Please note that the Cataraqui Archaeological Research Foundation and the Kingston Archaeology Centre have closed. This site is still available for historical and informational reasons, but none of the services or products described here are available anymore.

Stage 1-4 Assessments

In accordance with the Standards and Guidelines for Consultant Archaeologists developed by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, archaeological assessment in Ontario takes place through a phased process as follows:

Stage One

A stage one investigation consists of an archival examination of any known historical, environmental and archaeological data for the study property. This information may then be used to determine the archaeological potential of the property. Sources used for stage-one investigations include historical maps and archives, oral histories, and Ministry of Culture site data files. Areas that are identified as having moderate to high archaeological potential must be field tested in the next phase.

Stage Two

Stage two investigations consist of land surveys to identify all archaeological resources that could be on the property being developed. For a ploughed field, archaeologists will walk back and forth over it in transects looking for artifacts on the surface. In forests, overgrown pasture areas or any other places that cannot be ploughed, rows of test pits are dug down to sterile subsoil at regular intervals and the soil sifted to look for artifacts. The archaeologist will then determine whether any archaeological resources found are of sufficient cultural heritage value to require a Stage 3 assessment. If nothing is found, a report is made to the Ministry of Culture and the property will be cleared for development.

Stage Three

This stage of the archaeological assessment process is for if a potentially culturally-significant archaeological site was encountered during Stage two investigation, then additional excavation of the site is carried out in stage three. The archaeologist determines the size of the archaeological site and evaluates its cultural heritage value or interest. For a ploughed field site, a controlled surface pickup, in which all surface artifacts are individually plotted using a surveyor's total station, is conducted. The deposit is subjected to a series of test excavations to determine its age, cultural affiliation, density, and extent. In forests, overgrown pasture areas or any other places one cannot plough, the archaeologist maps the limits of a site and acquires further information about the site's characteristics by excavating one-meter by one-meter test units across the site. A decision is made in consultation with the Ministry of Culture regarding the need for further investigation in stage 4, or full scale excavation.

Stage Four

This final stage of the archaeological assessment process involves conservation strategies for sites of cultural heritage value or interest. Conservation can involve long-term protection measures in place for an archaeological site to protect it while development proceeds around it. A site which is endangered and cannot be preserved is subjected to mitigative excavation, which involves documenting and removing the archaeological site through large scale excavation, prior to development of the site.