Picture of the Week

This week we showcase a very unique artifact, a bone needle.  This tool is very long and thick compared to the modern steel needles that we are more familiar with, but it still very sharp at the tip. The eye of the needle is diamond-shaped and tapered, which shows us that the eye was made by gouging the bone with a stone flake, rather than using a bow drill. A bow drill would have left a round hole rather than a diamond-shaped one. This type of artifact is extremely rare in North America, especially one that is complete. Most of the time when they are found, bone needles like these are broken around the eye, or you just find the tip of the needle.

This artifact was found in a dry cave in Utah, which is filled with artifacts left behind from thousands of years of indigenous people living in the cave.  These repeated occupations left behind countless layers of juniper bark, which was laid down as a floor matting. The bone needle was found three meters below the modern surface. Talk about finding a needle in a haystack!

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Author: Reid Graham

Reid J. Graham is an Archaeologist with Tree Time Services Inc. in Edmonton, where he carries out Historic Resources Impact Assessments for Forestry projects in Northern and Central Alberta. Reid is a recent graduate from the University of Alberta, where he completed a Master of Arts in Anthropology. In his thesis, Reid explored the relationships between the Besant Phase and the Sonota Complex, two interconnected Late Precontact cultures on the Northern Plains. He completed a Honours Degree in Anthropology at the University of Winnipeg in 2011, and has worked at archaeological projects in all over Western North America, including Upper Fort Gary in Winnipeg, the Quarry of the Ancestors north of Fort McMurry, and the Promontory Caves in Utah. Reid has also participated in numerous mitigation projects in Alberta and Ontario. His current research interests include Northern Plains archaeological research, GIS analysis, communal bison hunting, and inter-group relationships.

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