province, has a negative impact on the values of those properties. The actual selling price of subject properties was used to establish their value history trends, which were then compared to ambient market trends within the same communities. Almost 3,000 properties in twenty-four communities were investigated, in what is believed to be the largest study of its kind ever undertaken in North America. It was found that heritage designation could not be shown to have a negative impact. In fact there appears to be a distinct and generally robust market in designated heritage properties. They generally perform well in the market, with 74% doing average or better than average. The rate of sale among designated properties is as good or better than the ambient market trends and the values of heritage properties tend to be resistant to downturns in the general market.

Key words: Canada; Heritage; Historic Preservation; Listed Buildings; Property Values

By international standards the process for recognising the significance of heritage buildings in Ontario, Canada’s largest and most populous province, is not very rigorous. The basis of heritage preservation is, of course, the same as in other jurisdictions; that each generation should attempt to pass on cultural values through heritage sites that represent them.1 In 1975 the Provincial government proclaimed the Ontario Heritage Act. The guiding principles behind the Act can be found in the 1964 Venice Charter produced by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), to which Canada is a signatory.

The Ontario Heritage Act gives responsibility for heritage to local governments. Individual properties can be designated under the Ontario Heritage Act and there is also a provision for the designation of `heritage districts’ where entire neighbourhoods of historical significance can be recognised. The criteria for designation are quite general with guidelines that require structures be judged to have `historic or architectural significance.'

To accomplish this recognition of heritage the Ontario legislation encourages
municipalities to establish Local Architectural Conservation Advisory Committees (LACACs). However, these committees of appointed volunteers can only recommend the designation of historically and architecturally significant properties to their municipal councils. Once designated, any planned changes to a property (usually just the building exterior) must be reviewed by the LACAC, which advise the local council which then makes the final decision. In the end, if the owner of a designated property decides to demolish the structure there is only provision for a waiting period of a few months.

The fact that the province has delegated the responsibility of heritage designation to the municipalities has had at least two outcomes. On one hand the local community can be said to be best suited to determine its own heritage and sense of what is culturally significant. On the other hand the application of the Act’s designation process has been uneven at best. Of the several hundred municipalities in the province, less than half even have Local Architectural Conservation Advisory Committees and only a handful of the largest cities have staff assigned to heritage conservation. It is also rare for a building to be designated without the consent of the owner. In the case of districts, once designated any individual owner within the area has the option to exempt his or her property from the provisions of designation. This all means that designated buildings are not necessarily representative of the types of buildings which might be most important to preserve. A new and more comprehensive Heritage Act was drafted several years ago in Ontario but has never been enacted. Other Canadian provinces, with the exception of Quebec, are little better off than Ontario.

Need for Research

The relative weakness of heritage conservation legislation in Canada has at least a couple of causes. One is the all-too-common notion that little is old enough in such a young country to warrant preservation. The second aspect that discourages architectural conservation is the prevalent North American attitude towards the sanctity of private property. In general, people do not like property regulations. In this regard, one of the most frequently raised arguments against recognising the special significance of certain historic properties is that the value of a designated property will be decreased. It is argued that designation restricts what owners can do with their property. This, in turn, it is said, limits the number of buyers willing to accept such restrictions, and therefore limits the demand with the result that the potential market price for the properties is diminished.

The perception that designation has a negative impact has even reached the courts. In 1992, a legal offer to purchase a home was not honoured and the subsequent civil trial featured the supposed loss of value due to the designation of the property as a central issue. The case is still being appealed. It is often real-estate professionals, including agents, brokers and appraisers, who advise people that designation will have this downward effect on the future selling price of properties. This advice is offered on the basis of what might be called a `received wisdom’, or something that is accepted without proof. When asked, the proponents of this view can point to no research or systematic study that supports their position. What they do sometimes have is anecdotal knowledge of some particular example. In fairness it must be said that the proponents of designation are often in the same position, that is, their assertions that designation is neutral or positive, are supported by specific examples.

Heritage is about cultural values and not about economics. It should not be suggested that heritage designation is undertaken with the expectation of enhancing the market value of a property. However, property owners are justified in hoping that they will not be penalised financially for recognising that their buildings have a cultural value to the community as a whole. If heritage designation is not being pursued because of misinformation about economics, then that notion should be addressed and a reasoned discussion about the issue ought to be joined.

The Antecedents and Development of the Present Project

While research has been done in the United States, Australia, Great Britain, and previously in Canada, there was clearly a need for further clarification of this issue. Reliable, systematically and statistically defensible data were needed to replace anecdotal information which can be specific, idiosyncratic and selected to support either point of view.

The principal question considered in this study was initially addressed in the period 1990± 1992 by the present author as the subject of his report, Exploring the value of heritage properties.9 That initial study examined property values within thecities of London and Kitchener, with populations of 300,000 and 125,000, respectively. The methodology used in the current study has been adapted and refined from the approach used in the initial work. There are three notable differences from the earlier work. First, the current study relied on the use of local volunteers to gather the survey data. Second, the sample size and distribution was approximately seven times larger than the original study. Finally, the analysis of the data gathered on properties for this study focused only on sales that occurred after the time of designation, whereas the previous survey considered the whole price history trend of properties that were eventually designated. The main reason for the latter point is that more time has passed since the designation of many of the properties and it is therefore more reasonable to look just at the period affected directly by the act of heritage recognition.

