Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Set of Maritime Archaic Artifact Reproductions

Maritime Archaic Reproductions
Here's a look at the complete set of Maritime Archaic reproductions that includes the bird bone flute and hafted adze that I highlighted on Monday.  These reproductions will be used in conjunction with some original artifacts and interpretive materials in the Red Bay and Gros Morne areas.  The artifacts that we started with for references included stemmed points, an adze, and a plummet.  The remainder of the reproductions are primarily based on artifacts found in the Martime Archaic burials at Port au Choix.

This is an archaeology case used in a programme that I provided reproductions for a few years ago.  The pieces shown here will help build and expand on the programme.

Slate Lance for Sea Mammals
The Archaic period in Newfoundland and Labrador is a lot more complex than I usually give it credit for on this site.  Generally speaking, the Archaic period in North American archaeology is a time starting 7 or 8 thousand years ago when people seem to have settled down in different regions and developed specialized tool kits for those particular regions.  During the Archaic period in Newfoundland and Labrador people adapted to exploiting marine resources - so it was labelled the Maritime Archaic.  However, there are differences in artifact types and materials through time - the Archaic period spans at least 3 or 4 thousand years in the Province.  There are links and commonalities with Archaic sites in the Maritime Provinces and New England.

Plummets.  These are often made from Steatite (soapstone) and are carved with an incised groove at one end or around the middle. They seem like fishing gear - probably line sinkers.  They could have been used on nets, although I don't think they are found in big enough numbers and they are relatively small.  I believe there was an Honours thesis done at MUN a few years ago that looked at their distribution and form.

Toggling and barbed harpoon heads - like the this one - show up in the Maritime Archaic as part of the regional adaptation to the marine environment.  

People were buried with bird-head combs
There are differences between the Archaic sites found in the southern part of the Province, and more northerly parts of Labrador, so archaeologists have talked about a Southern Branch of Maritime Archaic and a Northern Branch or Labrador Archaic.  Dominic Lacroix is working on a Ph.D. at MUN that examines further regional differences or countries within the Maritime Archaic sites in Newfoundland.  The differences in preservation further complicate things.  We have unusually well preserved artifacts and mortuary remains for the Maritime Archaic in the southern part of the Province, but most of our information on dwellings comes from northern Labrador.  The Archaic sites are the earliest sites in the Province so they have been riding through thousands of years of sea level change which had submerged some sites and elevated others.

I guess its like anything else. The more closely you examine it the more complicated it becomes.

Throughout the Archaic timeline, triangular points were replaced with stemmed points.  The stems grew longer and then started expanding at the base until they became side notches.  That's a trend that happens during the Archaic more-or-less continent wide.

Hafted Adze, ground slate lance, barbed fish spear prong, unhafted adze, three projectile points, bird headed comb, barbed harpoon head, bird bone flute, plummets.  A person could probably have an ok start in the afterlife with a set like this.

Photo Credits:
1, 3-8: Tim Rast
2: Margaret McKeon

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