Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Pontone, Italy

View of Pontone from a garden in Ravello, Italy

Photo Credit: Tim Rast

Monday, October 20, 2014

Amalfi, Italy

Photo Credits: Tim Rast

Friday, October 17, 2014

Atrani, Italy

Home for 10 days
Atrani, Italy
Photo Credits: Tim Rast

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

On Vacation

Flying over the Austrian Alps on the way to Italy
 Photo Credits: Tim Rast

Monday, October 13, 2014

Late Dorset Biface and Cover

This is an interesting pair of Late Dorset Palaeoeskimo artifacts from Button Point, Nunavut.  I saw these in the spring at the Canadian Museum of History while Chris, Lori, and I were looking at Dorset drums.  I can't say for certain that these two objects belong together, but they are a good match and illustrate how the carved wood covering might have fit over an endblade, knife, or lancehead.  

The upper artifact is a chert biface and the lower object is a wood covering that is designed to fit over the same style of point.  I think its probably a protective covering to protect the sharp edges of the biface between uses.  Although it is carved to a sharp point itself, so its not impossible that it is a functional wooden lance head designed to fit over an existing stone point.  I think the sheath option is the more likely scenario, but you never know.  The Dorset threw away their drills and didn't want hoods on their parkas.  It wouldn't surprise me if they decided that knapped stone tools made life in the Arctic too easy and decided to cover them up with really, really sharp wood instead.

Photo Credits: Tim Rast
Courtesy of the Canadian Museum of History

Friday, October 10, 2014

How to wear the Beothuk quiver?

I don't know how the Beothuk wore their quivers.  Judging from Cartwright's illustration, it looks like the quiver strap was very long and not permanently fixed to the birch bark tube that held the arrows.  This makes me think that the quiver was adjustable and could have been worn any number of ways across the back, over the shoulder, or at the hip.  I'm not going to pick a most likely scenario, but here are a few options that come to mind.  In each version the strap is tied around the top and bottom of the quiver and either left at its full length, shortened by one additional wrap around the tube, or shortened by two additional wraps around the tube.  The version shown worn at the waist is looped through an additional rawhide strip acting as a belt around my waist.

With a very long strap the quiver
could be worn low across the back.
This style makes sense if you
imagine it worn over a large winter
With a short strap the quiver could be
worn at the waist on a belt.  You could
get a similar effect with the very long
strap hung over the opposite shoulder
like a sachel.

Slung over one shoulder.  Fine
for short distances, but
probably not the most secure or
practical option in most cases.
Worn diagonally across the
back, the quiver is secure,
the arrows are easily accessible
and they aren't in the way for
walking through the woods.

Photo Credits: Lori White

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Finished Beothuk Quiver

The Beothuk birch bark quiver reproduction is finished!  This will end up in a freshly updated exhibit for Dildo Island alongside the Beothuk bow and arrow reproductions that I worked on earlier this year.  The quiver is 74 cm long, with a top diameter of 11 cm and a bottom diameter of 9 cm.  Its made from a single sheet of rolled birch bark.  The original peel of birch bark was approximately 50 cm longer when I took it off the tree and the pieces cut from the ends were used as applique fringes around the top and bottom of the quiver.  All of the stitching is done with spruce roots.  There is no glue or modern binding materials used anywhere.  The stain is red ochre, water, linseed oil, and egg.  The strap is a strip of caribou raw hide ribbon about 2 and a half times as long as the quiver.  Its not permanently attached, but is long enough that it can be wrapped and tied around both ends of the quiver and adjusted to a number of different lengths.  I'm not certain how it would have been worn over the shoulder, across the back, or at the hip, so I wanted the strap to be versatile.

I'm not quite sure what to make of the bow-tie.  The only illustration that I have to use as a reference shows a ribbon-like strap tied around the top of the quiver and wrapped around the tube.  I think this is partly a cartographic liberty as the illustration accompanies a map of the Exploits River.  I don't know whether to take the bow-tie literally, but what I did take away from the drawing was the approximate width, weight, and exaggerated length of the strap.  It also gives the impression that the strap was not permanently fixed to the quiver, but wrapped around and tied in place.  I tried to capture the feel of the ribbon-like strap by using a strip of thin caribou rawhide.  Overall, I like the weight of the strap, the paper-like quality of the strap suits the cardboard-type weight of the quiver itself.

Here's the reproduction next to the original reference drawings.  There are things that I like about it, but I can also see a few things that I might modify in future quivers.  The conical taper could be a little sharper.  The width at the top looks good, but it could be a little narrower at the bottom.  I'm happy with the stitching details at the bottom of the quiver, although I might try stitching across the bottom in a sort of star or spiderweb pattern with the spruce roots next time.  I have that sort of stitching inside the bottom of the tube to hold some extra birch bark discs in place at the base of the quiver to protect the bottom of the tube from the arrow points.  The stitching up the side looks good, although I might make it just a hair smaller and tighter in future builds.  Incidentally, this is the first time that I've notices how the Beothuk arrows are shown with their fletching extending past the nock on the end.  I've looks at this image a dozen times and never noticed that detail before.  I'll need to modify the fletching on future arrows.

I'm not sure how many arrows you'd want to store in something like this.  If you wanted to cram as many in as possible, then you could probably fit a couple dozen in, maybe more.  But to actually access them easily, then perhaps a dozen or so would be more practical.  The tapered points made from hammered iron nails would be much easier to withdraw from the tube than the earlier barbed stone points.  In terms of keeping the arrows dry  - there is no indication in the reference drawings of any sort of flap or cover.  I didn't seal any of the holes for stitching the the spruce root through the birch bark, so water should drain out the bottom without too much trouble if you got caught wearing it in a downpour. Birchbark is naturally waterproof and the ochre and oil staining will only help make it even more weather resistant.

Before the ochre went on, the birch bark seemed bright and fresh and new. 

The ochre stain adds a lot of depth and character to the reproduction.  I think a person's first impression might be that its a leather quiver, but if you look closely you can see the telltale birch pattern beneath the rich red ochre staining.
Photo Credits: Tim Rast
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