The results of the original study of London and Kitchener were that in 64.4% of the survey cases in London, the individual designated properties performed better than average in the city’s real-estate market. Another 33.3% of the cases showed that the performance of the designated properties was consistent with the performance of the market in London. Only 2.2% of the properties exhibited performance below the average real-estate market. These results were shown to be consistent with those for Kitchener as well, which had 60% of properties above average, 40% at the average and no designated properties performing below average.

The information derived from the 1990± 1992 study proved to be of considerable interest to people in the Canadian heritage community. It has been widely republished in a variety of journals ranging from academic to those serving professional associations in the real-estate field as well as popular magazines aimed at home renovators.

In 1996, an interest was expressed by the Ontario Ministry of Culture, Recreation and Citizenship, as well as by the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario and individual LACACs, in expanding the research. It became evident that collecting data for a large number of communities of varying sizes and geographical locations would strengthen the findings of the research. This would also prove to be more useful for local communities, as there would be a greater likelihood that the study would have included a community comparable with their own. The terms of reference for the current project were set out in April 1998.

Research Focus

Given the need to deal with the perception that exists in some quarters of the real estate industry, a null hypothesis was used for the focus of the study. The statement of the null hypothesis was: `if a given property is designated as having heritage significance, then the sale price trend of that property after designation will track lower than the average market trend for the community’ . The average market trend was used as the comparison in this study for three reasons. First, the actual selling price of heritage properties was used and some were above, below or the same as the average dollar value of properties in the community. But these values were used only to establish the trend or trajectory of the values of designated properties which were then compared with the ambient trend.

Secondly, because of the nature of designatable properties they are by definition special in some way it is difficult to find similar properties for comparison purposes. In some cases there are reasonable comparisons. An example of this is where one house in a row has been designated as representative of the type. More often this is not the case and so the average property value trend in a community is a better baseline for testing the assertion that designation is generally a negative force. Some would argue that individual appraisal of properties might overcome these factors but appraisal also has its limitations and is not an exact science. Depending upon whether an appraisal is done for a bank, which needs to know the minimum price it might expect for selling a property quickly, or a vendor, who wants to know the maximum that the market might bear for a property, appraised value can vary by as much as 30%.

Finally, the average property value trend has been used in other reputable studies such as Rypkema’s `Preservation and property values in Indiana.'

Scope of the Research

The research described in this paper set out to examine the sales history trends of designated properties in as many Ontario communities as possible. Attention was given to size, character and geographical spread of the communities, in order to allow the findings to be applicable to all regions of the province. Participation was sought from a wide variety of communities with respect to the size and character in order to establish a sample which was broadly representative. In the end, 24 communities participated in the study ranging in size from Ottawa (population ca 300,000) through medium-sized cities such as Guelph (ca 80,000), down to smaller places such as Port Hope and St Marys (less than 20,000). The communities also represented a range from the very urban, such as Kitchener, to the very rural, such as Mississippi Mills. The geographical spread covers places from the far south-west at Windsor to the north in Sault Ste Marie. In some cases there were not enough data available from communities to establish a market trend and allow analysis, butthat information too has its significance. In the final analysis, data were available from fourteen communities.

While the main focus was on individually designated properties, data were also gathered from a number of designated districts. These included Meadowvale Village in Mississauga, the Doon Heritage Conservation District in Kitchener, the Brant Avenue district in Brantford and the main street of Bayfield, Ontario. The great majority of the properties examined were residential but data were gathered on some commercial properties.

Limitations of the Research

As with all studies, several limitations must be recognised. The first limitation is the fact that this study dealt with only one of many issues affecting property values. While undertaking this work, the researcher visited Meadowvale Village in Mississauga. During that visit, several planes passed noisily overhead on their final approach to Toronto’s International Airport. That phenomenon could be seen as having a potentially negative effect on local property values. On one side of the Village there is a Conservation Authority-protected wetland area with a watercourse, marshes, walkways and wildlife. That feature could be seen as having a positive impact on local property values. While it is virtually impossible to isolate one factor affecting property values, this study has done its best, by gathering data on a consistent basis from communities across the province and making the same comparisons in each, to draw some general conclusions about the single matter of heritage designation.

The second limitation concerns the fact that the study was a comparison of trends in property value using the average property value trend within communities. Sales history data about populations of properties rather than individual examples of architecture were being examined and the study does not purport to be a systematic set of property-specific appraisals.

The final limitation concerns the small sample size within some of the individual communities. While lists containing large numbers of designated properties were collected to begin the project, a total of 2,707, a great many of these were eliminated from consideration in the study because they were not in private ownership and thus not in the market-place. The numbers were further reduced because many of the properties had fewer that two recorded sales within the time period under consideration and, therefore, had no measurable sales history. In the end, 328 properties with sales histories were considered. This sample was again reduced to 208 for analysis purposes because only properties with sales after their designation were included. The small sample within some of the individual communities was compensated by the inclusion of many communities in the study. Whereas the results in a given community, such as Mississippi Mills, with only eight examples, may be inconclusive because of a small sample size, replication over a large number of communities serves to strengthen the findings of the study.

