Friday, February 19, 2010

Wapusk National Park Artifacts

Its been a very hectic week. I'm having trouble sleeping again because work is getting so exciting. On Tuesday I had a first peak at a set of Palaeoeskimo and Thule/Inuit artifacts from Wapusk National Park in Manitoba. Wapusk is a Cree word meaning "White Bear" and earns its name because the park protects the world's largest polar bear denning area. I'll be making reproductions of these pieces for Parks Canada to use in their interpretive programming. The goal with this project is to make reproductions as close to the originals as possible, but instead of antiquing them to match the look of the artifacts, I'll be hafting them in handles and finishing them as they would have appeared new.

The lithics in the collection come from a Pre-Dorset site within the park called Seahorse Gully. The Pre-Dorset component of the site has a date of 2900 BP, and the styles of artifacts remind me a lot of some of the earlier Groswater Palaeoeskimo tools found in Newfoundland and Labrador. There's an asymmetric knife, a microblade, a burin and burin spall, a side scraper and a plano-convex endblade, with stemmed hafting areas very similar to Groswater artifacts.

The snow goggles are Neoeskimo. Neoeskimo is a term that I've been able to avoid so far because I've usually known the age of the artifacts that I'm working with and they were either clearly Thule or clearly Inuit. Neoeskimo is a more general term that includes both Thule and Inuit, without making any assumptions about age. Its handy to use here because I don't know how old the goggles are. This style of snow goggle is not Palaeoeskimo, but I don't know exactly how old they are so I'd be guessing if I called them Thule or Inuit. However, its safe to say that they are Neoeskimo.

Photo Credits: Tim Rast

Photo Captions:
1: Wapusk Artifacts to be reproduced with handles and missing pieces
2: Seahorse Gully Asymmetric Knife
3: Neoeskimo snow goggles from Wapusk National Park

1 comment:

  1. Nothing like being kept awake at night by excitement about getting back to work. I bet that never happens to people who have office jobs.


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