Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Independence I driftwood arrow

Independence I arrowhead
in driftwood foreshaft
 The workshops and demonstrations that I'm doing this week in Resolute and next week in Grise Fiord are focused on the Independence I muskox hunters who lived in Quttinirpaaq National Park up to 4500 years ago.  They left behind their tiny stone arrowheads and hearths filled with muskox bones, so its not a stretch to suggest that the little arrowheads were used to hunt musk ox.  Independence I bows and arrows would likely have been built from driftwood, and reinforced with horn, antler, or bone and held together with sinew.  I've started building an arrow with a knapped chert point and scarfed together sections of driftwood.  I've also decided to try to build it without the use of any glue, just twisted sinew held in place with friction.

Reproduction arrowhead from
Quttinirpaaq in forground
To the best of my knowledge, there has never been an Independence I arrow found, so I am using the uncannily well preserved Saqqaq sites in Greenland as references for the organic pieces.  Unlike the Saqqaq arrows, I'm working from driftwood twigs and branches, rather than driftwood logs that have been split, but otherwise I am following the Saqqaq model as closely as possible for arrowshaft dimensions and design details. I'm using Bjarne Grønnow's 2012 article in Études/Inuit/Studies called "An archaeological reconstruction of Saqqaq bows, darts, harpoons, and lances" as my guide.

The arrow is about 75 cm long,
scarfed together from 3 pieces
of driftwood
The main design elements that I'm incorporating from the Saqqaq arrows into the Independence I reconstruction are the open bedded style of haft for the arrowhead, the 14 cm long foreshaft, the scarfed joins along the shaft, the diameter and cross-section of the main shaft and the shallow nock style.  The Saqqaq arrows are missing feathers, althought they are presumed to have had them.  For the moment, my Independence I arrow is also missing feathers, although I think I have half the school kids in town on a mission to find me some wing feathers so that we can complete the project.

Laying out the arrow, and some of the stone tools used to assist its construction.
Does he look worried?

Grønnow, Bjarne
2012 An archaeological reconstruction of Saqqaq bows, darts, harpoons, and lances in Études/Inuit/Studies, Volume 36(1), 2012, p. 23-48

Photo Credits: Tim Rast

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