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"Daring ideas are like chessmen moved forward. They may be beaten,
but they may start a winning game."

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German writer and scientist

Making research reel

{Dr. Peter Pope}
Dr. Peter Pope

Archaeology in this province is headed to the movies. Memorial University, in partnership with the Newfoundland Archaeological Heritage Outreach Program (NAHOP), a Community University Research Alliance, is expanding its ever-growing collection of videos, and throughout chronicling archaeological research in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Since 2000, there have been three such videos produced by this initiative, each of them giving audiences another side of the archaeological story.

The first film, Outport Archaeology, profiles community participation in archaeology around Burnside, Fleurs de Lys, the Cupids/Dildo area, and Placentia. Working in Archaeology, the second video, raises some key funding and organizational concerns with regards to digs in this province.

Just released in late 2002, however, "this third video adds something new," explained Dr. Peter Pope, research director of NAHOP, and associate professor of Anthropology at Memorial. "Bound for Avalon gives voice to the work of five archaeologists who are shedding light on a formative period in Newfoundland history," said Dr. Pope.

Beginning in the 1500's, migratory European crews fished along the coasts of Newfoundland, leading to considerable competition for cod in the 1600's. As settlements slowly took root along the English Shore and around the French establishment at Placentia, the war between France and Britain in 1689 spread to Newfoundland, changing the course of history and life in that region forever.

Researched by Rhonda Buckley, and co-produced by Fred Hollingshurst for Distance Education and Learning Technologies, Bound for Avalon showcases sites in Ferryland, Renews, Fermeuse, Cupids and Placentia, providing insights into the life of early planters and fishers. "The video really shows how digs in places like the Baccalieu Trail, for instance, are doing more than just focusing on one area," explained Dr. Pope. "They are putting their work in a context - I think it's very smart, developing an integrated approach - a much bigger thing."

At the official launch of their third video on March 13, 2003, the Archaeology Unit gathered with friends and supporters to watch Bound For Avalon, announcing, for the first time SSHRC's decision to fund NAHOP's work for a two-year completion phase.

"Newfoundland and Labrador is unique in that communities have taken it upon themselves to develop archaeological projects from their own initiative. This is very rare. So with funding for two final years, we are going to try and strengthen strategically chosen regional projects so that they can then, in turn, facilitate the growth of further projects once NAHOP is gone. We also hope to emphasize ongoing university and community alliances, building a strong foundation for future growth long after this program is over."

The development and distribution of the three archaeology videos will certainly serve to enhance such mandates, linking university resources with the vision and dedication of numerous communities. "The work being done on the Baccalieu Trail, as well as the expanding work in and around Fleurs de Lys, are great examples of how effective cooperative efforts can be," said Dr. Pope. "A lot of NAHOP's work consists of setting up networks to link people to research possibilities. The videos give a window to such links, and to great opportunities in the future."

As conveyed in Bound for Avalon, the impact of investment in archaeology is far-reaching, providing research and experiential opportunities for students, community workers, tourists, and the province as a whole. "With the completion of NAHOP, I hope the province will step in to provide fellowship opportunities to graduate students who can take research ideas and turn them into actual digs that benefit everyone. It's really a win-win situation," commented Dr. Pope.

With two years left to build and promote such partnerships, Steve Mills, coordinator of NAHOP, and Dr. Pope are looking forward to the successful release of this, their third video. "Bound for Avalon will be available at the various dig sites - providing tourists with in-depth information about the site they are visiting, as well as linking them with other digs they might want to see for themselves," Dr. Pope added. "The video lets people know what's out there, in terms of research and development - both now, and, I hope, into the future."

To find out more, please contact the NAHOP office at (709) 737-8923.

{Memorial University of Newfoundland}