Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Port au Choix Dorset Palaeoeskimo Reproductions

Artifact reproductions of
Middle Dorset Palaeoeskimo
cutting, scraping, and carving tools
The set of Dorset Palaeoeskimo hafted stone tools is ready to send to it's new home at Port au Choix National Historic Site.  These pieces were commissioned by Parks Canada to use in hands on interpretation.  They are made from the same wood, chert, antler, ivory, bone, and sinew available to the Dorset culture 1500 years ago.  The nephrite that I used in the burin-like tools is similar to what has been found here, but I used stone quarried in B.C.  Likewise, the reddish microblades are made from an exotic jasper.  The red and green stones give the set a bit of a holiday feel.

From left to right; A side-hafted chert microblade with sinew lashing and a wood handle and brace piece, a hafted chert endscraper with sinew lashing and wood handle, a chert knife with sinew lashing and antler handle, and a hafted nephrite burin-like tool with sinew lashing on a wood handle with a bone brace.
There are a couple extra pieces in the set shown here, but most of this will be in the mail to Port au Choix shortly.

Multiple views of the hafted endscrapers.  These are unifacial tools and they were hafted in unifacial handles.

Multiple views of side-hafted microblades.  These are extremely sharp slicing tools for use on soft organic materials.  Along with some friends, I once cut more than 330 feet of seal skin into rope using a knife like this and it is still sharp today. 
Hafted burin-like tools.  Archaeologically the brace pieces from BLT handles and the brace pieces from microblade handles look very similar, but they had slightly different functions.  Here, the back of the brace is important in supporting the back of the nephrite bit and the brace fits inside the handle to made the handle width adjustable.  I used sinew lashing to tie down the thin end of the brace, but the original artifact that I based this reproduction on used a hole and a small wood peg instead.  Another difference is that the wood handle opposite the brace is an open slot on my reproduction, but on the original artifact this is closed off below the notch of the tool.  I didn't realize that when I made the reproduction, but the notch and base of the Port au Choix BLTs are also a slightly different style than the reference artifact that I used.  I'm ok with the open slot in this instance.

Dorset knives with carved antler handles, based on artifacts found at Port au Choix.  A couple of these handles have been found and I believe that they represent a stylized polar bear.

A close-up view of the lashing on one of the scrapers.  The lashing is twisted sinew thread approximately 1 mm thick.  Sometimes it is a single thread that has been twisted and other times I twisted multiple strands together to make a longer cord. 

The twisted sinew lashing on one of the burin-like tools.  I coated the thread with hide glue and reinforced the contact surfaces between the stone tools and their handles with the same.  The hide glue hardens and protects the sinew, without changing the look of the tool. 
A sample knife, endscraper, microblade, and burin-like tool with a scale.
Photo Credits: Tim Rast

1 comment:

  1. Great array of hafted tools, very nice work. The System with handle and bone brace is not very obvious, not something I would have come up with. Love the scarpers, too.


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