Digitally digging into history

Archaeology is usually associated with carefully digging through soil to uncover the past, but for students this summer, archaeology is going digital.

Instead of continuing the physical excavation of the Shickluna Shipyard in downtown St. Catharines, students will be uncovering the complexities of historical archaeology and local history in HIST 3M61: Local Historical Archaeology.

“I’m delighted to be teaching this course,” says Adjunct Professor Kimberly Monk in the Department of History. “This course will expand on the teaching and learning outcomes for the Shickluna Shipyard project, providing students with an understanding of field archaeology and appreciation for our local historic environment.”

Students will have the opportunity to take on a research project to help capture Niagara historic resources while engaging the public in history. During the course, students will undertake research products and create dynamic presentations that will be shared digitally with the public.

“This course is also an opportunity to integrate the material we’ve recovered from the project,” says Monk.

Last July, 10 students taking HIST 3M60 worked with a team of volunteers and experts to begin excavation at three locations on the site of the 19th century Shickluna Shipyard. The team uncovered more than 4,000 artifacts that will allow researchers to better understand the shipyard and its role in the local economy.

This years’ online intensive, six-week course will cover topics such as fieldwork practices, legal and ethical issues as well as multidisciplinary approaches such as geophysics and dendrochronology. Participants will also learn about the history of the Niagara region and the Great Lakes environment from pre-colonial to modern times.

“Students will examine Niagara’s historic and contemporary landscape through the study of built and archaeological heritage, archival materials including maps and visual art,” says Monk. “They will have the opportunity through individual projects to dig deeper and interpret a segment of the regions’ natural and cultural history.”

The online course material will include weekly presentations and discussion, as well as the opportunity to hear from local experts and individuals involved in supporting Niagara heritage.

HIST/CLAS 3M61: Local Historical Archaeology will run online from July 13 to Aug. 21 and is open to both Brock students and interested community members. Visit the course website for more information.

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