Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Arctic Artifact Reproductions

I'm working on two sets of artifact reproductions for a traveling mock archaeology dig initiated by Nunavut's Inuit Heritage Trust to be used by school groups across the territory.  One set represents the early Inuit, or Thule culture, and the other illustrates the preceding Dorset Palaeoeskimo culture.  We want to include a few finished, diagnostic tools as well as some debitage, broken pieces, and bones to represent the range of materials commonly found in an archaeological assemblage.

The plan is to include artifacts with similar functions, like harpoon heads, within both sets so that the similarities and differences can be discussed.  Different manufacturing methods between the two cultures will also be highlighted, like the drilled holes in the Thule/Inuit slate, whalebone, and ivory tools and the gouged holes in the Dorset antler, slate, and wood artifacts.
A Dorset harpoon head and tip fluted endblade.  The earlier chipped stone endblade will be contrasted with more recent ground slate and copper versions.

The sets are coming together.  I'll probably do a bit of antiquing on the artifacts to help them look more like lost tools that have been buried for hundreds of years.  The act of burying and retrieving them will further help age the materials.  

One of these walrus ivory harpoon head blanks will be finished and included in the kit, along with a matching copper or slate endblade.  The other one will be used in an upcoming reproduction of a compete Thule harpoon.

We want to include a cold hammered copper endblade in the Thule/Inuit set, along with the slate endblade.  Only one will fit the slot in the matching harpoon.  I haven't decided which yet, but I'm leaning towards the copper blade.  That leaves the possibility of the slate point being an arrowhead or lancehead open for the students to ponder. 
Photo Credits: Tim Rast

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