To read the remainder of this article please refer to International Journal of Heritage Studies, Volume 6, Number 1 (March 1, 2000), p. 83-100.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Indigenous Transformation of Archaeological Practice

Claire Smith

Claire Smith is Associate Professor of Archaeology at Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia and is currently President of the World Archaeological Congress

A quiet revolution is happening in archaeology: Indigenous knowledge and worldviews are transforming important aspects of archaeological practice. This is not a revolution that aims to upturn current practices. Rather, it involves enriching and broadening these practices and breaking down stereotypes from two directions. The expanding interface between Indigenous peoples and archaeology is creating a zone in which both archaeologists and Native peoples can move toward a better understanding of each other. This moves beyond an unthinking contrast between “us” (Indigenous peoples or archaeologists) and “them” (archaeologists or Indigenous peoples), failing to recognize the elisions between the two, especially in terms of the numbers of Indigenous archaeologists. (Note that I use the term “Indigenous peoples,” with the capital “I” emphasizing the political autonomy and nationhood status of individual groups—like Greek, Italian, Polish, American—while use of “peoples” recognizes the hetereogeneity of Indigenous experiences.)

This process is part of a global movement that is addressing social justice issues as an integral part of archaeological practice—seen, for example, in the recently established Archaeologists for Global Justice ( and the long-standing position of the World Archaeological Congress on Indigenous issues and emerging issues of global justice ( Significant
changes are occurring in the relationships between Indigenous peoples and archaeologists. After more than 20 years of published discussion aimed at improving these relationships (see Dongoske et al. 2000; Mihesuah 1999; Swidler et al. 1997; Watkins 2000; Zimmerman 1989), we have reached a point where, in many places, Indigenous knowledge is being incorporated into archaeological practice. Cumulatively, this is bringing about a substantive reorientation within our discipline. This issue of the SAA Archaeological Record, Indigenous Knowledge in Archaeological Practice, is but one an indicator of this transformation.

This article gives an overview of the emergence of Indigenous archaeology, one that is informed by Indigenous values and agendas. Indigenous archaeology moves beyond research “about” Indigenous peoples to focus on research that is conducted by, with, and for them. From the viewpoint of many Indigenous peoples, much archaeological and anthropological research has been nothing more than a tool of colonial exploitation. However, Indigenous scholars now argue that Indigenous values and worldviews should be central to archaeological practice (e.g., Atalay 2006), and they advocate shaping
this practice to provide greater benefits for communities (e.g., Isaacson 2003). This can be interpreted in terms of the idea of “survivance,” coined by Anishinaabe scholar, Gerald Vizenor (1999). Survivance is the process by which Native peoples adopt the tools that were used to change, control, and dispossess them in order to ensure the survival of their own societies and cultural values. The Indigenous transformation of archaeological practice is one part of this process.


Indigenous worldviews and the Western scientific approach to research represent two quite different knowledge systems. Generally, archaeological practice is conducted within the box of a Western worldview, and often this is not congruent with Indigenous systems of knowledge. Lacking an understanding of how Indigenous peoples might approach the data, archaeologists generally present Indigenous material culture in terms of the logics of Western typologies and classificatory systems. Grounded in Western knowledge systems, archaeological systems of classification often fail to see the potentially varying and different typological logics of Indigenous societies (Wobst 2005). There can be significant differences between the two: for example, while Western worldviews tend to emphasize bounded entities, discontinuities, and individualism, Indigenous worldviews tend to emphasize linkages, continuities, and

Indigenous theory and logic has a place in all aspects of archaeological practice, not just in eliminating the worst colonialist practices. It is clear that any centering of Indigenous knowledge will involve substantive changes in archaeological practice:

In bringing to the center some of the concepts held by Indigenous people about the past, traditional ways of teaching about history, heritage, and ancestral remains, and the role and responsibility of research knowledge for communities, we would be in a position to envisage a very different type of archaeological practice—one that emphasizes ethics and social justice for a wider, more diverse audience [Atalay

As Indigenous knowledge is incorporated increasingly into archaeological practice, it is evident that some systems of classification will link, crosscut, or even contravene “normal” archaeological classes and types. For example, archaeologist Tara Million uses her Cree heritage to guide her practice from research design to excavation and analysis. Guided by Cree philosophy, Million developed a circular research model with four quadrants: Native community, academics, the archaeological record, and interpretation (Figure 1). Deriving from this model is an archaeological practice in which she undertakes excavation in circles, rather than squares. Million’s work demonstrates that developing an Aboriginal archaeology involves numerous challenges and negotiations, as is evident in the following passage:

My archaeological projects and publications are based on building a bridge between two conflicting and competing value systems: Aboriginal and mainstream Western academic... I am being pulled in several contradictory directions. Cultural values are being brought to the table and are informing the requests expressed by each individual, Aboriginal and academic... I chose instead to compromise and negotiate with these two specific cultures [Million 2005:51].

The Academy

There are a growing number of Native people with tertiary qualifications, especially doctorates. For example, at the moment, there are at least 51 Native Americans who have received a doctorate in either anthropology or archaeology, 12 of whom are archaeologists. However, the distribution of Native American doctoral awardees in tertiary institutions is varied. In the years 2000–2005, the institutions that awarded the greatest number of doctorates to American Indians were Oklahoma State University, University of Oklahoma, and Arizona State University (NORC 2005: Table 10), closely followed by University of New Mexico, Stanford University, and University of California–Berkeley. In part, this may be because some of these universities are firmly located in “Indian country,” but it is probably also due to well-established and successful diversity initiatives within these institutions.

