Emily and Krista’s Favourite Spring Artifacts

We asked two of our lab technicians, Emily and Krista, if they could choose their favourite artifact from the spring lab season. They chose two unique finds – take a look!

 Emily Wells: The “Maid of Erin” harp pipe

Close-up of the pipe.
Close-up of the pipe.

A standout artifact from lab work this winter is the bowl of a clay ball pipe with a Maid of Erin harp and a
pattern of shamrocks on the side, and “x”s and “o”s in bands along the stem.

I encountered it while re-packaging older collections and preparing them for transfer to the Sustainable Archaeology facility in London, Ontario.  This is an interesting project to be involved with, because it presented me with a chance to look through the collections from sites excavated before I got into archaeology.  This beautiful pipe, already cleaned and catalogued, was in a bag with other field goodies and stood out because of the intricate detailing on the stem and pipe bowl.

Pipe in hand, I took the traditional “look at the cool stuff!” tour around the lab, I decided that this was one of the more interesting pieces of tobacciana (new favourite word) I’ve encountered so far, and I particularly like the contrast between the mundane function and the very delicate look of the Maid of Erin harp.

Krista Gowan: The Picnic Flask

Close-up of the flask.
Close-up of the flask.

I have been with ASI since 2012 and I have been lucky enough to have experience in both the field and the lab during my time with the company. The best part about working in the lab through the winter months is that you get to relive the excitement when you come across one of those interesting finds from the previous field season. My favourite artifact was not found this past field season, but was excavated in 2007. This artifact was rediscovered while preparing a transfer to Sustainable Archaeology in London Ontario.

My favourite artifact this winter is a “Picnic Flask” from a late 19th century homestead in Vaughan Ontario. This flask is oval and rounded to a rectangle in the cross-section, which probably made it easy to carry and transport liquor. I chose this as my favourite artifact because it reminded me of summer, while we were still in the dead of winter. So I wrote a limerick of what it might be like to be on a picnic, with a picnic flask!


Drinks on a picnic are part of the fun
Sitting on the ground, face in the sun
Pouring liquor from a flask
Into a cup for some class
Savoring every sip while I’m still young