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

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In this study Mikkel Sorensen introduces a new dynamic technological methodology to Arctic Archaeology. By means of an investigation of the lithic chaines operatoires and lithic concepts of production, he offers insight into Palaeo-Eskimo tool manufacturing and processes, including a definition of the functional tool types in five Palaeo-Eskimo cultures in the easternmost Arctic in the period 2500 BCAD 1200. chaines operatoires are documented and explained through numerous drawings, ordered in process steps from procurement of raw materials, shaping of preforms to the discardment of the rejuvenated tool. As a precondition for these analyses, a study of outcrops of lithic materials suited for knapping (microcrystalline quartzes, metamorphosed slates, fine-grained basalts, quartz and quartzite, etc.) found in Greenland is conducted. Thus an important result of the investigation is a well-documented analysis of the dynamic change of the lithic artefact types and a definition of the range of the formal tool types used by the Palaeo-Eskimo groups of Greenland. As a consequence of this systematically technological study, a new interpretation and reordering of the easternmost Arctic cultural sequence is proposed and two previously unknown Palaeo-Eskimo groups in Greenland are identified: the Pre-Dorset and the Early Canadian Dorset. It is therefore finally concluded that the dynamic technological methodology is very well suited for the study of lithic technology in the Palaeo-Eskimo tradition, and that this methodology, in combination with spatial analyses, in the future can be an important method in the investigation of Palaeo-Eskimo cultural history, and for the understanding of behaviour and social aspects in the Palaeo-Eskimo traditions.