Friday, June 10, 2016

Newfoundland Harpoon and Arrow Reproductions

The pointy ends of harpoon and arrow reproductions
I completed a set of artifact reproductions based on artifacts found in Newfoundland and Labrador this week.  The set included a complete Groswater Palaeoeskimo harpoon, a Dorset harpoon head with a tip-fluted endblade, a barbed Maritime Archaic harpoon head, and a Beothuk or Little Passage style arrow.  These pieces are on their way to Nova Scotia right now and will be used by an archaeologist friend of mine in school talks.  

The set is intended to represent four different cultures and illustrate some of the different technologies used in the pursuit of food over time.  The complete Groswater harpoon can be used to demonstrate how a toggling harpoon works.  The small Dorset harpoon head fits onto the whalebone foreshaft on the Groswater harpoon, although it lacks an harpoon line.  The barbed Maritime Archaic harpoon head belongs to a completely different time period and cultural group so it isn't compatible with the Palaeoeskimo harpoon.  It shows a contrasting technology that would have been used for the same purpose; hunting seals.

I modeled the main shaft of the harpoon on the wooden harpoon shaft found at L'Anse aux Meadows.   
The Groswater harpoon, with it's distinctive harpoon head and endblade in place.

Ochre staining the Maritime Archaic barbed harpoon.  Unlike the Palaeoeskimo harpoon heads with a line hole centered in the middle of the harpoon head, this style of harpoon head has a single line hole positioned close to the base.  It relies on the barbs for gripping the seal and won't toggle in the wound the same as the Dorset and Groswater harpoon heads.
Another view of the Groswater harpoon head with a shelf cut on one side and lashing holes gouged through the nose to tie the plano-convex, box-based endblade in place.  The endblade is knapped from local Newfoundland chert, the harpoon head is antler, the foreshaft is whalebone, and the mainshaft is wood.  Sinew and sealskin are used to tie the various pieces together and to create the harpoon line.
Side views of the reproductions.  From left to right, Maritime Archaic harpoon head, Little Passage Arrow, Dorset harpoon head, and Groswater harpoon.
Dorset harpoon head made from antler with a tip-fluted chert endblade.
 Photo Credits: Tim Rast

1 comment:

  1. Most of the "line Hole" harpoons we see in Maine have a longer stem area below the hole. It is thought that a bone fore shaft held the harpoon but also the end of the wood shaft met the end of the harpoon inside the fore shaft. This prevented the foreshaft from splitting out, try it
    Mike in Maine


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