Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Scraper and Fish Hook - In the Bag!

When I got back from the Rooms yesterday there were two tow trucks and a police car parked in front of our house. Traffic was crawling along and there was a car in the street scrunched diagonally into a parked car a few doors down from us. Before hitting that parked car they'd clipped the mirror off of our neighbors car who was parked right outside our house. We got pretty lucky. Parking at The Rooms has been terrible this summer, but if I hadn't been there for a couple hours yesterday afternoon, then our car could have been the one with the missing mirror or the crumpled fender.

Here are two more finished pieces.

Flake Scraper: This is an artifact from Aulavik. (original on the right) Its made from quartzite, that was probably collected near the site from glacial till. I have a tough time getting quartzite in Newfoundland, but I was lucky to have met Jack Cresson a couple years ago and he left me a couple pieces of meta-quartzite from his neck of the woods. I believe the piece I used on this reproduction is from New Jersey. Its an excellent texture match for the artifact, which is a simple scraper made on a bifacial thinning flake. It would have been struck from a larger tool and then modified on one face to create a steep scraping edge. In the photos the flake platform is at the top of the photo and the scraper edge is at the bottom.

When I look at these photos they are kind of like looking at that optical illusion of the cake with the missing slice - sometimes they look right and sometimes they look upside down to me.. The convention in archaeology is to photograph flakes with the platform at the top, but scrapers are usually photographed with the working edge at the top. I photographed this like a flake, instead of a tool, so for archaeologists looking at this picture the flake properties are probably accentuated. It looks like a flake made into a scraper. If I would have photographed it with the scraper edge at the top I would be emphasizing the 'toolness' of the artifact over the 'flakiness' of it. If I wanted to argue that this was a lightly retouched flake quickly modified into an expedient tool, then these are the photos that I'd use. If I wanted to argue that this is a carefully made scraper, perhaps a diagnostic form, then I'd use a photo with the scraper edge at top. I wasn't thinking about all this when I took the photo, it just looked right to me to photograph it with the platform at the top, but another archaeologist could look at the same object and instinctively orient it the opposite way. Sometimes that bias creeps in unintentionally, but sometimes its used intentionally to bolster one interpretation over another.

Fish Hook: The original fish hook (middle) was found at Ivvavik National Park. I mentioned this one in an earlier post and here's a look at the finished reproductions. The two holes at the thin end are for attaching the fishing line and a metal or bone spike would have been fastened in the large hole at the bulb end. In this photo, I'm holding the object in my hand - this is how archaeologist's say "This is a very cool object and if we don't find something better I'll put this picture on the report cover."

Photo Credit: Tim Rast

Photo Caption:
Top: Ventral surface of the fish hooks - original in the middle
Second: Dorsal surface of the flake scraper - original on the right
Third: Ventral surface of the flake scraper - original on the right
Fourth: Dorsal surface of the fish hooks - original in the middle

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