Fortney: Condo excavation digs up glacial erratic

Calgary Herald

It was supposed to be just another day on the job site, excavating some earth where an old house once stood.

When workers dug in, though, it was anything but a routine experience.

“It was really tough rock, about eight feet below grade,” says Josh Poirier, site and safety superintendent for the Tela condo project in Calgary’s Mission district. “The excavators brought in a hoe with a breaker on it. They spent about two hours trying to break the rock apart, but they only got about nine pizza box-sized rocks out.”

While Poirier and his team scratched their heads, they soon found themselves joined by many others.

“The president of the excavating company came out, they all said they hadn’t seen anything like this before,” he says.

They discovered that a massive rock — about four metres by four metres and weighing about 85 tonnes — had been under the house on 22nd…

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Report A Find


Have you ever discovered a projectile point, stone tool, ceramic, bone or other archaeological artifact? If so, we want to hear from you!

A variety of artifacts typically found in Alberta. Photo credit: Todd Kristensen. A variety of artifacts typically found in Alberta. Photo credit: Todd Kristensen.

Archaeological artifacts may be exposed by natural events (flooding, freeze/thaw cycles or tree throws) or human modification to a landscape (agriculture, recreation activities or development). As explained in a previous post, Alberta is Rich in Archaeology, archaeologists working in the province discover, or revisit, sites during the course of Historical Resource Impact Assessments. However, there are large stretches of the province that are not subject to Historical Resource Impact Assessments such as previously cultivated areas or areas that do not have development projects on them. This doesn’t mean there are not archaeology sites there. Often, people will discover archaeological artifacts and sites when they are out hiking, fishing, geocaching, working or cultivating their fields…

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Excerpt–At the Dig in Hearts in Ruin

In HEARTS IN RUIN, a Midwestern college archaeology team takes up a Southwestern dig with some unusual characteristics. Following is an excerpt providing just a taste of the project and the conflicts in play. The scene takes place as routines are beginning to set in. Andrea and Daniel have had a recent intimate moment, but have not discussed it since. Andrea is skeptical of Daniel’s theories about the age of the site. But in this scene, Andrea discovers something she doesn’t expect–in fact, something far outside her expectations that changes the course of conflicts in the story.


Under the mid-morning sun, Andrea helped Chloe and Courtney with an interesting shard. She noted the position and strata evidence and corrected Chloe’s photographic technique. But the item seemed, even though the evidence was sound, to be in the wrong place.

She scanned the area. The strata was clear. She decided to check it against the vertical. Daniel was there, lost in thought. “You mind?” she interrupted.

He looked slightly startled. “No, of course not.”

Andrea stepped past him.

He jotted notes in a field book, closed it, and walked away toward the lab tent.

Is he trying not to talk?

Andrea shrugged it off. She reviewed the strata and crouched at the two-thirds point. A strata mix caught her eye. Where the lines should have continued consistently from one side to the other, a gap appeared, line after line, creating a very thin column of earth-tone that interrupted the lines. It appeared to be a hole—a hole that had been carefully dug and filled ages ago. Only the smallest part of it showed. The vertical trench had either almost completely dug up what had been the fill in the ancient hole, or, if she was lucky, had only barely sliced into it. She scraped slightly. The column broadened. Most of the hole and its fill were still there, intact. Yes! These were the nuggets of the past archaeologists lived for. She took photos and notes, meticulously recording all pertinent data, and then traced the column to its bottom, searching for whatever had been, hopefully, buried there.

In her experience, not many things were buried during the Clovis period. She might find remains. That would be a score. She might find trash. Also a score from an archaeological perspective. But when she located the bottom, she noted an object that might not be either. She brushed away at it, taking notes and photos as she progressed.

Finally, the nature of the small object was clear. A small vessel. A bowl. It was wrapped in something, leaves, large leaves, something organic. But the entire setup was puzzling. Even the top of the hole was too low according to Daniel’s numbers. But there it was. There were clear, unbroken strata directly above it. The hole had been dug unbelievably early. Pre-Clovis.

She studied the artifact in place. It appeared to have artwork, but also…no, that wouldn’t be possible, not for something this old. It had to be something else. But its markings had the unmistakable characteristics of…written language?

Stunning prehistoric art discovered in the Altai Mountains of Siberia

The Heritage Trust

The Saldyar Valley in the Altai Mountains of southern Siberia were archaeologists have discovered a stunning alfresco gallery of prehistoric art
The Siberian Times
Will Stewart, writing for the MailOnline, reports on the stunning prehistoric art that has been discovered by archaeologists in the Altai Mountains of Siberia –
Archaeologists in Siberia have begun uncovering an extraordinary alfresco gallery of prehistoric art high in the 4,506-metre tall Altai Mountains. While the region is famed for petroglyphs (rock engravings), new finds are being made in the hidden and rarely-visited Saldyar valley, close to the fast-flowing Katun River. Here beneath the densely-wooded slopes they are discovering remarkable rock pictures dating back 5,000 years, close to Russia’s border with China and Mongolia.
The Altai Mountains in southern Siberia are one of the great undiscovered tourist destinations, featuring breathtaking lakes and peaks, with many signs of the ancient lost world, such…

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430,000 Year Old Shell Engravings By Homo Erectus from Trinil, Java

Wim Lustenhouwer/VU University Amsterdam. A shell found on Java in the late 1800s was recently found to bear markings that seem to have been carved intentionally half a million years ago. The photograph is about 15 millimetres wide. Wim Lustenhouwer/VU University Amsterdam. A shell found on Java in the late 1800s was recently found to bear markings that seem to have been carved intentionally half a million years ago. The photograph is about 15 millimetres wide.

