Sustainable Archaeology is a collaborative initiative between the University of Western Ontario, in London, Ontario, and McMaster University, in Hamilton, Ontario, advancing a sustainable form of archaeological practice and research.

Inspiration for the Project

Provincial legislation in the 1970's mandated that any land projected for development in Ontario must first be assessed for evidence of cultural heritage. As a result, Cultural Resource Management (CRM) companies burgeoned and the products of archaeological excavations quickly overflowed the available capacity to house them. There was no long term plan on how to manage, store or share the collection of such volumes of data with the rest of the archaeological community. Today, archaeological practice in Ontario is dominated (80%-90%) by commercial-based fieldwork, undertaken on behalf of the public and private sector. The evidence that results from this work is mostly unknown to researchers and First Nations communities, due to a lack of access to either collections or the reports that are generated from this work ("grey literature").

It is the goal of the Sustainable Archaeology project to provide a solution to this problem of accessibility, sustainability and dissemination of our cultural heritage.


As stated in SA's Collections Procedures and Practices:

"Sustainable Archaeology is dedicated to advancing a transformative practice of archaeology that integrates the many forms of the discipline - commercial, academic, avocational - by consolidating the extensively recovered archaeological record from Ontario and converting that material and contextual data into broadly accessible digital information, to allow for ongoing and innovative research that engages with this compiled and rich archaeological heritage left by the countless previous generations of those who loved, lived, and died in this place, and by all those today who draw connections, meaning, value, and identity from the human heritage of this place."


Sustainable Archaeology is a collaborative initiative between Western University (SA:Western) and McMaster University (SA:McMaster) in southern Ontario, Canada, funded by the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) and the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation (Ontario Research Fund). Sustainable Archaeology is a joint research facility - located at the Museum of Ontario Archaeology in London, and at McMaster's Innovation Park in Hamilton - that will bring together thousands of previously inaccessible archaeological collections generated from across the Province of Ontario as a result of research and commercial consulting activity. At these facilities collections, field records and reporting are converted into digital information, 3D images and contextual datasets through use of an extensive digital imaging lab and integrative informational platform of databases. This informational platform comprising the compiled archaeological record - informed by both archaeological and descendant community cultural values - is then accessible to researchers and others from around the world to conduct innovative research, advance a sustainable form of archaeological practice, and, ultimately, explore the full range of Ontario's rich archaeological material heritage.

Information about Sustainable Archaeology's facilities, equipment, and collections managment system can be found HERE.

Please also check out Sustainable Archaeology's Wikipedia page and Blog.