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The Beat Goes On: A Continuation of J. Louis Giddings’ Research Into a Late Western Thule Drum from Cape Krusenstern, Alaska

Author(s): Christopher Wolff

Year: 2016

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Summary

This paper examines a small drum that Giddings found in 1959 within a Late Western Thule structure on Cape Krusenstern, and places it within a broader historical context of drum production and use among prehistoric and historic groups within the region surrounding the Chukchi Sea and across the North American Arctic. Giddings only published a brief description and interpretation of the drum, despite elsewhere providing vivid depictions of the use of drums among Arctic peoples. The author’s recent examination of the drum identified distinct characteristics found in much later ethnographic Canadian Inuit and Alaskan Iñupiat examples, suggesting that aspects of their drum-making traditions are quite ancient, and date to at least the Late Western Thule period (AD 1300-1400). The small size and construction of the Krusenstern drum led Giddings to propose that it may have been a toy, as it was significantly smaller than 19th century and later Arctic drums familiar to him. The author offers an alternate interpretation of the drum as a possible shamanic instrument–rather than a toy–based on research not available to Giddings before his death, as well as recent documentation by the author of hundreds of Arctic drums and associated parts from various periods.


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Cite this Record

The Beat Goes On: A Continuation of J. Louis Giddings’ Research Into a Late Western Thule Drum from Cape Krusenstern, Alaska. Christopher Wolff. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 403997)


Keywords

General
Drum Music Prehistory

Geographic Keywords
Arctic


Spatial Coverage

min long: -178.41; min lat: 62.104 ; max long: 178.77; max lat: 83.52 ;

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America