Archaeological Services Inc. was contracted by Lebovic Enterprises to conduct the Stage 4 salvage excavation of the Mantle site, an early 16th century ancestral Wendat (Huron) village located within the West Duffins Creek system in the Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville. This large, nine acre village produced over 18,000 artifacts from the initial controlled surface collection. Subsequent excavation, undertaken over a three-year period, yielded evidence of eight rows of palisade representing various re-building sequences, and over 95 longhouses. In addition to these structural features, there are numerous artifact-rich midden deposits and over 1000 pit features that together have yielded tens of thousands of artifacts.
Mantle site plan.
At its zenith, this site probably housed 2000 people. As maize was the food staple, representing about 50% of their diet, the village would have been surrounded by corn fields extending more than a kilometer out from the site. The declining fertility of the soils, the deforestation of the region and the depletion of small game and firewood would have led to the abandonment of the village after several generations.
Detailed human effigy originally from a ceramic smoking pipe.
Possible owl effigy from a ceramic smoking pipe.
It would appear that the Mantle site represents a community comprised of the people from several villages that had previously joined together in the late 15th century, perhaps for defensive purposes. A generation after their occupation of Mantle, this community abandoned their ancestral homeland, possibly joining with others to form one of the Huron tribes in the Orillia-Georgian Bay area.
The site does not appear to be occupied by ancestral Hurons alone, however, as numerous ceramic vessels have been recovered that bear striking resemblances to pottery found on Iroquois sites in New York state.
Modeled human face on ceramic cooking vessel similar to those found on New York Iroquois sites.
For more information on the site, watch Curse of the Axe and check out the book The Mantle Site.