The engraved shell pictured come from a freshwater mussel species that were collected in the 1890s by the Dutch paleontologist Eugène Dubois, from Trinil. The first H. erectus calvarium was also found there. Duboid brough home many other artifacts as well and were stored away in Leiden, Netherlands.

Henk Caspers/Naturalis. The shell, from a freshwater mussel, shows a hole made by a member of Homo erectus. Henk Caspers/Naturalis. The shell, from a freshwater mussel, shows a hole made by a member of Homo erectus.

Josephine Joordens from Leiden University opened these boxes to work on a project about marine life at Trinil, a site 80km insland. She found some perforations made with a sharp object suggesting someone used tools to crack these shells open. A visiting colleague photographed the shells and…

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DNA Research Suggests a Mystery Population Invented Agriculture

Researchers from Cambridge University have announced the recovery of ancient DNA from a 36,000-year-old skeleton, the second oldest skeleton from which genetic material has been extracted successfully.  The DNA shows three things:

  • Our earliest European genomes weathered the Ice Age
  • The date when our ancestors interbred with Neandertals
  • That a mystery population that disappeared for around 30,000 years gave us agriculture about 8,000 years ago.

Homo Sapiens originated hundreds of thousands of years ago in Africa before expanding and moving north toward the Middle East where so many remains of our earliest ancestors are found, along with the remains of our earliest culture before we expanded world-wide starting around 30,000 years ago at the onset of the last Ice Age.

“That there is continuity from the earliest Upper Palaeolithic (Late Stone Age) to the Mesolithic,  (a cultural period between the Palaeolithic and the Neolithic or New Stone Age), across a major glaciation, is a great insight into the evolutionary processes underlying human success.” (Dr Marta Mirazón Lahr, Cambridge’s Leverhulme Centre for Human Evolutionary Studies. and co-author of the study)

Work by other geneticists, archeologists and anthropologists focus on the Nile Delta to the Fertile Crescent.  Geneticists have even identified a genetic Adam, based on analysis of our common Y chromosome, and a genetic Eve, based on our mitochondrial DNA.

We believe that 36,000 years ago we were still hunters and gatherers of the Stone Age, all with black skin but some of us having blue eyes, taking our food and creating tools as we could find them before we figured out that we could cultivate plants and domesticate animals. That innovation appears to have happened about 8,000 years ago.  Agriculture created surplus, which permitted a stable, settled life that promoted the development of modern civilization, for better or worse, with government, architecture, the arts and eventually writing, which further changed humanity, probably forever. Learn more about these findings at THIS LINK.

Get a Signed E-Copy of Hearts in Ruin

For Kindle users, its possible to request signed copies of ebooks for free through Authorgraph, if the author has listed his or her book there. To request a signed copy of HEARTS IN RUIN, click here.

HOW IT WORKS. A writer registers his or her books available in Kindle format with Authorgraph–no charge–and readers can request through Authorgraph–also no charge–a signed copy. The writer receives the request and an email notice, and can log in to Authorgraph and provide a signature, and even a personalized message. The message is typed. But the signature is either a canned “script font” signature, or an actual signature. That “actual” signature can be difficult for authors using a mouse. But some pointing devices, like the pen that came with my touch-sensitive Surface, work great.

I’m not sure how Authorgraph can afford to perform the service it performs. I know it offers features for purchase beyond the basics I just described, and maybe that’s it. I think if I were Amazon, I’d consider paying Authorgraph for doing what it does just because it’s a nice thing for Kindle readers.  But either way, for signed copies of HEARTS IN RUIN, there’s no charge for you or me.

So don’t hesitate. Check out the all authors you like to see if they’ve registered their Kindle books with Authorgraph. And for me, I can also sign a number of short stories, too, since many are now republished on Kindle for 99¢. Here are some of the stories I have that are presently available on Kindle and at Authorgraph. Some of these are also available for Nook, iPad and other formats.





Some Q&A from Authorgraphs FAQ:

What is an Authorgraph?

It’s a personal, digital inscription for an e-book. It is sent directly from an author to a reader’s digital reading device.

What does an Authorgraph look like?

Here is an example

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No, is not affiliated with Amazon except that earns an affiliate fee for any books purchased from after clicking on one of the Amazon links on

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Yes! Every Authorgraph goes only to the specific reader that requested it so an author can write a custom message for each reader. In addition, readers can include a short message to the author in order to provide a bit more context for personalizing the Authorgraph.