A Technological Study of a Canadian Thule Type-Site: Naujan (ca. AD 1300-1900)

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Abstract

Naujan is located on the north coast of Repulse Bay in Eastern Arctic, a region occupied by the Aivilirmiut at the beginning of the 20th century. This site, the first professionally excavated in the Arctic, is generally considered as the ‘type-site’ for the Eastern Arctic Thule culture. In 1922, during summer, Therkel Mathiassen from the National Museum of Denmark participated in the well-known 5th Thule Expedition led by Knud Rasmussen, and was in charge of the archaeological investigations. With the help of his Greenlandic assistant Jacob Olsen, he carried out excavations during six weeks and brought back a rich collection of artefacts. Of these about 2,800 artefacts were recorded from twenty structures. Houses VI and VIII were the first and most carefully excavated. All of the artefacts from these two features, which represent about 17% of the whole collection, were recorded and mapped. Information on spatial distribution as well as stratigraphic position were also carefully reported, but less precisely for the houses excavated later. Therkel Mathiassen used a continuous numeration for the whole site, the numbers assigned to artefacts corresponding to the order of their discovery. The osseous assemblages from Houses VI and VIII have been carefully analyzed. The present thorough technological study provides new information regarding the manufacturing processes for antler, bone and ivory artefacts. Grooving for the debitage sequence and whittling for the shaping dominate. The raw material selection, the techniques of manufacturing and hafting, as well as the perforations, clearly distinguish the technological traditions of the craftsmen who occupied House VI from those of House VIII. Our study leads to the conclusion that at least two distinct chronological stages of occupation can be identified. The Naujan site as a whole can thus no longer be considered as a reference site for a specific Thule phase of the Eastern Arctic occupation.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSociete Prehistorique Francaise. Bulletin
Volume114
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)445-468
Number of pages24
ISSN0249-7638
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sep 2017

Keywords

  • Thule culture
  • Central Canadian Arctic
  • Hudson Bay
  • Naujan
  • Bone technology
  • Therkel Mathiassen
  • Fifth Thule Expedition

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