Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Good-Bye to Wapusk National Park

One last Wapusk National Park post. We packaged up the artifacts and reproductions on Monday morning and sent them off to Manitoba. Its always the case; 99% of the project will fit in a shoe box, except for one four foot long stick. But thanks to Elaine's packing and shipping prowess everything was packaged safely and arrived in Winnipeg within 24 hours.

I've talked about everything in set, except for the the hafted scraper and burin. Before I get to them, here's the goggles with the original and below is a shot of all the reproductions with the original pre-Dorset artifacts from the Seahorse Gully site. The goal of this project was not to reproduce the artifacts as they appear today, but as they would have looked when they were being used by the people who made them.

Scraper: This style of scraper has a few different names, including transverse scraper and side-scraper. It seems like it would make a decent carving tool, and from looking through the images of other scrapers at the Seahorse Gully site, it seems like there were at least two working edges on the tool. They always have a rounded tip and a more or less straight, rather than concave, edge running from the tip at about a 45 degree angle. They're not quite endscrapers and their not quite side scrapers.  Both the rounded tip and the straight edge seem to have been important and no matter how worn and resharpened the tool became those two features were preserved on the working edge.

Since many of the tools from Seahorse Gully were so well worn, we decided to make two versions of this tool - one with the tip sharpened and worn down to the handle and another showing the tool at the beginning of its life, with much more of the blade exposed. Hafting two versions of the same tool allowed the opportunity to not only illustrate the evolution of the tool throughout its life, but also to show two alternative interpretations of the haft. For the worn tool I used sinew for the binding and in the "new' scraper I hafted it with baleen. There weren't any binding materials found at Seahorse Gully, and I chose to use baleen because of its association with wood handles in other palaeoeskimo sites in the Arctic and also because of the wide hafting areas on the specific artifacts in this collection. But there's no harm in showing the most likely alternative to baleen, which is sinew.

Burin: This burin was selected to be reproduced in a haft because it was preserved relatively earlier in its life, and the burin edge is still quite long and prominent. Over time, like any stone tool, a burin will be resharpened down to a nub. They're easy to identify if you know what you are looking for, but they aren't necessarily the best examples to show people how the tools would have been used. Its a chert blade in a wood handle with baleen lashings.

Photo Credits: Tim Rast

Photo Captions:
1: Elaine making the box for shipping
2: Snow Goggles
3: Seahorse Gully artifacts (top row), hafted reproductions (bottom row)
4: Hafted scraper
5: Hafted burin shown in front of the artifact
6: The burin artifact next to the hafted reproduction

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