Nevertheless, the numbers are still far too small. In 2005, there were only three American Indians out of 455 doctoral recipients (.65 percent) in the field of anthropology and none out of the 44 doctoral graduates in archaeology (NORC 2005: Appendix Table A-2). Still, the trend is upward. While in 1985, doctoral recipients who were American Indians, in all fields, constituted .41 percent of recipients of known race/ethnicity, by 2005, this figure had risen to .54 percent (NORC 2005: Table 8). While this represents an increase of 32 percent, it is still well below the around 1 percent of Native Americans in the overall population. However, the scholars who are emerging are making substantive changes in their parts of the world, not only as “poster children” and role models, but also through the ways in which they conduct archaeology themselves and the cultural values they bring to the discipline.

This process is being reinforced by the hiring practices of particular universities. For example, the Department of Anthropology at the University of Massachusetts–Amherst recently advertised a tenure-track position for someone with “a vision and record of research and teaching in the archaeology of racism and social inequality, preferably in the Indigenous Americas and/or the African Diaspora,” as part of a program that is building on “teaching, research, and service concentration on the causes and manifestations of inequality and the promotion of social justice in the Americas” ( One of the criteria for this position is that candidates are “are integrated into the racialized communities they study, as a means to build on the strong community outreach initiative of the department.” Strategic hires such as these play an important structural role in the shaping of archaeology.

Given the ongoing effects of colonial histories, once they are in college environments, Indigenous scholars face particular challenges, but they also bring special skills to their studies. Because they are often the subject of research, many Indigenous scholars come to the academy with firsthand experience of what it is like to be researched and how this affects the people being studied. Therefore, Indigenous scholars already have a strong sense of what is “good” and “bad” research practice. Moreover, having lived within the frameworks of colonialism, even if these frameworks have been altered of late, these Native scholars arrive in the academy with their critical skills finely honed. They use these skills not only to critique those in the academy, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, but also their own emerging roles in the discipline and the institutional structures of their country.

One of the most important recent sustained critiques of an Indigenous structure by Indigenous scholars is in the Fall 2006 issue of American Indian Quarterly, in which Guest Editor Amy Lonetree brings together a range of critical engagements with the recently established Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI). Among a range of scholarly critiques are several papers that explicitly call for the NMAI to engage actively with colonial processes. This is particularly apparent in Sonya Atalay’s paper, “No Sense of the Struggle: Creating a Context for Survivance at the NMAI” and Myla Vincenti Carpio’s “(Un)disturbing Exhibitions: Indigenous Historical Memory at the NMAI.” Lonetree’s paper takes a similar stance, although in terms of whether the relatively abstract treatment of colonialism best fulfils the NMAI’s mission to educate the public about the effects of colonialism in the Americas. Staff at the NMAI were well aware that the Museum would be open to such critiques, and Director Rick West informed the Washington Post that period of history is at best only about 5 percent of the period we have been in this hemisphere. We do not want to make the National Museum of the American Indian into an Indian Holocaust Museum... what we are talking about in the end is cultural survivance. We are still here (Joel Achenbach, Sept. 14, pg. R01).

If you would like to read the rest of this article please go to the SAA website)

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

The Emergence of Geoarchaeology in Research and Cultural Research Management: Part II

Joseph Schuldenrein-Principal and President of Geoarcheology Research Associates.

In Part I of this two-part series on geoarchaeology in cultural resource management (CRM) that appeared in the November issue of The SAA Archaeological Record, the general concepts and principles of geoarchaeology were discussed, and fieldwork and sampling were introduced. In this final article, a detailed assessment of geoarchaeology’s utility for compliance work in CRM is provided. Geoarchaeology
can and should be integrated in each phase of the compliance process. Reference here is made to the discovery/survey (Phase I), testing (Phase II), and data recovery (Phase III) stages of an undertaking. Withinthese broad parameters, the degree to which earth science approaches are applied varies by specific Scopes of Work (SOW), regulatory requirements (federal, state, and municipal), and even by contractor.
In this brief summary, I touch on some of the more critical elements of geoarchaeological application as they relate to the Section 106 compliance process.

Applications in the Compliance Process: Phase I and II
Most CRM archaeologists make their livings documenting simple artifact scatters and testing whether or not they extend into the substrate. It has been estimated that in excess of 80 percent of CRM projects do not extend beyond Phase I, and another 15 percent are concluded at the testing phase. For prehistoric projects in particular, it should be noted that landscape considerations factor significantly into the
research strategies utilized for both phases.

Most teams consult U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) topographic maps to obtain broad guidelines for field relations—landforms and terrain gradients—and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)/Soil Conservation Service (SCS) county soil maps to obtain a preview of subsurface “soil” composition in advance of shovel testing. Less frequently, aerial photos and/or bedrock geology maps are consulted. While these strategies remain relevant, they have been in use for well over 25 years and have major shortcomings. County soil maps, for example, are produced largely for agricultural purposes and have limited information regarding buried deposits below 3 ft, and they pay scant attention to depositional sources even in alluvial contexts. For archaeological purposes, the question of buried soils is paramount. Approaches should be reassessed in light of key mapping and technological advances made by the
USGS, individual state geological surveys, and other planning agencies that assist in large-scale terrain analysis. Paper maps or online plots are widely available at minimal cost. Land use maps are also useful and can be supplied by clients (e.g., developers or engineering firms) who have done advance work on a given project.

