Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A River Site

Here's a little site in Nunavut on a terrace overlooking a river.  The two people in the foreground are each excavating a tent ring and the person in the back middle is excavating a lithic scatter lying between the rings and the river.  Most of the little orange flags in front of him mark slate flakes.
Photo Credits: Tim Rast


  1. Here on Kodiak we have 3 stone flaking industries - chipped slate that ends up ground; Cobble tools from greywacke; and the typical flaked cryptocrystalline rock tools. I note that you call them 'slate flakes' - but do you differentiate in the catalogue between 'flakes' from a ground tool industry and a flaked tool industry? Just asking because here on Kodiak I do - a greywacke flake is 'cobble scrap', slate chip is 'worked frag', and a normal flake is 'flake'. Patrick

    1. Generally its the same here, but without the greywacke. Sometimes we find slate bifaces that look like they may have been used, rather than intended to serve as preforms for ground tools. But in most cases they are preforms for ground and polished knives, lances, ulus, etc. The initial chipping appears to be standard hard hammer percussion. We do sort the slate from the chert in the database, because it was used differently between the Palaeoeskimo and Inuit sites that we have in the study area. However, we do it in the "raw materials" category rather than the artifact type. We describe the chipped slate debitage using the same terms that we use to describe the chert working; flakes, cores, biface, preforms, etc because the technology used to produce them seems the same. We can use finished or broken polished tools to tell what culture we are dealing with, but we can't really tell the slate flakes made by Inuit people working towards a ground ulu apart from the slate flakes made by Palaeoeskimo people working towards a notched lance.


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