Lecture Notes Week Ten: Anthropology 3291

© 2001 Michael Deal

Rock and Mineral Resources

Rock, or lithic, materials constitute the most significant class of inorganic resources collected by the prehistoric peoples of the Maritime Peninsula. This includes a variety of knappable rocks for making chipped stone artifacts such as knives, arrowheads, and engraving and scraping tools. Less brittle varieties of rock were utilized for hammerstones, anvils and pecked and groundstone tools such as gouges, adzes, and axes. Certain clays and minerals were also collected. Clay was used for the manufacture of pottery. Native copper was hammered and shaped into awls and knives, and hematite (red ochre) and graphite were ground and used as pigments. Hematite and graphite are seldom discussed in the archaeological literature. Both minerals can be found in the Bathurst area of northeastern New Brunswick, while hematite is also found at Markhamville, northeast of Saint John (Sabina 1965:15, 29). Snow (1980:298) suggests that the Champlain drainage area of Vermont may have been an important source area for black graphite during the Early Woodland period.

Knappable lithics include a wide variety of silicates (crystalline, cryptocrystalline and non-crystalline), silicified sediments and igneous and metamorphosed rocks (Crabtree 1967). The knapper looks for materials of suitable texture, elasticity and flexibility to facilitate the production of flakes with sharp cutting edges. While many materials can be used to make chipped stone artifacts, there is a tremendous variation in the quality of rocks from and within different source areas. As Crabtree (1967:8) notes, a knapper must have a working knowledge of many different materials, since variations in quality call for different methods in flaking. Certain lithic source areas became well known in prehistoric times and lithics from those areas were widely distributed within the region. Workable fragments could be quarried from outcrops or collected as loose fragments and taken to workshop locations for processing into tool blanks. MacDonald (1994:3) makes a useful distinction between primary, local bedrock, sources and secondary sources. The latter can be present at a site due to cultural introduction or they may be present in the area due to geological transportation (e.g. glacial erratics).

Formerly lithological analyses relied heavily on visual identification with the aid of low power binocular microscopes. More recent analyses have incorporated geochemical and petrographic techniques that allow for more accurate identification of specimens to source areas (e.g., Burke 1997; McEachen et al. 1999). Primary sources in New Brunswick are found along the Tobique River, at Washademoak Lake, central New Brunswick, and along the Bay of Fundy coast. A number of minor primary source areas have been identified along the coast of Passamaquoddy Bay (Crotts 1984:38-46; MacDonald 1994). The major source areas in northern Maine are at Munsungan Lake and the Kineo-Traveler Mountain region. In Nova Scotia, the best known areas are the North Mountain and northern shore of Minas Basin, the White Rock quartzite deposits and the Ingonish Island chert quarry.

Washademoak Lake is situated in the "Lake Region" of the Saint John River Valley, which consists of French, Maquapit, Grand, and Washademoak Lakes and the thoroughfares that connect them (Matthew 1900:61). The Washademoak lithics consist of a variety of cherts, including chalcedony, carnelian, agate and jasper, which can be collected as fragments along the shore between Belyea and Taft Coves (Matthew 1900:64; Sabina 1965:18-19). They have been described as glassy, translucent cherts with red or gray colouring, with an opaque or translucent mustard yellow variant (Jeandron 1997:55). A recent paper by Black and Wilson (1999) identifies the major source area to an outcrop in Belyeas Cove.

Knappable quality rhyolites (or felsites) are known from the Tobique River area. Clarke (1968) notes this source several times in his volume on the native peoples of New Brunswick. Burke (1997) describes the archaeological specimens as maroon to dark brown rocks that weather to a buff or light pink colour. No quarry locations have been identified, suggesting that this material may only be available as a secondary source. Sabina (1965:16) also reports that agates, chalcedonies, jasper and carnelian occur in gravels of the Tobique River.

Sabina (1965:27) lists chert deposits along the Bay of Fundy coast between Saint John and Passamaquoddy Bay. This includes jaspers and agates in the lava flows on the west side of Little Dipper Harbour, west of Chance Harbour, and Darling Lake. She also reports jasper occurring along the north shore of Belisle Bay. Materials from this area have been tentatively identified in lithic assemblages from Passamaquoddy Bay and the Lake Region (Black 1997; MacDonald 1994). Crotts (1984:38-46) identifies several minor sources on the coast of Passamaquoddy Bay, which turn up in small amounts in lithic assemblages of sites in that area. These include gray quartzite from near St. Andrews, a porphyritic tuff rhyolite from the northeast shore, and black siltstone and a black volcanic from the Digdeguash Basin.