Currently, the most valuable geoarchaeological resource for Phase I and II research is the surficial geology map, which presents the distribution as well as the age of surface sediments. These maps are typically issued by state geological surveys and represent the collective mapping efforts of staff experts in regional Quaternary and bedrock geology. In some states, only partial coverage is available. In states that are partially capped by glacial deposits, for example, detailed surface mapping may only cover glaciated regions.

It is necessary for the geoarchaeological consultant to be familiar with the map availability for a particular project area. Expeditious application of this resource provides the researcher with a preview of the antiquity and composition of the terrain that his/her project is likely to encounter.

(To continue reading this article click on the link to be redirected to SAA website)

Monday, June 4, 2007

The Emergence of Geoarchaeology in Research and Cultural Resource Management: Part I

Joseph Schuldenrein-Principal Archeologist and President of Geoarcheology Research Associates.

Since the early 1970s, the trajectories of geoarchaeology and cultural resource management (CRM)have followed contemporaneous if somewhat independent courses. As a widely applied strategy, geoarchaeology emerged in the wake of the “New Archaeology.” It was a logical vehicle for incorporating scientific methods to a theoretical orientation that emphasized human ecology. Perhaps the signature work that placed the discipline on the academic “archaeological map” was Karl Butzer’s second edition of Environment and Archaeology: An Ecological Approach to Prehistory (1971). At about the same time, the expansive reach of the National Historic Preservation Act (1966) mandated archaeological investigations across landscapes, environments, and contexts heretofore unanticipated across the U.S.

In hindsight, geoarchaeology’s landscape perspective and the preservation ethic would appear to be natural allies for implementing compliance projects, but the convergence of the two was slow to develop. The catalyst for integration was the growth of large-scale planning projects—reservoir expansions for major drainages of the Southeast and Forest Service inventories in the West, for example—that formally
designated natural landscapes as planning units. By the mid-1980s, it became apparent that an understanding of the systematics of landscape evolution would account for site/settlement distributions and the processes of site burial and preservation, items of paramount concern to cultural resource planners. The results of CRM research began to be reported in the professional literature (Waters 1992), and
geoarchaeology was eventually integrated into planning strategies.

While it is safe to say that geoarchaeology has demonstrated its worth in CRM, the science behind it remains mysterious to planners and general archaeologists alike. As in other archaeological specialties, the methods, techniques, and interpretive potential of the field have evolved over decades. Ideally, practitioners are extensively trained in both the natural and social sciences and have gained considerable experience by studying archaeological sites in their natural contexts. The purpose of these articles is to acquaint the archaeological public with the key concepts and applications of geoarchaeology, and specifically that aspect of geoarchaeology bearing on ancient landscapes. More importantly, the mission is to
enable planners, principal investigators, technicians, and students to identify those settings in which geoarchaeology is beneficial and to pose the right questions for professionals working at their sites. In Part I, the general concepts and principles of geoarchaeology are discussed, and field work and sampling are introduced. In Part II, which will appear in the next issue of The SAA Archaeological Record, a detailed assessment of geoarchaeology’s utility for compliance work in CRM will be provided.

Concepts and Principles

As the term implies, geoarchaeology addresses the interface between the earth sciences and archaeology. Archaeological problems form the basis of the inquiry. The term archaeological geology is also used, but it more accurately refers to a thematic bias in which geology is the primary focus and archaeology is simply an investigative technique.

A fundamental postulate is that cultural finds are always tied to a landscape—either on an exposed surface or buried underneath it. Irrespective of the aims of an archaeological project, the association between cultural materials and the ground is critical to assessing significance from the compliance perspective. Systematic associations between cultural features (e.g., artifacts, storage pits, processing stations, settlements, structures), their periods of occupation, and patterned distributions with particular terrain elements enables CRM professionals to structure observations in a way that is meaningful for clients and regulators.

A second postulate is that over the course of the 15,000 years of human occupation across North America, the landscape has been dynamic. Thus the history of landscape dynamics provides an independent context for explaining the variability in archaeological distributions across time and space. Landscape histories are initially reconstructed by examining the individual landforms that define an environmental
setting. An alluvial landscape, probably the most prominent setting for stratified sites, includes such landforms as terraces, flood basins, marshes, and meander scrolls. However, because of landscape dynamism, the configuration of landforms comprising the contemporary alluvial terrain may not correspond to that of the past. Surface artifacts of recent origin can be separated from prehistoric settings by
depths of deposit within the same landform or by distance from former landforms that are no longer exposed. Systematic study of landscape change is key to understanding patterned contexts of cultural features through time and determines if, for example, remains of a given prehistoric period will survive on the surface, erode away, or be buried. The study of landscape change—effectively, the change in landform configurations—is geomorphology.

Assembling landscape histories and assessing site integrity are the most critical objectives for the geoarchaeologist. Landform histories are grounded in absolute dating techniques, which, in North America, still center on the radiocarbon technique for carbonized cultural remains, but are now increasingly dependent on AMS and bulk sediment dating of organic deposits that may house archaeological materials.
Archaeomagnetism and thermoluminescense have gained increasing prominence for archaeological dating, while dendrochronology and obsidian hydration are routine across the western U.S. The most exciting recent development in absolute dating is optically stimulated luminescence (OSL), which expands the dating scale to 100 KYA and facilitates determinations in Aeolian environments.

