Thursday, June 18, 2015

First Nations Artifacts

With the arrival of Aboriginal Day on the 21st of June, the Museum would like to shine a spotlight on the variety of early First Nations tools and artifacts that have been found in the Peace River area.
       The First Nations peoples did not work metal. Instead, they used rocks that they found already present in their natural environment to craft durable tools. Some examples include spear tips and arrowheads for hunting game, as well as scrapers for preparing hides to be used in clothing or the building of shelters.
White chert bifacial lanceolate
Banded grey chert lanceolate
        The rocks chosen for tool-making were not picked at random from the ground. The First Nations people would painstakingly gather special stones called chert (flint), quartzite and obsidian. These rocks do not contain planes of weakness in their crystal structure, so instead of fracturing randomly when struck, their shape could be carefully controlled. This is, of course, provided the striker possessed sufficient patience and skill. Chert and quartzite were the most common materials used, and come in a wide range of colours and hues. Considerably rarer, obsidian is a volcanic glass, and one of the sharpest known materials. It is usually quite dark and highly reflective. The obsidian scraper pictured below was likely traded from a distant region, as volcanism and its products are not typically found in the Peace River area.

Quartzite bifacial scraper
Black obsidian scraper
           More First Nations artifacts can be found in the Archeology Case in the Peace River Gallery.

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