Friday, March 7, 2014

Beothuk Harpoon Head progress

Reproductions and
photo references
The Beothuk harpoon is coming together.  I have all of the pieces on hand, I just need to do some finishing and assemble it.  The harpoon head style is influenced by Dorset designs, but I don't think anyone has established whether or not that influence came directly from interaction between the two groups or if the Beothuk found Dorset artifacts and copied them after the Dorset became extinct.  There were several hundred years when the Dorset and the ancestors of the Beothuk shared the Island of Newfoundland, but its hard to know how many face-to-face interactions they had.  We also don't know how old Beothuk harpoon technology is.  All of the evidence that we have for Beothuk harpoons and harpoon heads come from the last century or two that they were around.

The two holes on the opposite face
meet in a single hole on this side.
At this stage, the harpoon head is blocked out and I'm shaving off millimetres, or fractions of millimetres here and there to match the original artifacts.  I'm making two, so that I'll have one for my own collection after I mount the other on the complete harpoon for the Mary March Museum.  I used an old kitchen knife for the metal endblades.  The original harpoon head has an iron blade cut from a flat sheet of metal, perhaps the pan of a metal trap (McLean 2003).  The endblades are a little shinier than I want them to be when the harpoon heads are complete, so I'll touch them up with muriatic acid to get a weathered, rusty finish to them.  Likewise, the harpoon head will be ochre stained to match the original artifacts.

I got permission first.  Its still a good cleaver.

The pencil marks are there to guide the next round of cutting and shaping, but its very nearly done.

McLean, Laurie
2003 A Guide to Beothuk Iron. NAHOP Artifact Studies 1. Memorial University of Newfoundland.

Photo Credits: Tim Rast

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