Thursday, July 18, 2013

Kleinberg Ossuary talk - July 2013

Some points from the talk concerning the Kleinberg Ossuary by Professor Jerry Melbye of the University of Toronto at the July meeting of the Huronia Chapter of the OAS:
  • Farmer in plowing his field had thought he was disturbing animal bones
  • Excavation in 1970
  • From the records (17th century accounts) villages moved about every 10 years
  • Over the 10 year period people would die each year
  • At the time of the feast, there would be recent whole bodies, somewhat later partially decomposed bodies, and later bone bundles with bones from earliest deceased people
  • Two terms “Feast of the Dead” and “Feast of the Kettle”
  • This was a happy feast and people from outside the village were invited
  • Dimensions: 12 feet in diameter, 4 feet deep, circular, vertical walls, flat floor
  • Find gifts and food in the ossuary, communal not for an individual
  • Diet 50-60 percent corn
  • Sequence of “construction”: dig burial pit, place gifts, place whole bodies, place partially decomposed bodies, place bundles of bones which were opened and scattered
  • After the burial pit is closed and before the village can complete the move to the new village site, some individuals would die.  Their bodies were interred  close by around the burial pit but outside of the pit

Professor Melbye included some excellent photographs of the 1970 excavation, clear black and white photography from back in film photography days.

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