Rebuilding history, with geospatial data

Did you know that Ontario law now requires archaeological assessment for development of anything from a backyard deck to a highway?

This weekend, as part of Doors Open Toronto, I visited the offices of Archaeological Services Inc.  When doing an archaeological assessment for a Stouffville subdivision, they discovered a large Huron settlement, the Mantle Site.

It was particularly gratifying to hear that archaeological digs now involve an Aboriginal monitor like archaeologist Kris Nahrgang, who does smudging and other spiritual acts while working on the sites, as well as excellent stone carvings.

Geospatial data is now accumulating (at this firm, at Land Information Ontario, and elsewhere) about Aboriginal settlements before European contact.  They also use geographic information systems to guess where settlements might have been.  It is disturbing to think about how much history was erased by colonization.