SOUTHERN LABRADOR, NL – Many tourists travel to southern Labrador to see beautiful scenery and visit sites like the restored 19th century fishing village of Battle Harbour and the Basque whaling site at Red Bay that started around 1500 and lasted for more than 100 years.
Now there is more excitement about the history of European presence in the region, this time from a discovery in nearby Blanc Sablon, Quebec, which straddles the Labrador border.
Discoveries made this summer at the Blanc Sablon National Historic Site have unearthed more evidence of the European visitors who came to fish and harvest the riches of the area and return them to be sold in Europe.
There is also evidence of interaction with First Nations and trading between both.
This summer’s three-week dig turned up over 30,000 artifacts including ceramics, nails, pottery and flint. The digs were carried out as part of Archeological Adventure, a project based in Blanc Sablon and their First Nation partner, Archeo-mamu.
It was a volunteer who found the main object of the collection, later identified as a Nuremberg token, also known as a ship penny. Very few specimens of these have been discovered in North America, most in larger colonies.
“It is the only know specimen found in the Gulf of St. Lawrence,” according to Brad Loewen, a professor of archeology at the University of Montreal.
“The discoveries tell us much about European visitors and the aboriginal people they interacted with.”
More research is being done over the winter, and information will be presented at a series of conferences later.
More digs are planned for the coming summer, and there is an opportunity to take part. Persons interested can participate for half a day, a full day or even a week.
More information on the digs and the full project are available at the website www.archaeologicaladventure.com.
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