Our Lands Speak is a prolific series of books documenting the fascinating findings of This Land Archaeology Inc. excavations since 2006, led by founder, author, and Ontario’s senior-most archaeologist, Bill Finlayson.

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Iroquoian Arrowhead Collectors at the 16th Century Draper Site

Iroquoian Arrowhead Collectors at the 16th Century Draper Site

One never knows what unusual artifacts are to be found in the collections at sites such as Draper and what new insights will result from their study.
Fittingly, I continue this blog series with another extraordinary set of findings we recovered from our excavations at the Draper site in 1975 and 1978. This involves 10 projectile points which predate the occupation of the Draper Village by many centuries. Indeed, one of these projectile points may be 8,000 to 8,900 years old, while some are several millennia old.

Neutral Indigenous Peoples Living at the Draper Site

Neutral Indigenous Peoples Living at the Draper Site

At Draper, almost 98% of the chert used to make arrow points, scraping tools, and other cutting and scraping instruments were made from Onondaga chert. This chert was found along the north shore of Lake Erie in an area occupied and probably controlled by the Neutral. More recent research on Draper has revealed that there are other artifacts characteristic of the Neutral People. One of these was a bead made from the toe bone of a deer.

The Draper South Field

The Draper South Field

We discovered 7 houses about 40 metres south of the Draper Main Village. Two of these houses overlapped, with one being shorter. I believe the latter may have been lived in by the workers who built the rest of the houses. There was eventually a total of 6 houses separated from the Main Village by a fence, and likely occupied at the same time.

The White Site

The White Site

Tripp noted 10 characteristics which suggested that the White site was a farm hamlet, occupied seasonally over many years. Among these unusual features were an absence of village planning and defensive planning in the placement of houses, which on the other hand was so prevalent at Draper.

The Draper Site: Special Structures, Chiefs’ Houses

The Draper Site: Special Structures, Chiefs’ Houses

We know from the historical documents of the Historic Huron that these types of houses existed. We can use this data to help us better understand the occupants of the Draper site. It is noteworthy that as the village expanded, these long longhouses were situated on the outer edges of the expanded part of the village. Such a pattern of placement of chiefs’ houses—to potentially assist in village defenses—may be unique to the Draper site.

The Brains Behind the Books

Bill Finlayson
Bill Finlayson, Ph.D., F.R.S.C., is the senior-most archaeologist in Ontario archaeology with well over 50 years of experience in the field. Since 2006, he has undertaken the salvage excavation of more than 60 19th century homesteads and farmsteads, culminating in the total excavation of Patterson Village, the largest excavation of a 19th century Euro-Canadian site in Ontario.