The Beothuk adoption of iron technology

MacLean, Laurie Allan (1989) The Beothuk adoption of iron technology. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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    Available under License - The author retains copyright ownership and moral rights in this thesis. Neither the thesis nor substantial extracts from it may be printed or otherwise reproduced without the author's permission.
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Abstract

The research described in this text addresses the Beothuk Indians' adoption of iron technology during the historic period in Newfoundland. This industry is interpreted using archaeological, historical, metallurgical and linguistic data. A large sample of iron artifacts in storage at Memorial University and the Newfoundland Museum provides physical evidence of many, if not all, aspects of Beothuk ironworking and is the central focus of the examination. -- Chapter one deals with the background information, including historic, archaeological and comparative data, utilized in deriving research questions pertaining to the descriptive aspect of this thesis. This approach resulted in the first comprehensive typology of Beothuk iron tools, outlined in chapter three. The resulting overview brings together artifacts that have been found by the public sector during the historic period and through archaeological excavations over the past 25 years. -- The combined sample referred to here includes traditional Beothuk iron implements, including projectile points, awls, fish spears and possibly scrapers, that were mostly recycled from European items. The sample also contains European objects possessed by the Beothuk and debris from the recycling processes that produced traditional Native tool-types. Identification of the specific stages in Beothuk manufacturing processes facilitated the formation of metallurgical research questions relating to structural changes in iron that would occur in such reworking of European material. These queries are listed in chapter four, along with background information describing the properties of industrial wrought iron, cast iron and steel in Beothuk context. -- Chapter four also outlines the results of a laboratory analysis of Beothuk iron undertaken in Ottawa. In addition to generally corroborating historic descriptions of Beothuk ironworking, these data indicate that during the industry's formative period, ca. A.D. 1650-1720, European-made projectile points and associated forged objects were somehow acquired by the Newfoundland Natives. These artifacts possibly represent some form of peaceful interaction between the Beothuk and other people, such as Europeans or the Montagnais, a proposal usually considered untenable by students of Newfoundland history. -- After the Beothuk iron industry is described, these data are compared to contemporaneous mainland North American cases, including the Onondaga Iroquois, Labrador Eskimos and Nova Scotia Micmacs. This highlights the Beothuk iron industry relative to North American history.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/4013
Item ID: 4013
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 209-216.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Anthropology
Date: 1989
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Beothuk Indians--Metal-work; Beothuk Indians--Implements

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