Cultural Continuity from Pre-Dorset to Dorset in the Eastern Canadian Arctic Highlighted by Bone Technology and Typology

Claire Houmard


Since the 1920s, two main cultural entities are distinguished in the eastern Canadian Arctic, namely Pre-Dorset and Dorset, with the latter being considered as originating from the former. This assertion has, however, been challenged for the past 30 years. To get new insights about the filiations of the Pre-Dorset and Dorset, technological and typological analyses of bone artifacts were performed on collections from five type sites located in the northern Foxe Basin and on the southern shore of the Hudson Strait. Jørgen Meldgaard’s excavations in the Igloolik area (1950s–1960s) have been revisited, as well as those of William E. Taylor Jr. (1958) and the Avataq Cultural Institute (2001–2006) at the Tayara site. New elements of change and continuity through time were observed that permit refinement of the definitions of the Late Pre-Dorset, Early Dorset, and Middle Dorset phases. In the studied areas, clear filiations are seen from Pre-Dorset to Dorset that probably arose in situ. Based on technological and typological criteria, a reassessed relative chronology is proposed for the eastern Canadian Arctic.

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