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Weasels, seals, bears: Late Dorset miniature carvings as indicators of individual hunter/prey relationships

Author(s): Genevieve LeMoine

Year: 2017

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Miniature carvings recovered from Paleo-Inuit Dorset culture sites (2800-700 BP) across the Canadian Arctic and northwestern Greenland offer tantalizing glimpses of human-animal relations of this prehistoric group. Recently scholars such as Matt Betts and Mari Hardenberg have begun a productive line of inquiry drawing on representational ecology to contextualize and enrich understanding of the social nature of these relationships and the symbolic role of the carvings of polar bears in particular among the Dorset. Their studies, and most others, consider a broad range of carvings from sites across the north. This paper builds on such work but focuses on subset of carvings: those found tightly grouped in situ, which can be interpreted as having belonged to a single individual at a particular point in time. These "caches" of amulets lend themselves to a consideration of the specific, individual, relationships between hunters and the animals they preyed on, needed protection from, or relied on as helpers, and from there, a better understanding of specific practices of Dorset hunters. Carving caches from Iita, Greenland, and the Arvik and Tasiarulik sites on Little Cornwallis Island, Canada will be the focus.

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Weasels, seals, bears: Late Dorset miniature carvings as indicators of individual hunter/prey relationships. Genevieve LeMoine. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429584)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 14348

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