Chalifoux and Burke (1995) identify two quarry and several workshop sites at Grand Touladi Lake, in the Témiscouta region of Quebec. This region consists of a series of lakes and rivers that connect the upper Saint John and St. Lawrence rivers. Touladi lithics, which form part of the Cabano Formation, are described as fine-grained homogenous cherts, varying in colour from black to gray to bluish-green in fresh fracture (Burke 1997). This material is rarely found in secondary deposits. Touladi cherts represent the dominant material for archaeological sites in the Témiscouta area (Chalifoux and Burke 1995). Access to the Saint John River Drainage suggests that this material is also likely to be present, but as yet unidentified, in lithic assemblages of sites along the central and southern portions of the river.

Doyle (1995:300) identifies Munsungun chert as a primary source, due to archaeological evidence for extensive quarry and workshop activity (Bonnischen 1981). Doyle (1995:306) describes these lithic materials as generally deep red wine, dark green, dark gray or black cherts, moderately fine-grained, massive textured, weakly translucent at the edges, and having excellent conchoidal fracture. Burke (1997) suggests that most of the Munsungun chert used during Paleoindian times was collected at the source, but that late prehistoric peoples may have also collected loose fragments from secondary deposits in streams and around the lakes in the area. A second lithic source area in Maine is the Kineo-Traveller Mountain region. Fragments of Kineo rhyolite (or felsite) were spread widely over central and eastern Maine as glacial till and it occurs commonly in archaeological assemblages of the region (Burke 1997; Doyle 1995). Doyle (1995:304) describes this lithic material as a green-gray glassy porphyritic rhyolite, containing phenocrysts of feldspar, tiny glass beads of quartz and several accessory minerals. MacDonald (1994:36) considers this material to be culturally exotic when it occurs in archaeological assemblages in Passamaquoddy Bay.

In Nova Scotia, chalcedonies and jaspers occur as fill in amygdules in the basalt block that forms the North Mountain (Dostal and Dupuy 1984:247). Knappable lithics can be quarried or collected at several locations extending from Blomidon point, around Cape Split and southwest to Digby Neck. The most extensive deposits are associated with the Scots Bay Formation, and a late prehistoric workshop site has been identified at Davidson Cove. Many of the deposits are very difficult to access due to steep cliffs and high tides, but important deposits can be easily reached at Davidson Cove, nearby Ross Creek and at Trout Brook, Digby Neck. Other deposits of North Mountain lithics can be found on Ile Haute and along the north shore of Minas Basin (i.e., between Cape d'Or and Five Islands), and similar but poorer quality materials are known from Grand Manan (Doyle 1995:308). Another possible Nova Scotian source is the quarry site on Ingonish Island, off northern Cape Breton Island. It has been classified as a medium-grained, gray chert, with pronounced foliation (Nash 1986:170). This material has been visually identified at sites along the eastern coast of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, on Prince Edward Island, and the Magdalen Islands and in most reports is referred to as a gray silicious shale (Keenlyside 1990:14; McCaffrey 1986:153).

Small amounts of lithics from the Mistassini region of central Quebec and Ramah Bay in Labrador have also been identified in archaeological sites in the New Brunswick (e.g., Black 1997:34; Keenlyside 1990:14). According to Rutherford and Stevens (1991) these two lithics are very difficult to distinguish visually, but they have identified both Ramah chert and Mistassini quartzite among specimens from the Tobique area using geochemical techniques.

Ground Stone Resources

A variety of less brittle materials are used for making groundstone tools. Hard materials such as quartz make suitable hammerstones and anvils for processing other rocks. As with chipped stone raw materials, fragments for manufacture can be quarried from bedrock outcrops or surface collected. The latter may even include artifacts abandoned by earlier peoples and reused. These fragments are generally flaked by hammerstone to produce a general shape, then pecked with a harder stone to further shape the tool and finally ground with an abrasive material. Sandstones are preferred for abrading tools, especially for sharpening cutting edges. Experimental studies have shown that ground stone cutting edges are more efficient then chipped stone cutting edges, since they dull less quickly and therefore require less resharpening (Boydston 1989:74).

