Friday, November 8, 2013

Arctic Artifact Casts

Dorset "Shaman's Tube" and Human Figurine
 I'm heading to Resolute Bay tomorrow for the first of two Parks Canada sponsored artifact replication workshops in northern communities.  Along the way, I stopped in Ottawa to borrow 16 casts from the Canadian Museum of Civilization.  These pieces were cast directly from some of the most spectacular artifacts from the Canadian Arctic.  In the workshops, the casts will help illustrate the cultures of the Palaeoeskimo pioneers and the early Inuit people in the Eastern Arctic, as well as give the participants exposure to other methods of creating artifact reproductions than the stone tools that we will be focusing on in the workshop.  The casts are incredibly well done and handling and studying them is the next best thing to working with the originals.

Some of the casts will serve as models for the student projects, like this microblade knife and Independence I point.   I'm excited to have the chance to study these casts in a workshop setting.  I expect that I'll get as much out of the experience as the students. 
Photo Credits: Tim Rast (All casts courtesy of the Canadian Museum of Civilization)


  1. Great shots. I've always wondered if the hollow bone/ivory was placed over a oil lamp flame to cast a "projection" of the faces on the shelter walls. They are hollow, after all.

    1. Thats an interesting idea. I tried it out with the cast and a small flashlight and I wasn't able to get any sort of projection onto a flat surface, but the tube did glow like a jackolantern, which was a pretty eerie effect. The cast is resin, but I'm pretty sure ivory would glow the same way. However, lamps leave a sooty stain on anything that comes near them. I think that someone would have noticed soot staining on the inside of the tubes if they were regularly used over an open flame.

  2. Thanks for the experiment. I did notice that the original has what I assumed was "heat flaking" on the walrus tusks but I didn't think of the soot. I do like the result of a glowing object. Probably not the original intent, but worth a thought. Have you thought of making the comb with the same face? Check out Ancient People of the Arctic, Robert McGhee (color plate 6).


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