New Brunswick

Ancient tools found near Route 8 now believed to be 12,700 years old

Ancient artifacts uncovered along Route 8 near Fredericton have turned out to be older than expected.

Artifacts discovered near Fredericton would've been used about 12,700 years ago on what was then a lake shore

Brent Suttie said the artifacts were used and reused multiple times. (Philip Drost/CBC)

Ancient tools and artifacts uncovered along Route 8 near Fredericton have turned out to be older than expected.

The artifacts are now believed to be 12,700-years-old, 700 years older than previously thought, said Brent Suttie, the director of the archeological services branch in the Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture.

"We were fortunate enough to find a fire pit … and a living floor that confirm that the area was occupied between 12,600 and 12,700 years ago," said Suttie.  

Suttie said it has also been determined the site was likely only used for a generation or two. The site was found just off the shoulder of Route 8 and would have been located on what was a shoreline at the time. 

Future of artifacts and site

There are discussions taking place between First Nations, the Department of Transportation and the Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture about what to do with the site where the artifacts were found. 

"The site certainly won't be developed," said Suttie.

Suttie said the site would've been by what used to be a lake. (Philip Drost/CBC)
"Folks have asked for access to the site to perform ceremony, but also to be able to go and just visit the site, so those discussions are happening at the present."

The artifacts are being housed in the provincial archaeological collections facility, under climate control. Eventually they'll be given to First Nations.

"Eventually the plan with all Indigenous artifacts since 2010 when the heritage conservation came out, these artifacts are held in trust for First Nations and the plan is eventually to be returned to First Nations at the time they request them," said Suttie. 

Learning about the past

Ancient tools are now believed to be around 12,700-years-old. (Philip Drost/CBC)

The artifacts indicate the people using them had been travelling widely, or at least have trade or exchange networks, said Suttie.

Some of the tools would have originated in Maine, he said.

Suttie said the styles of tools indicate there were strong cultural affiliations within the broader northeastern section of what is now North America. 

He said the tools also indicate there were also likely herds of caribou in the area. The tools also seemed to be used multiple times.

"There's an awful lot of use of these tools. So these tools have been used, and when they've been broken they've been reused. And then when they've been reused they've been reused to the point where you can't retouch them anymore," said Suttie. 

The tools would've been used for working on animal hides, making tools out of bone, and for decorating. 

About the Author

Philip Drost is a reporter with CBC New Brunswick.