I am teaching my experimental archaeology class again this January.Winter term at Hamline is a month long, intensive course. We spend 3 hours a day, 4 days a week in class – the perfect format for experimental archaeology. The first two weeks we concentrate on learning (or at least experiencing) some basic ‘ancient’ technologies. We started with deer legs – butchering them with stone tools and acquiring useful raw materials – bone, sinew, and skin. Next was chipped stone tools – always a difficult skill to learn, followed by pottery-making, and slate grinding.
I’ve been assisted in teaching pottery-making and flintknapping skills by Jim Jones, an Anishinaabe tribal member and NAGPRA specialist with the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council. Jim is a fantastic teacher. His many stories add a lot of insight into what we’re doing and what we’re trying to understand. I think all my students will remember his story about being chased by a bear.
Dave Tennessen led the ground slate experiments. We’re trying to understand the use of slate points in the Gulf of Alaska prehistory – particularly in contrast to chipped stone points. The students had to replicate a late style, Koniag endblade as part of Dave’s research. Dave wants to explore the issue of form and precision in slate manufacture.
Today we’re going to Como Park where we’ll fire our clay pots and then shoot our slate points into stuff to test their durability. After Como Park the students have to design and undertake their own experiments. They have some cool project ideas so I’ll post on these results next week.
More photos can be found on my Flickr page.