To develop assessments of site integrity, geoarchaeologists draw on techniques from a variety of disciplines, including geology, sedimentology, pedology, hydrology, geomorphology, stratigraphy, chemistry, geophysics, photogrammetry, and engineering, as well as archaeology. Parenthetically, geoarchaeological approaches are colored by the training of the practitioner vis-à-vis these disciplines; the approach of a
pedologist, for example, differs considerably from that of a geomorphologist, since the former emphasizes soil sequences and stable environments, while the latter is keyed to dynamic landscapes and processes of change. Geoarchaeological approaches are widely applied to prehistoric settings but are increasingly drawn upon to reconstruct site formation processes at historic sites.

The initial strategy for modeling landform histories is an understanding of the subsurface materials that account for their formation. Subsurface materials can be divided into three basic categories: geological deposits, soils, and anthropogenic sediments. Geological deposits or sediments are laid down by gravity, water, or wind and represent the accretionary forces of the natural environment. The ideal
preservation context for ancient occupations in formerly active landscapes—coastal plains, stream margins, dune fields, rock shelters, and caves—is burial by low-energy deposition. More commonly, however, artifacts are mobilized after site abandonment. It is the geoarchaeologist’s job to determine how, why, and when such displacements occurred.

Soils are weathered (mechanically or chemically “broken down”) sediments that represent stable periods of a landscape’s history when prehistoric evidence is likely to be preserved in situ (thus retaining integrity and factoring into significance determinations). A broad rule of thumb is that buried soils are proxies for ancient surfaces. Many archaeologists are familiar with the “A-B-C” horizonation of soils,
although these designations are widely misused, and the terms “soils” and “sediments” are bandied about with abandon in field settings. While soil taxonomies are intricate and complicated, another simple rule for field archaeologists is that the “A” horizon is organic and typically black, “B” horizons are zones of mineral enrichment, often red or brown, and “C” horizons are the unmodified parent material or the sediment above which active soil formation occurs.

Finally, anthropogenic sediments are of unequivocal cultural origin and represent the human imprint on the earth; features such as roasting pits, storage facilities, house floors, and planting fields are examples. Typically, anthropogenic deposits and soils are found together and represent the most sensitive archaeological contexts.

To read the remainder of this article visit the SAA Archaeological Record

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Articles on Public Archaeology, Cultural Heritage Concerns, and Indigenous Rights

Here are some abstracts for articles on public archaeology, cultural heritage concerns, and indigenous rights that you might be interested in

Who's indigenous? Whose archaeology?
Bill Sillar

The International Labour Organisation, the United Nations and various indigenous Organisations have raised and/or objected to diverse criteria through which indigenous groups have been defined and the rights that should be accorded to them. This paper discusses the implications of these issues in relation to archaeological research and heritage management and uses this to position the other papers in this volume. Specific themes that are addressed include: the impact of colonialism and nationforming on indigenous groups; the continuing influence of 19th and early 20th century social evolutionary concepts on the representation of indigenous groups and the role of archival material from this period today; the contrasting processes of cultural continuity and assimilation within 'dominant' societies in which indigenous communities have participated, and the effects that this has had on more recent claims over land rights; the cultural differences that surround the concepts of individual and community ownership, particularly in relation to copyright; the role of academia, museums and the media in the representation of indigenous people in the past and the present.

Of grizzlies and landslides: the use of archaeological and anthropological evidence in Canadian aboriginal rights cases
Jean Leclair

This paper discusses some of the most contentious problems raised by the use of archaeological and anthropological evidence in aboriginal rights litigation in Canada. The first part of the paper deals with the general impact of archaeological and anthropological theories on law. The more specific problems related to the use of archaeological and anthropological evidence in aboriginal rights litigation are the subject of the second part. The final section deals with the reverse problem, that is, the question of the law's impact on the disciplines of archaeology and anthropology

Indigenous peoples' rights to their cultural Heritage
Lyndon Ormond Parker

This paper discusses indigenous peoples' rights to their cultural heritage, using the example of rights to indigenous human remains, held by institutions, universities, scientific centres and museums. It addresses international developments in indigenous cultural policy at the United Nations and the European Union, with specific reference to Australia and the United Kingdom. It also outlines issues relating to indigenous peoples' collective rights, free, prior and informed consent, ownership of indigenous human remains and the issue of benefit sharing and sustainable justice. There are now several international declarations, conventions and policies in place to assist indigenous people in gaining some form of control and protection over their heritage, however, these international instruments are often unco-ordinated and lacking in any enforcement mechanisms and they hold little sway with those who retain indigenous human remains against the wishes of descendant communities.

Artefacts, archaeologists, and American Indians
Joe Watkins

Archaeologists traditionally have observed the style and technology of artefacts and used this to classify archaeological assemblages, describing the repeated association of artefact groups as a 'Culture'. We continue to place overwhelming reliance on our ability to derive meaningful information about past culture from artefacts, yet the importance these objects had for the members of the cultural group (past and present) is not adequately considered. The typological approach sidelines the creative role of the artisans, we find out a little about their economy, gain momentary glimpses of their religion, but learn almost nothing about their humanity. Archaeologists tend to focus on the physical, technological or esoteric attributes of an artefact, while indigenous populations tend to focus on the object's ritual or social importance. This is most apparent in the treatment of funerary artefacts. Until recently, many American Indian tribal groups have seen no distinction between 'grave robbing' and 'archaeological excavation'; it made no difference to them whether the dead were disturbed by looters or by qualified archaeologists. By involving indigenous populations in the design, practice and dissemination of archaeological research, we can add humanity to our study of the human past, and take a step toward a truly worldwide archaeology.

