Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …

Open Archaeology

Editor-in-Chief: Harding, Anthony

1 Issue per year


Covered by:
Clarivate Analytics - Emerging Sources Citation Index
ERIH PLUS

Open Access
Online
ISSN
2300-6560
See all formats and pricing
More options …

Instruments of Change: Late Dorset Palaeoeskimo Drums and Shamanism on Coastal Bylot Island, Nunavut, Canada

Tim Rast / Christopher B. Wolff
Published Online: 2016-06-23 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opar-2016-0004

Abstract

The only known evidence of Dorset Palaeoeskimo drum use ever documented was salvaged decades ago along with thousands of other Late Dorset Palaeoeskimo artifacts from an eroding coastal site (PfFm-1) at Button Point on Bylot Island, Nunavut (Figure 1) (Mary-Rousselière 1976, Taylor 1971-1972). These finds consist of two nearly complete wooden drums and various other drum frame fragments that date to the centuries surrounding A.D. 1000 (Taylor 1971-1972). In the spring of 2014, the authors and Lori White re-examined all of the wood fragments recovered from Button Point, documenting the known drum pieces and discovering nearly a dozen previously unidentified drum fragments. These fragments represent instruments in a range of sizes, but with a consistent and uniquely Late Dorset Palaeoeskimo style that has not been identified prior to our research. In this paper, we discuss a proposed typology of the Dorset drums and drum fragments, and contrast their stylistic attributes with subsequent historic Inuit drum morphology in the region. We will also discuss some of the functional aspects of how the drums were manufactured and the use of foraged coastal resources in their construction. Finally, we offer an interpretation of the driftwood-constructed drums as part of what we believe to be elements of Late Dorset shamanism.

Keywords: Arctic; Drums; Shamanism; Palaeoeskimo

References

  • Auger, E. E. (2005) The Way of Inuit Art: Aesthetics and history in and beyond the Arctic. McFarland and Company, Inc., Publishers, London. Google Scholar

  • Basilov, V. N. (1986) The Shaman Drum among the Peoples of Siberia. Evolution of Symbolism in Traces of the Central Asian Culture in the North-Finnish-Soviet Joint Scientific Symposium Held in Hanasaari, Espoo. 14-21 January 1985). Suomalais-ugrilaisen seuran toimituksia(194): 35–51. Google Scholar

  • Betts, M. W., Hardenberg, M., and I. Stirling (2015) How Animals Create Human History: Relational Ecology and the Dorset–Polar Bear Connection. American Antiquity 80(1): 89–112. Web of ScienceCrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Devlet, E. (2001) Rock Art and the Material Culture of Siberian and Central Asian Shamanism. In The Archaeology of Shamanism, edited by Neil Price, pp. 43–55. Routledge, New York, NY. Google Scholar

  • Diószegi, V., & M. Hoppál (1978) Shamanism in Siberia. Vol. 1. Akadémiai Kiadó. Google Scholar

  • DuBois, T. A. (2011) Trends in Contemporary Research on Shamanism. Numen 58(1): 100–128. CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Dyke, A., J. England, E. Reimnitz, H. Jetté (1997) Changes in Driftwood Delivery to the Canadian Arctic Archipelago: The Hypothesis of Postglacial Oscillations of the Transpolar Drift. Arctic 50(1): 1-16. CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Eliade, M. (1964) The Quest for the “Origins” of Religion. History of Religions 4(1): 154–169. CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Fienup-Riordan, A. (2007) Yuungnaqpiallerput, The Way We Genuinely Live: Masterworks of Yup’ik Science and Survival. University of Seattle Press, Seattle, WA. Google Scholar

  • Gessain, R., & P-E. Victor (1973) Le tambour chez les Ammassalimiut (côte est du Groënland). Anthropologie biologique e/ sociale des Ammassalimiut 12:129–160. Google Scholar

  • Grønnow, B. (2012) The Backbone of the Saqqaq Culture: A Study of the Nonmaterial Dimensions of the Early Arctic Small Tool Tradition. Arctic Anthropology 49(2):58-71 CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Guenther, M. (1999) From Totemism to Shamanism: Hunter-Gatherer Contribution to World Mythology and Spirituality. In Cambridge Encyclopedia of Hunter-Gatherers, edited by Richard Lee and Richard Daly, pp. 426–433. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. Google Scholar

  • Honko, L. (1964) Memorates and the Study of Folk Beliefs. Journal of the Folklore Institute 1(1/2): 5–19. Google Scholar

  • Hoppál, M. (2007) Shamans and traditions. Vol. 13. Akadémiai Kiadó. Google Scholar

  • Hultkrantz, A. (2014) The drum in Shamanism: some reflections. Scripta Instituti Donneriani Aboensis 14: 9–27. Google Scholar

  • Jordan, P. (2001) The materiality of shamanism as a “world-view”: Praxis, artefacts and landscape. In The Archaeology of Shamanism, pp. 87–104. Routledge, New York, NY. Google Scholar

  • Kerttula, A. M. (2000) Antler on the Sea: The Yup’ik and Chukchi of the Russian Far East. The Anthropology of Contemporary Issues. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York. Google Scholar

  • LeMoine, G., Helmer, J., & D. Hanna (1995) Altered states: human-animal transformational images in Dorset art. MASCA Research Papers in Science and Archaeology 12: 38–49. Google Scholar

  • Mary-Rousselière, G. (1970) An Important Archaeological Discovery. Eskimo Vol. 84. Google Scholar

  • Mary-Rousselière, G. (1976) The Paleoeskimo in Northern Baffinland. Memoirs of the Society for American Archaeology, No. 31, Eastern Arctic Prehistory: Paleoeskimo Problems pp. 40-57. Google Scholar

