Archaeology is the study of past cultures through the discovery and examination of remaining artifacts (things made and used by people). Archaeology also incorporates historical documents, traditional knowledge and oral history in the interpretation of artifacts, sites and places.
Over 12,000 years of Manitoba’s history is represented in the Archaeology collection, dating from the last ice age through the arrival and settlement of Europeans in Manitoba. The Archaeology Department is responsible for managing 2.5 million artifacts recovered from across Manitoba. Each year the collection grows, increasing our understanding of the province.
Research and analysis carried out on the collection continues each year as archaeologists unlock Manitoba’s history. Archaeological research at The Manitoba Museum has focused on the Boreal Forest, since this covers two-thirds of the province. The Museum’s collection for this region is one of the largest and most extensive in Canada. Research on these collections has improved our understanding of the human history for the area, extending back 8,500 years. Ongoing research includes investigating pre-European quartz mining on the Churchill River.
Research on collections from the Parklands area has pushed back the age of Pelican Lake spear-point style by almost 500 years in Manitoba. Research on artefacts from the fur trade has demonstrated the elaborate clothing and decorations worn by the Western Anishnaabe during the early 1800s. Study of collections from the grassland area has proven that corn was grown in southern Manitoba during the 1400s. While it is well documented that corn was grown extensively in North America prior to the arrival of Europeans, its discovery in Manitoba makes this the most northerly location.