Indigenous claims and heritage conservation: an opportunity for critical dialogue
Glenn Wharton

Indigenous claims of ownership and access to material culture challenge the field of heritage conservation. This article illustrates how indigenous concerns conflict with basic constructs of Western conservation, and how conservators respond to these claims. Despite efforts of inclusion, relatively few conservation projects integrate indigenous knowledge with scientific research. Redistribution of conservation authority is rarely put into practice. The article concludes by pointing to conservation as a meeting ground where collaborative decisions can be made about material culture on display. Conflict negotiation in conservation presents a potential forum for cultural representation and contested meaning of objects on display.

The above articles can be located in the journal PUBLIC ARCHAEOLOGY Volume 4 Issues 2 and 3 (SPECIAL ISSUE)

PUBLIC ARCHAEOLOGY is an international, peer-reviewed journal, setting archaeology in a global context

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Archaeological Process in Ontario

The archaeological process in Ontario is conducted in four sequential stages. Stage I, and in most cases Stage II, are required for residential and commercial development and infrastructure improvement undertaken in the Province under the Planning and Environmental Assessment Acts. Stage III and Stage IV investigations are determined through documentary and cultural resources encountered during the Stage I and Stage II assessments. The Ministry of Culture is currently reviewing the standards for archaeology in Ontario. The new guidelines are expected to be in place in the spring of 2007. Not only does the Central Archaeology Group adhere to the existing Ministry of Culture’s Archaeological Assessment Technical Guidelines, but in anticipation of these new guidelines, we have already incorporated them into our work practices.

Stage I – Background Study

The purpose of the Stage I assessment is to investigate the cultural land use, archaeological history, and the present condition of a property. The majority of the Stage I process is conducted in the office and involves the examination of records such as historic settlement maps, land titles and documents, historical land use and ownership records, primary and secondary documentary sources, and the Ministry of Culture’s archaeological sites database. The study may also involve interviews with individuals who can provide information about the property and consultation with local First Nations communities. The background study is followed by a property inspection to examine geography, topography and current conditions, and to determine the potential for archaeological resources. Stage I background research is usually completed in conjunction with a Stage II property survey.

Stage II – Property Survey

The Stage II property survey involves the documentation of archaeological resources by collecting artifacts and mapping cultural features. Depending on the nature of the property environment, two methods are employed in the survey: 1) pedestrian survey, and; 2) test-pit survey.

Pedestrian survey involves walking the property to search for features and collect artifacts on the surface. It is usually reserved for recently ploughed land that has been weathered by one heavy rainfall or several light rainfalls to increase visibility of cultural material on the surface.

Test-pit survey is utilized to search for artifacts and features located below the surface by digging small regularly spaced, shovel-sized pits. These surveys are carried out in wooded areas, pastures with a high rock content, abandoned farmland with heavy brush growth, properties of less than a hectare, and narrow corridors for pipelines, hydro lines, road widening, etc.

Any artifacts or features discovered on the property are mapped. A sizable concentration of artifacts and/or features likely indicates the presence of a site(s). At this point, the archaeologist, in consultation with the Ministry of Culture, will determine if the project should proceed to a Stage III site-specific assessment. If nothing is found during the Stage II property survey, or the artifact or features found are deemed to have little heritage value by the Ministry of Culture, then development of the property can proceed.

Stage III – Site-Specific Assessment

The purpose of the Stage III site-specific assessment is to identify the extent of the archaeological site(s) discovered during the Stage II property survey. During the site-specific assessment a representative sample of artifacts is gathered to determine the heritage value of the site and appropriate strategies for mitigation are recommended. The Stage III assessment also involves detailed documentary research that is specific to the site(s) that supplements the Stage I background study.

Stage III field analysis involves a controlled surface pick-up and test unit excavations. In a controlled surface pick-up, the ground surface is examined for diagnostic artifacts and/or a representative sample of non-diagnostic material, which are recorded and collected. Like pedestrian survey in the Stage II assessment, controlled surface pick-up is reserved for ploughed fields.

Test unit excavations involve controlled excavations using one-metre squares to determine the presence buried artifacts and/or features. Test unit excavations are conducted in areas where archaeological sites were discovered through Stage II test pit excavations or where Stage III surface pick-up occurred. Although the goal of test unit excavations is to determine the overall extent of an archaeological site and to gather a representative sample of artifacts, the number of test units required is dependent on the nature of the archaeological site.

Stage IV – Mitigation of Development Impacts

The Stage IV mitigation of development impacts is used to outline the overall impact of development on the heritage value of an archaeological site, and is addressed by either the protection and avoidance of the archaeological site, or complete excavation and documentation.

Protection and avoidance offers both short term protection of archaeological sites during the development phase, and long-term protection which ensures the preservation of the archaeological site from future development without further documentation and removal. Protection and avoidance measures can include establishing a buffer zone around the archaeological site or passing site stewardship to a publicly accountable owner, such as a municipality or conservation authority.

