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Technology and Tradition in the Eastern Arctic, 2500 BC-AD 1200

A Dynamic Technological Investigation of Lithic Assemblages from the Palaeo-Eskimo Traditions of Greenland

Introducing a new dynamic technological methodology to Arctic archaeology, Technology and Tradition in the Eastern Arctic provides a comprehensive overview of lithic stone-tool production—the lithic chaînes opératoires—in Palaeo-Eskimo groups of the easternmost Arctic. Beginning with a survey of the various kinds of lithic materials available in the region, Mikkel Sørensen examines the tool-making process—from procurement of raw materials, through production, use, modification, and eventual discarding—of each of the Palaeo-Eskimo tool types. As a result, the formal tool types of several Palaeo-Eskimo cultures of Greenland are defined, and two previously unknown cultures are identified in the Thule region. The book successfully demonstrates the efficacy of the dynamic technological methodology in researching the prehistory of the Palaeo-Eskimo culture.

418 pages | 58 color plates, 11 halftones, 25 maps, 59 graphs, 20 tables | 7 3/4 x 10 5/8 | © 2012


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Table of Contents


Chapter 1: Introduction
  Two observations
  The problem
  Former technological analyses in Arctic archaeology
Chapter 2: Methodology
  The terminology—the researcher’s tools
  The topic—the preconditions
  The material—the physical level
  The chaînes opératoires
  The ideas—the conceptual level
  Direction—towards a technological recognition of a prehistoric society
  The perspective—the way we perceive and the consequences
  The methods of examination
  The procedure
  How the chaînes opératoires and the prehistoric reduction method is analyzed: Two examples
Chapter 3: Geology and lithic raw material from a Palaeo-Eskimo perspective in Greenland
  Microcrystalline quartz
  Metamorphosed rock types (killiaq)
  Other rock types that give conchoidal fractures
  Occurrences of lithic raw materials that give conchoidal fractures in Greenland
Chapter 4: Lithic technology in the Palaeo-Eskimo cultural groups in Greenland
  4.1 Lithic technology in Saqqaq
  4.2 Lithic technology in Independence I
  4.3 Lithic technology in Dorset I
  4.4 Lithic technology in Independence II
  4.5 Lithic technology in Late Dorset
  4.6 Other Palaeo-Eskimo traditions in Greenland
Chapter 5: Discussion
  Choice of raw materials
  Heat treatment
  Procurement of the lithic raw materials
  The manufacture of the lithic tool assemblage: Typology
  Reduction: Method, technique, hafting and tradition
  Burin technology: The technological marker of the Palaeo-Eskimo traditions
  Regional traditions or ’cousins’?
  The methodology: Advantages and problems
  Source criticism
Chapter 6: Greenland’s prehistory interpreted on the basis of analyses of lithic technology
  Arctic Small Tool tradition: The Denbigh flint complex
  The Early Palaeo-Eskimo regional traditions in the easternmost Arctic: Independence I and Saqqaq
  The origin of Saqqaq and Independence I
  Saqqaq’s regional settlement
  Independence I’s regional settlement
  Overlap in the geographical settlement between Saqqaq and Independence I
  Saqqaq’s development
  Dorset: The Canadian connection and the second circum-population of Greenland
  Greenlandic Dorset’s immigration route to East Greenland
  Greenlandic Dorset’s development
  Late Dorset: the last Palaeo-Eskimo society in the Arctic
  The gateway to Greenland: the region with the greatest diachronic cultural diversity in the eastern Arctic
Chapter 7: The usefulness of the technological methodology and future possibilities in Arcticarchaeology
  The cultural history
  Culture-historical perspectives
  The methodology
  Methodological perspectives
Chapter 8: Appendix
  1. Scientific experimental studies of Palaeo-Eskimo lithic technology
  2. Catalogue—studied lithic artefacts


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