Government of New Brunswick

What is an archaeological site?

An archaeological site is an area where there is evidence of past human activity. In New Brunswick, archaeological sites can include such things as shell middens, fishing stations, large First Nation villages, sugar-bush camps, shipbuilding yards, trading posts, shipwrecks, cemeteries, military forts and a variety of other locations where humans, both long ago and more recently, have left traces of themselves.


Why can't I just dig for artifacts?

A site is more than just the artifacts that it contains. Every archaeological site holds a story, a part of our special history that can only be captured by appropriate archaeological techniques and interpreted by serious attention to detail. Once destroyed either by a shovel or a bulldozer, the result is the same. A piece of our unique heritage would be permanently lost. In New Brunswick you must possess a valid archaeological field research licence to conduct an archaeological excavation.



What is an artifact?

An artifact is any ancient object that has been formed or altered by the human hand. There are thousands of types of artifacts in New Brunswick that can vary from 10,000 year old First Nation spear points to 17th century iron door hinges.


Will Archaeological Services buy my artifacts?

Archaeological Services will neither buy nor sell pieces of our non-renewable heritage. Each archaeological artifact is a record of a time or event in New Brunswick history. The provincial archaeological collection is kept for future generations of New Brunswickers to study, enjoy and appreciate.



Do archaeologists dig for dinosaur bones?

No, archaeologists do not dig for dinosaur bones. Archaeologists study the evidence of past human activity. People have inhabited New Brunswick for at least 10,000 years. Dinosaurs became extinct millions of years ago. Scientists known as paleontologists study dinosaur bones.


How many archaeological sites do we have in New Brunswick?

There are over 1100 archaeological sites presently recorded in New Brunswick. These can vary from a location where a single artifact was found, to large pre-contact First Nation villages, French colonial forts, and 19th century industrial shipbuilding sites.


Don't you have enough artifacts?

For the most part every archaeological artifact has been hand crafted by an individual from the past. Each is its own unique record. Each, in its original context, can provide information to help reconstruct a more complete picture of the past. Research projects that collect artifacts add to the understanding of New Brunswick's diverse cultural history.



Is Archaeological Services a museum?

Archaeological Services is not a museum where artifacts are displayed for public viewing. However, from time to time, portions of the collections are incorporated into educational programming and projects such as traveling exhibits.



What do I do if I find an artifact?

Please notify Archaeological Services so that a staff member can record the find. You may wish to donate the artifact to our educational collection or participate in the Private Collectors Registration Program.



What do I do if I think I have discovered an archaeological site?

Please notify Archaeological Services so a staff member can arrange for a site visit. A large number of archaeological sites in our current database have been reported by heritage-conscious individuals. Your assistance in recording New Brunswick's heritage is appreciated.



What does it take to become an archaeologist?

Universities in Canada often offer undergraduate degrees in archaeology/anthropology. These usually take four years to complete. Most universities offer field schools and this is an excellent means of acquiring field experience. Normally, an additional two years in a university graduate program will generate a Masters degree specializing in a certain aspect of archaeology. A Doctorate degree in archaeology can take an additional four to six years to complete. Such a program will involve intensive and specialized original research. To hold an Archaeological Field Research License in New Brunswick, a minimum of a Masters degree in archaeology is generally required.

If you have an interest in archaeology but do not wish to actually pursue the discipline as a career, you may wish to join a regional Archaeological Society where educational and enjoyable archaeological experiences are offered.