Poole and Turay (1973) conducted a lithological analysis of 310 ground stone specimens from the Late Archaic site of Cow Point, near Grand Lake. Using a hand lens and biological dissection microscope they identified virtually all of the specimens to sedimentary and meta-sedimentary rocks, mainly siltstone and argillite (n=171) or igneous and meta-igneous rocks (n=137). The source of the rocks could not be pin-pointed beyond the Appalachian region, while the Canadian Shield was ruled out as a source region. The igneous, siltstones and argillites probably came from Siluro-Devonian rocks common to central, eastern and southeastern Maine and the Maritimes, while pre-Carboniferous rocks of the northern Appalachians, northeast of New York have a similar source (Poole and Turay 1973:155). They identify the red sandstones and conglomerates as Carboniferous, or Upper Devonian, rocks from the Maritimes. They suggest that distinctive specimens might someday to identified to source locations through comparative analysis. One specimen was identified as Nova Scotian North Mountain basalt, but all of the rest could have originated in deposits within the province (Poole and Turay 1973:171-174). Their results are consistent with our general understanding of ground stone tool manufacturing. The Cow Point celts, which are believed to have functioned as axes and adzes, were made from tuffs altered to greenstone or massive basic igneous rocks (Sanger 1973:23). In the ethnographic and archaeological literature, igneous rocks are preferred for use as ground stone axes, including greenstone, diabase, dolerite, diorite, apatite and nephrite (Mackie 1995:48).

Clay Resources

During the late prehistoric period, the native peoples of New Brunswick were making pottery containers to serve a variety of cooking and storage functions. The specific locations of clay deposits utilized during this period is unknown, however, Allain (1984) has identified 44 deposits suitable for making aboriginal pottery. Clay deposits are located in the major areas of aboriginal occupation (Allain 1984:2), with the majority being either lacustrine clays, or estuarine clays from near the mouths of major rivers. The sources include three deposits on the Chiputneticook-St. Croix Drainage and Passamaquoddy Bay, three on, or near Grand Lake (Lake Region), one on the upper Saint John at Saint Léonard, four at, or near the mouth of the Saint John River, three on, or near the mouth of the Petiticodiac River, four at the mouth of the Restigouche River, three near Richibucto, seven in the Caraquet-Shippagan area, and three on the Miramichi (including one near Red Bank). Allain has made several replicas of prehistoric pottery vessels using these clays. Samples from two deposits on the Chiputneticook-St. Croix Drainage and one from Pirate's Cove, on Spednic Lake, were used successfully to make replica bricks for residue analyses (Deal and Silk 1988). Further, a study of commercial clays by Ries and Keele (1911:96-98), identified clay deposits north of Fredericton, at Saint John, and at Louisville, outside Moncton, that they considered to be smooth and plastic enough for production of earthenwares.

Copper Resources

Throughout the late prehistoric period aboriginal groups in the Maritimes were acquiring small amounts of native copper. Copper use can be seen in three stages. During the early Woodland period finished copper items, such as rolled copper beads, were traded into the area as part of a pan-northeastern religious cult and trading network (Rutherford 1990). During the Middle and Late Woodland periods, small amounts of local copper were collected and made into tool forms such as awls and blades (Leonard 1996:80-102; Monahan 1990). Finally, during the Protohistoric period copper and brass kettles were obtained through trade with Europeans and pieces of worn-out kettles were reworked into ornamental objects, such as the tinkling cones worn by Mi'kmaq women (Whitehead 1991).

The local copper working industry of the late prehistoric period featured the cold hammering (and possibly annealing) of small copper nuggets into sheets and bars that were made into a variety of artifacts. Leonard (1996:figure 40) lists 49 archaeological sites in the greater northeast where native copper artifacts have been found. Of the late prehistoric sites with copper assemblages, the only New Brunswick sites are located in the southeast, in the Shediac area, while several sites are found in Nova Scotia. The extensive trade network of the Early Woodland period that brought in copper to New Brunswick from the Great Lakes area seems to have been dismantled by the Middle Woodland period (Rutherford 1991). It is very likely that local sources became more important, although only small quantities of copper could be obtained. Leonard (1996:figure 41) lists 11 potential native copper sources in the Atlantic region, including three sites in New Brunswick, one near Bathurst, one at Clark Point, Passamaquoddy Bay, and another near Southwest Head, Grand Manan Island. The first source is a mine yielding copper, zinc, and lead, which was opened in 1957 (Sabina 1965:15), and may not have been known to aboriginal peoples. Clark Point and Grand Manan appear to be primary copper sources, existing as copper nuggets (nodules), narrow veins or patches in trap rocks (Sabina 1965:24, 29). At least six source areas have been identified in Nova Scotia, and especially the well known source at Cape D'Or.


References are listed after Week 2 Notes


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