Monday, January 30, 2012

Ground Slate Knives

Ground Slate Thule Men's Knife
This is a ground slate late Thule men's knife that I made in 2004.  One of the artifacts that we found this summer made me think of it.  Remember that roughed out ulu preform that I mentioned on the blog a couple weeks ago?   We found a broken and discarded knife at the site next to it, a few hundred metres away. It was made from the same slate, but this one had been completed before it was broken.  You can see how finely this slate takes an edge when it has been ground and polished sharp.   There was no sign of a handle, but you can imagine it hafted something like the reproduction in the photos.

Ground slate knife blade and two chert flakes found nearby.  Its more of an Inuit style knife, but the chert flakes were most likely Palaeoeskimo in origin.  Check out how nice the bevel is on the edge (inset).

Here's the tip of the knife in situ.  I think Lori found this piece.

It might have been hafted something like this.  I used wood for the handle and baleen for the haft.  There is a notch at the end of the handle, with a sealskin thong tied to it.  I can't recall the exact provenience of the original artifact that this is based on, but I believe it was the Western Arctic.
Photo Credits: Tim Rast


  1. This is fantastic stuff guys. Do you have a book you would recommend on northern tool construction (Thule)? I really want to build a kayak in the future using all raw materials and tools.

    Keep up the great work here. really do enjoy this site!

  2. The one that comes to mind for traditional Kayak construction is:

    Eugene Arima's 1991 "Contributions to Kayak Studies"

    There's a copy at the MUN Library. Anything by Arima will be good.

    As for other types of tools - they vary a lot from region to region. I can't think of any real "how-to" books, but if you start to look into ethnographic collections or books you can start to see how the tools were put together.

    The CMC website is a good place to search through online collections. Often they have multiple photos and examples of artifacts, so if you can't figure out some detail from one tool, you may be able to find a similar one to provide clues.

  3. Awesome thanks Tim. I'll have to check these resources out.Arimas not cheap!! Making up some kayak construction tools will be the next project I think!

    Keep up the great work!


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