  • Maxwell, M. (1985) Prehistory of the Eastern Arctic. Academic Press, New York. Google Scholar

  • MacCrae, I.J. (2013) How Are We to Imagine Them?: Shamanism, Structuralism and the Zoomorphic Series in Dorset Carving. Anthropologica 55(1):177-196. Google Scholar

  • McGhee, R (1996) Ancient People of the Arctic. UBC Press, Vancouver. Google Scholar

  • Meldgaard, J. (1959) Eskimo Skulptur. H.H. Schultz Forlag, Copenhagen. Google Scholar

  • Pentikäinen, J. (1998) Shamanism and Culture. Etnika Co., Helsinki. Google Scholar

  • Peterson, H.C., & M. Hauser (2006) Drum Song Tradition in Greenland. Forlaget Atuagkat, Greenland. Google Scholar

  • Price, N. S. (2001) An archaeology of altered states: Shamanism and material culture studies. In The Archaeology of Shamanism, pp. 3–16. Routledge, New York, NY. Google Scholar

  • Raghavan, M., M. DeGiorgio, A. Albrechtsen, I. Moltke, P. Skoglund, T. S. Korneliussen, B. Grønnow, M. Appelt, H. C. Gulløv, T. M. Friesen, W. Fitzhugh, H. Malmström, S. Rasmussen, J. Olsen, L. Melchior, B. T. Fuller, S. M. Fahrni, T. Stafford Jr., V. Grimes, M. A. P. Renouf, J. Cybulski, N. Lynnerup, M. M. Lahr, K. Britton, R. Knecht, J. Arneborg, M. Metspalu, O. E. Cornej, A. Malaspinas, Y. Wang, M. Rasmussen, V. Raghavan, T. V. O. Hansen, E. Khusnutdinova, T. Pierre, K. Dneprovsky, C. Andreasen, H. Lange, M. G. Hayes, J. Coltrain, V. A. Spitsyn, A. Götherström, L. Orlando, T. Kivisild, R. Villems, M. H. Crawford, F. C. Nielsen, J. Dissing, J. Heinemeier, M. Meldgaard, C. Bustamante, D. H. O’Rourke, M. Jakobsson, M. T. P. Gilbert, R. Nielsen, E. Willerslev (2014) The genetic prehistory of the New World Arctic. Science Vol. 345, Issue 6200. Google Scholar

  • Rasmussen, M., Y. Li, S. Lindgreen, J.S. Pedersen, A. Albrechtsen, I. Moltke, M. Metspalu, E. Metspalu, T. Kivisild, R. Gupta, M. Bertalan, K. Nielsen, M.T. Gilbert, Y. Wang, M. Raghavan, P.F. Campos, H.M. Kamp, A. S. Wilson, A. Gledhill, S. Tridico, M. Bunce, E. D. Lorenzen, J. Binladen, X. Guo, J. Zhao, X. Zhang, H. Zhang, Z. Li, M. Chen, L. Orlando, K. Kristiansen, M. Bak, N. Tommerup, C. Bendixen, T. L. Pierre, B. Grønnow, M. Meldgaard, C. Andreasen, S. A. Fedorova, L. P. Osipova, T. F. Higham, C. B. Ramsey, T. V. Hansen, F. C. Nielsen, M. H. Crawford, S. Brunak, T. Sicheritz-Pontén, R. Villems, R. Nielsen, A. Krogh, J. Wang, E. Willerslev (2010) Ancient human genome sequence of an extinct Palaeo-Eskimo. Nature 463, pp. 757-762 Web of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Schledermann, P. (1990) Crossroads to Greenland: 3000 years of prehistory in the eastern High Arctic. 2. Arctic Institute of North America of the University of Calgary. Google Scholar

  • Siikala, A. L. (1978) The rite technique of the Siberian shaman. FF Communications Turku 93(220): 3–385. Google Scholar

  • Swinton, G. (1967) Prehistoric Dorset Art: The Magico-Religious Basis. The Beaver 298:32-47. Google Scholar

  • Stanford, D. J. (1976) The Walakpa Site, Alaska: its place in the Birnirk and Thule cultures. 20. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press. Google Scholar

  • Taçon, P. S. C. (1983) An analysis of Dorset Art in relation to prehistoric culture stress. Études/Inuit/Studies 7(1): 41–65. Google Scholar

  • Taksami, C. M. (1998) Siberian Shamans. In Shamans, edited by J. Pentikäinen, T. Jaatinen, I. Lehtinen, and M-R. Saloniemi. Tampere Museum, Tampere. Google Scholar

  • Taylor, W. E. 1971-1972 Found Art - and Frozen. Artscanada 28(6): 32-47 Google Scholar

  • Tein, T. S. (1995) Traditions, Rituals, and Beliefs of the Asiatic Eskimos. In Culture Incarnate: Native Anthropology from Russia, edited by Marjorie Mandelstam Balzer. M.E. Sharpe. Google Scholar

  • Tein, T. S., Shimkin, D. B., & S. Khan (1994) Shamans of the Siberian Eskimos. Arctic Anthropology 31(1): 117–125. Google Scholar

  • Thomas, N., & C. Humphrey (1996) Shamanism, History, and the State. University of Michigan Press. Google Scholar

  • Znamenski, A. A. (1999) Shamanism and Christianity: native encounters with Russian Orthodox missions in Siberia and Alaska, 1820-1917. Vol. 70. Praeger Pub Text. Google Scholar

About the article

Received: 2016-01-18

Accepted: 2016-05-30

Published Online: 2016-06-23


Citation Information: Open Archaeology, Volume 2, Issue 1, ISSN (Online) 2300-6560, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opar-2016-0004.

Export Citation

© 2016 Tim Rast, Christopher B. Wolff. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License. BY-NC-ND 3.0

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in