Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Maritime Archaic Morning

Steve, plaiding up the place
I spent this morning down at The Rooms going through boxes and boxes of Maritime Archaic Indian artifacts with my friend Steve.  Steve and I are two of the four authors working on a publication based on the Big Droke and Caines sites at Bird Cove.  Since we are the only two living in the Province and therefore have easy access to the collections, we got to go down and rummage through the boxes and get re-acquainted with the material.

Woodworking Tools
It was interesting going through the boxes.  Its been so long since either of us thought about the material it was like re-excavating the sites all over again.  We were both a lot younger when we worked on the sites, so it was nice to see that they lived up to our memories.  Big Droke is a large site and has some of the best evidence for Maritime Archaic Indian day-to-day activity between 4500 and 3400 years ago.  Chert and slate tools were being made on the site and there are several big heavy woodworking tools that show lots of signs of use. 
Rough bifaces from the caches
The Caines site is located a stones throw away from Big Droke and was used for a century or two at the end of the occupation.  Compared to Big Droke, it seems to have been a more specialized workshop site.  There was a more dedicated focus on roughly manufacturing early stage bifaces and there were even a couple of biface caches in a large hearth feature, which suggest that stone was being intentionally heat treated to improve its properties.

A finished projectile point from the Caines Site

A retouched ramah flake
Steve and I wanted to have photos for ourselves and to share with David and Latonia (co-authors living outside of the Province) while we all work on the paper.  Taking photos of the artifacts gave me an excuse to use my brand new photo scales.  Lori gave me a set of photo scales from Crime Sciences Inc for my Birthday.  I've got a whole bag full of scales in different sizes and colours to play around with now.  I love them!  We had some in the field this summer and they worked great on site and they're just as handy in the lab.  No more little paper cut out scales for me.

Photo Credits: Tim Rast


  1. Nice Tim. The pictures look really good, except the first one of the short haired Yeti. Where did he come from?
    You can put copies of the shots in my dropbox account if you don't mind. And if someone wants to share a good article on heattreating chert I'd love to hear about it. Heat treating is an unusual activity for NL.

  2. I think Mike Deal could point you towards some papers on heat treating, I am pretty sure he has encountered some of this in NS. I am not certain yet if we have evidence of it up here or not, but we did find a fair bit of good sized quartzite in hearths this summer, I just need to take a closer look when I draw out all my site plots.

    Has anyone looked at the useware on the "wood working tools" from these sites, or others that you know of? I am very intereted in this. Some Innu people have suggested that these groundstone specimens are for digging through ice rather than wood working. In Labrador this is a very intersting suggestion because I am very skeptical of the idea that the LAI and MAI were using dug out boats up here.

    The notches are bigger, but that white point reminds me of the "groswatery" one from FjCa-51 this summer.

    Looking forward to reading the article; and the "L" shaped scale is very nice!

    Scott N

  3. I haven't heard about ice digging with ground stone tools before. That's an interesting notion - they'd certainly work in that capacity. I know I've used metal axes and hatchets to chop through ice in the winter, even though they are designed to be woodworking tools.

    To my knowledge no one has examined the usewear on the Bird Cove ground stone tools, other than to note that the bit ends are pretty banged up. I had a conversation with Bruce Bourque about MAI woodworking in the spring - I think he may be looking at gouges, etc in some detail. I'm not sure though.

    Without direct evidence for dugout boats, I think you are right to be skeptical, but there could be lots of other woodworking projects where axes, adzes, and gouges could be used.

    At Bird Cove, I believe the faunal remains from the Big Droke site point to a warm season occupation, so digging through ice was probably not a big concern. There was lots of wood handy, though.

  4. I've heard of ethnographic examples of ice digging with stone tools.
    Thanks Scott fro the suggestion to speak with Mike, I'll try that route.

  5. Steve, can you remember a specific ethnographic example?


Related Posts with Thumbnails