Although protection and avoidance is preferred, the preservation of archaeological sites is not always feasible. Excavation and documentation involves the removal of as much cultural material from the archaeological context as possible. This involves the excavation of one metre units around high-yielding test units from Stage III by hand and mechanical topsoil removal to uncover any subsurface features.

Graves and Cemeteries

Cemeteries are a ubiquitous component of the landscape and it is not surprising that many unknown and unmarked graves are found every year. Considering the overarching spiritual and religious connotations of cemeteries, identifying unmarked grave sites has become a political, social, economic, and developmental priority over the years. It therefore becomes important to delineate the boundaries of unmarked cemeteries, and to do so with sensitivity. The Central Archaeology Group is able to provide the technical support you need while maintaining the sensitivity needed for such a project. By utilizing new technology, such as Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR), we are able to map grave locations with little to no physical disturbance of the site. However, in other instances, given the circumstances of discovery, the proposed land use of the area, or in cases of extreme soil erosion to known graves or cemeteries, it may become both necessary and desirable to have the internments removed to a more appropriate location.

The Central Archaeology Group is well-equipped to conduct examinations of identified and unmarked cemeteries and grave sites for the purposes of documentation, registration, relocation, and cemetery closure. These investigations may involve the identification, mapping, and reporting of unmarked Euro-Canadian and First Nations grave sites, as well as the negotiation of site disposition agreements between landowners and representatives of the deceased, and the processing of new cemetery applications. All cemetery projects are conducted under the Ontario Cemeteries Act and associated regulations, administered by the Ontario Ministry of Consumer and Business Services.

Urban Environments

Archaeological investigations in urban environments require a different approach than the methods listed above. Archaeological deposits are often associated with complex sequences that are usually found beneath modern buildings and concreted in areas that have been developed for decades and sometimes even centuries. Although the presence of former land use may not be readily apparent, often evidence of the past, such as building foundations, cellars, privies, and even graves, can be found in deeply buried deposits beneath the surface. However, traditional archaeological field investigations in these areas are often difficult and not always plausible. Before field investigations begin, a detailed examination into the land use of the proposed development area is conducted through the use of documentary sources, historic maps, insurance plans, city directories and old photographs. Once areas of archaeological potential have been identified, Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) is passed over the surface of the site to detect any sub-surface features. Significant features identified by the GPR are further examined through borehole and/or trench excavations.

Laura McRae and Derek Paauw

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Cultural Landscapes in Ontario

(reprinted courtesy of the Ministry of Culture-to be redirected to their website click on the link above)

Since the Ontario Heritage Act was proclaimed in 1975. LACACs and municipalities have developed considerable experience in identifying and designating individual heritage properties and districts. Now, in the conservation field, we are expanding our interest from individual buildings as landmarks to an appreciation of cultural landscapes.

People have always altered their surroundings to meet their needs. However, the natural landscape should not be considered as merely a setting for buildings but as an influence upon them and human activities. While there are various definitions of cultural landscapes, all emphasize the interrelationship of people and the natural environment.

Cultural landscapes are characterized by the activities and processes which have shaped them. It is our shared sense of the values they represent that make them significant.

We should not confuse cultural with scenic landscapes. A scenic landscape is valued for its pleasing appearance; a cultural landscape for the information it conveys about the processes and activities that have shaped a community. For example, an abandoned and possibly unattractive industrial site may be an important cultural landscape for the information it reveals about industrial processes and the development of a particular community or region.

Types of Cultural Landscapes

There are different typologies for cultural landscapes but generally they fall within three categories. These are taken from the Operational Guidelines adopted by the World Heritage Committee in 1992:

Defined landscapes: those which have been intentionally designed (e.g., a formal garden or, in a more urban setting, the square in the Town of Goderich)

Evolved landscapes: those which have grown organically including those which continue to evolve (continuing landscape); (relict landscape) where an evolutionary process has come to an end (e.g., an abandoned mine site)

Associative landscapes: those with powerful religious, artistic, or cultural associations of the natural element rather than material cultural evidence, which may be insignificant or even absent (e.g., Algonquin Park because of its association with the Group of Seven paintings)

Why Cultural Landscapes?

- Landscapes which have been altered by people or which have a special significance for them, convey cultural messages about past or continuing practices and processes.
- Landscapes illustrate broad patterns of land use over an extended period of time. They tell us how communities have developed; they help define what gives a region its characteristics and hence distinctive identity (e.g., the grid-like concessions of the southwest Ontario farming landscape vs. the mining landscapes of northern Ontario reveal different reasons and periods of development, and different responses to the natural landscape).
- By studying cultural landscapes, we understand the broad social, economic, political and environmental forces that have shaped and may continue to shape our communities. As a result, we have a greater chance of identifying what activities and policies will positively or negatively affect our heritage.

New Opportunities and Responsibilities

By their very nature, cultural landscapes are more complex and difficult to identify and conserve. They can be owned by a number of people or cross municipal boundaries (e.g., the Rideau Canal corridor lies in 23 municipalities, including a regional municipality). Defining the extent of the landscape requires careful evaluation of its components and an understanding of the influences and activities that shaped them. Comprehending the relationship between various parts of a landscape helps guide the types of change that could occur while ensuring adequate preservation. Evaluating landscapes helps develop a shared appreciation for them particularly if the community is involved in the process.

Identifying cultural landscapes builds on the years of experience that LACACs have with heritage buildings and districts. It offers the opportunity to expand on the understanding and appreciation of our heritage and our communities.