Monday, April 4, 2011

Terra Nova National Park Reproductions

Bank Site reproductions
These four Recent Indian arrows and Dorset Palaeoeskimo knives are heading to Terra Nova National Park, here in Newfoundland and Labrador.  They are based on artifacts found by Jenneth Curtis at the Bank Site during recent excavations in the park.  They'll be used as part of the interpretation of the site for visitors.

The reproduction points
The Globe and Mail has a nice photo of some of the Bank Site Recent Indian points in a piece showcasing artifacts from Parks'  archaeological sites across the country.  The photo in the Globe article focuses on the exotic material from the site.  According to the caption, 14 Ramah Chert projectile points were found at the site, which is a pretty high number, considering the quarry at Ramah Bay is a 1000 km away in northern Labrador.  The people who used these little arrowheads at the Bank Site are most likely the ancestors of the Beothuk, who lived at the Bank site between 1000 and 500 years ago.  Even though the points are small, I could match the neck width on most of the them and still fit them on the long, Beothuk style arrows.  Others were too narrow across the hafting area, and assuming that they would have been hafted in a similar fashion, they would have fit on smaller arrows, perhaps from a child's bow.

Fletched with two goose feathers
Other chert and rhyolite artifacts were found at the site, including stone that likely came from the Bloody Bay Cove rhyolite quarry, which lies just north of the Park boundary.  I used a combination of rhyolite and chert for the points in this set and hafted them in shafts that match the description of Beothuk arrows, made several centuries later. I made the pine shafts an arm length long, fletched them with goose feathers and sinew lashing and covered them in red ochre.

The arrows are about a yard long, or the distance from the centre of the chest to the tip of an outstretched finger; the draw length on the long bows used by the Beothuk and, presumably, their ancestors.

The reproductions and reference material
The little knife belongs to a different, earlier culture; the Dorset Palaeoeskimo.  I've made several of these lately, but this is the only one based on a specific artifact.  The original knife was made from rhyolite, which I matched with non-archaeological rhyolite from Bloody Bay Cove.  The Dorset occasionally ground their artifacts, especially in the southern and eastern areas of Newfoundland and this little knife has a ground facet in the centre.  I found that the rhyolite ground a little easier than chert and periodically grinding the surface made working the stone easier.  I find the rhyolite particularly tough to pressure flake, but grinding the surface would help see me through some trouble spots.  It may have played a similar function to the Palaeoeskimo knapper who made the original knife.

Dorset Palaeoeskimo knife; chipped and ground rhyolite blade from Bloody Bay Cove in an antler handle.  The handle is based on artifacts from Port au Choix, Newfoundland and Labrador.

Photo Credits: Tim Rast

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