FORT LAWRENCE – The excavation at Beaubassin is over – for the foreseeable future, at least – and that includes public dig days.
“When Parks Canada acquired the property in 2006, we designed a five-year program of archaeological testing which, from the outset, was scheduled to end in 2012,” said Charles Burke, Parks Canada archaeologist.
According to Burke, members of the general public were working on the site 84 days between 2007 and 2011.
“…Six hundred and six people participated in the public program,” he said.
Burke said the five-year archaeological plan had a number of components, among them inventorying and evaluating archaeological resources, mapping what parts of the site were undisturbed, relocating sites of previous excavations and using the accumulated data to advise managers on site preservation.
A summary report will be created tabulating the results of the five-year excavation.
“…These data will not provide grand or sweeping new interpretive stories. It will rather use existing data and its interpretation to point to new research strategies that lead to new aspects and components of the site’s history,” said Burke.
The archaeologist said less than 10-per cent of the area was “tested,” which leaves much of the site unexplored.
“Obviously archaeologists and large segments of society…love the reward of finding unique objects buried in past occupations,” he said. “However, we should be mindful of preserving the past as well, not just for future generations but for the opportunities that new and emerging technologies may bring to archaeological research.”
There will be no digging in 2013.
“…Several minor recording and survey tasks…will be completed…”
According to Field Unit Superintendent Robert Moreau, artifacts recovered from the Parks Canada Beaubassin project are currently housed in Halifax. They will be transferred to an Ottawa facility at some point within the next three years. The 13,000 artifacts found in a 1990 salvage excavation of Fort Lawrence are part of the Nova Scotia Museum’s collection.
There is likely no licensing mechanism by which members of the general public could be granted permission to excavate sections of Beaubassin on their own.
“Most jurisdictions will only issue a permit to archaeologists with a post-graduate degree and experience in the type of work required at the site,” said Burke.