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.
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