Indiana Jones is an archaeologist. Maybe you want to be one too.

The first step is to buy a brown felt fedora, just like Indiana's. Step two, get yourself over to City Hall Thursday for the big Archaeology Open House. It's the first one the Hall has ever held.

You will learn about archaeology in Hamilton. You will find out that we have sites all over, from the Paleo-Indian era, 11,000 years ago, to the Late Historic era, when your great-grandfather roamed the earth.

You will not learn precisely where the treasure is. If you know anything about Indiana Jones and the treachery he's encountered, you'll understand why.

Looting activities

The official explanation, from the 60-page Hamilton Heritage booklet on archaeology, says exact locations "are made available only to qualified specialists, researchers or vested parties" to protect against "illegal looting activities."

That booklet also defines archaeology for us: "The systemic study of past humans by the recovery and examination of remaining material evidence, such as graves, tools and settlements."

The open house is being organized by Joseph Muller, cultural heritage planner with the city. He tells us there are 1,300 registered archaeological sites around Hamilton, which have offered up everything from Native tools and pottery to bullets and buttons from the War of 1812.

"This is our past," Muller says. "It tells us who was here. It identifies who we are."

$10 million


An treasure excavated in Hamilton. (Courtesy of Archaeological Services Inc.)

He's excited about a new development for this area. A few years ago, McMaster put together a proposal for something called the Centre for Sustainable Archaeology. That's led to an initiative worth nearly $10 million, with facilities at Western University in London and here at Mac.

The local operation is to open this fall at the McMaster Innovation Park. It will house 35,000 boxes of "curated, managed and digitally inventoried artifacts" from around the province, with labs for cleaning and analysis.

This is headed by Mac professor Aubrey Cannon. Grad student Meghan Burchell is facilities director. Both will be at the City Hall open house.

Burchell says McMaster has over 400,000 artifacts. She explains they unearthed about 15,000 items over the past five seasons on sites at Cootes Paradise, including native tools, pottery, and burnt bone.

Indiana Jones is off chasing a lost ark somewhere and unable to attend. But for the rest of you archaeologists, the open house co-ordinates:

Thursday, June 28, Room 264, City Hall

2.30 to 4.30 p.m., with presentation at 3 p.m.

6.30 to 8.30 p.m., with presentation at 7 p.m. | @PaulWilsonCBC

You can read other CBC Hamilton stories by Paul Wilson here.