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Thule.docx

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Department
Anthropology
Course
Anthropology 2230F/G
Professor
Lisa Hodgetts
Semester
Fall

Description
Oct, 03, 2013 Thule -They are the earliest Inuit and we have to be careful to distinguish between the Thule culture versus the Thule tradition and they are broadly distinguished from the Arctic Small Tool Tradition (Inuit aka Neo-Eskimo) -There are marked breaks between Arctic cultures so distinct new groups could not have resulted from evolution from earlier peoples -Ca. 2500 BP there was the Old Bering Sea Culture and they were hunting whales for a living and this led to social changes and later this culture evolved into the Punuk and it was them that evolved to the Thule -Birnirk made it to Alaska as an earlier part of the OBS Culture and they became the Thule who travelled east into the Canadian Arctic and they may have entered an abandoned area or they could have met the Dorset OBS Culture: -They were in the Chuckchi Peninsula and St. Lawrence Island from 2200-1400 BP and they are characterized by highly decorated artifacts and they were very maritime focused -Their stone tools were mainly polished slate and not flake like before and they had pottery with small gravel temper (Norton people use plant fibre) to prevent shrinkage and breaking upon being fired (pottery is fired and ceramics are made of clay and they are not) -There were technological advances in mammal hunting like seal and walruses and here we see the first evidence for whaling which led to new harpoon technology (used blown up seal skins to track and drag the animals and we have found plugs and mouth pieces as evidence of this and they were called harpoon floats) -They used kayaks and umiaks with clear evidence for the umiak (translates as “woman’s boat”) which were larger and made of skin and they were used for transporting larger groups of people -They had oil lamps of baked clay (not soap stone here) and everything was decorated and this shows they had an advanced symbolic life and animals were a common decorative motif -They had large houses dug down into the earth with wood supporting the sod roof and there were bones all over in middens (these were increasingly large after Dorset times because of the increased amount of sea mammal hunting leading to more bones) and these show that the people were more sedentary and it points to what they were eating -This culture evolved into the Punuk in Chuckchi and Birnirk in NW Alaska and continued until 900 AD or until European contact, and these are related because they have a wide array of hunting equipment including toggle harpoons, bird darts, throwing boards (atlatl), bolas (three piece whip with weights that when thrown at birds tangles them), and fishing spears -After contact with Europeans these people are now called Inuit but this is less accepted now and they are just seen as one group -There was increased use of slate, settlement size and numbers, and focus on whaling (they still did have broad based subsistence though) -Their houses were usually square and had plank floors with a raised sleeping platform, a cold trap entrance, walls of driftwood and whale bone, and usually the space was divided with the back used for sleeping and daily activities -The cold trap entrance went under the floor before the people came up and this locked the cold air under the floor where it wouldn’t rise or get into the main living area -There is the first evidence of dog sleds and harness parts have been found -They made a rapid spread east and north into the Canadian Arctic and Greenland ca. 1200-1300 AD and this was very fast taking place within 2-3 generations over 100 years -The old explanation for this was that they were moving ca. 1000 AD during the Medieval Warming Period and the people were forced to follow new animal movements and they had to use umiaks -For the Thule whaling was of great importance for food and architecture -Beluga whales were in the Hudson Bay, St. Lawrence, and the Mackenzie Delta and there were huge populations in large groups so there was heavy focus placed on them because they were easier to kill en masse -Bowhead whaling was a group job because of their size and they move through leads in the ice and they are baleen whales (have flexible long teeth) -The umiaks were led by a umialik who was the captain who provided the boat and most of the tools so her was entitled to certain perks but there were other jobs like the harpooner, lancer, and paddlers which each had a position in the hierarchy of food division Oct, 03, 2013 -In Inupiat ethnography surplus food was controlled by the captain and this led to the creation of hierarchies (this is seen to a certain extent in the Late Dorset with the use of longhouses to mask growing inequality) -The Thule had various tools for one job and the circle and dot motif was popular with them too and was a left over from the OBS Culture that came before them -Karigi were communal houses where men went t prepare with rituals before they went hunting Ekven Burial – 2000 BP: -This burial is located on the Chuckchi Peninsula and it was a huge cemetery with a possible female shaman -She was probably 40-50 years old at her death (this was a very old age at the time) and she was laid out with a mask and other special objects -The mask has teeth and a spoked circle carving and she also had harpoons/foreshafts and this shows her status because masks were rare items and harpoons were usually given to men but this just proves her status as a shaman because they were supposed to be of an ambiguous gender -There was also a chain made from a single piece of ivory, ulus (which are women’s knives), harpoon counter weights, etc Thule: Structures: -Here we see clear ties to OBS as their houses are dug down, the front opened with a flat stone floor with a lamp platform and cooking area, the rear was for raised sleeping platforms, and they have entrance tunnels (part of the Dorset-Thule contact debate) with cold traps -Karigi/Kargi/Quargi were communal houses linked to male whaling crews and they commonly have bench structures and one would enter through the mouth of the whale (as represented in the structure) -Rituals were carried out here to ensure successful hunts Other Features: -The Inuit are their direct descendants and many Thule arts were used by them up until European contact -The had dog sleds called komatik, food caches, fish spears, harpoons, lances, bows and arrows, caribou fences used to guide caribou when running towards waiting hunters, fox traps which placed bait at the back of a stone pile and when grabbed it would collapse the roof, fishing jigs with handles, lines and lures, bolas which were bird tangles using weights, and they had breathing hole sealing (these artifacts are hard to identify though because they were multipurpose) Canadian Arctic Inuit Culture Periods: -Early Thule from 1200-1300 AD and new dates show this as a per
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