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Diving The Shield Archaic

Discussion in 'Canadian Wreck Preservation' started by Scott McWilliam, Apr 17, 2016.

  1. Scott McWilliam

    Scott McWilliam Contributor

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    Diving Into the Shield Archaic


    Research Hypophysis: by Elisabeth ServelloDraft #1
    Scott McWilliam

    January 20, 2016

    Premise: It is the view from the lake that counts, not the view from the pit . . .

    Hypophysis:

    1.The purpose and function of Pukaskwa pits remains unknown at this time. We believe they are seasonally built, likely “Late” in the Terminal woodland Period, ice houses used to facilitate food storage for prehistoric travel, trade commerce and in particular copper mining.

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    Regional field Archaeologist mapping in Pits "A" Island, Welcome Islands.
     
  2. Scott McWilliam

    Scott McWilliam Contributor

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    o
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2016
  3. Scott McWilliam

    Scott McWilliam Contributor

    167
    131
    attachment2.gif

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    Pukaskwa Pits.

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    Regional Field Archaeologist David Arthurs mapping in site location. Note the typical spectacular panoramic view of the Lake Superior. Consider the following, if you are travelling from east to west along the north shore of Lake Superior this spot and your ice and bark pile is visible to the naked eye as soon as you round the tip of the Sleeping Giant. The island is too small to support either large herbivores or bears year round. It is a short walk to the shore where large blocks of ice are annually deposited with the spring break up of Lake Superior.
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2016
  4. Scott McWilliam

    Scott McWilliam Contributor

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    Argument:

    a. Our understanding of regional archaeology is greatly frustrated by the international border and subsequent ethnographic bias. In brief we tend to think too much east west and not enough north south. It is common knowledge that refrigeration pit technology is widely used in the Arctic. Food was cached to facilitate long hunting trips by digging below the perma-frost and the burying the food, covering and securing the cache.

    b. In both the Arctic and Lake Superior the down side of this technology would have been the same, animals, bears in particular, digging up your food. Some Pukaskwa pits can be found on Islands, the Welcome Islands, Thompson Island etc. The advantage to these locations and a point for further consideration on other sites, is that the island did not have bears or other predators, vermin or the neighbours to eat your food.

    c. While we may never know how this practice came to the region I would be remise not to note the Winisk River is a well now canoe rout to the arctic close at hand.

    d. Pukaskwa pit were seasonally built in the early spring when the ice was breaking up. Lake Superior is often calm with a heavy fog at this time of year. “Little boats stay near the shore, larger vessels may venture more,” conceptually may have been well known and practised tradition amongst our ancient mariners. They travelled by “coasting” they tended to follow the coast line to get from point A to point B. Clearly they also could and did travel from the Keweenaw Peninsula to Isle Royale. The distance from Houghton to Rock Harbour Isle Royle is 73 miles and due to the curve of the earth at times no land can be seen and celestial navigation was used.

    e. With Pukaskwa pits location is important.

    I. Pukaskwa pits are found on cobble beaches. They often occur on subservient cobble beaches. This is the easiest place to make a hole in the early spring when the ground is frozen. With the spring break up large chunks of ice is annually deposited on the adjacent lake shore. A couple of men could easily dig a pit and transport one or two tons of ice and food cache in the pit in half a day. By then covering the ice with something perhaps Birch bark white side out you would have an ice house that would keep food frozen well into the month of July. They would likely travel with large sheets of bark to effect hull repairs when necessary.

    ii. As noted by just about every archaeologist who has looked at them Pits are often found in areas with a beautiful panoramic view of the lake. Also illustrated in above photo. This has lead to the idea that they were built perhaps for a ceremonial purpose, vision quest etc., We think it is the view from the lake that matters not the view from the pit. A large pile of ice covered in birch bark on dark rock beach with space vegetation would be easy to find on the way home in a few weeks.

    iii. Anomalies. Some pit locations fall outside type of location described. In this model they seem to have less than optimal locations. We think this Pit construction occurred for two reasons one planned the other opportunistic. Ideal highly visible locations were sought out and built in key locations on these prehistoric canoes routs. These pits could be reused annually. While travelling they would have opportunistic kills. When boating at Isle Royale it is common to see moose swimming across channels or from one Island to another. In the Slate Islands Caribou are often encountered swimming from one Island to another. These animals are fast swimmers but large canoes 36'+ would have a hull speed just under 10 knots and when encountered in the water it would be an easy kill. The extra food could then be cached away is a kill site specific pit built close at hand, food on the way home.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2016
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  5. Scott McWilliam

    Scott McWilliam Contributor

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    Prehistoric Fish weirs:

    Prehistoric fish weirs unlike Pukaskwa pits are found in the lower lakes. Pukaskwa pits are found only in Northern latitudes where they can provide refrigeration for a reasonable length of time. In terms of entropy energy is only invested for a reasonable return. I once observed prehistoric fish weirs in Fork Bay on the Sibley Peninsula and others have studied them. They work like over sized minnow traps. They are baited and the are funnelled though a large opening through a small hole the fish then have difficulty finding there way out. As long as they have a food supply they stay alive. They may have had several applications, such as a food source to a nearby habitation site, or in this case a food source for travellers. An easy place to find food at the end of a long canoe, mining trip. They again serve as food banks.

    Trapping:

    While speculation, we think that pits may have been used in conjunction with trapping as well as hunting and fishing. If engaged in a seasonal prehistoric copper mining and trading activities and travelling the same water rout in order to have something to eat on the may home traps and snares could harvest game and provide food days or weeks into the future. The pits could again provide seasonal storage.

    The size of the pit may be relative to the size of the canoe. We think task specific birch bark canoes were built through out the region. Large canoes up to 65' were built the advantage then as now is greater stability, seaworthiness, and a faster hull speed. When canoeing with VFR the Southern tip of the Sibley Peninsula would have been a good place to start your trip to Isle Royal. The prehistoric copper mining sites at McCargoe Cove and Siskowit are in the North end of the Island. This is the short cut to the copper. The bigger the boat the more manpower more food could be stored in larger pits.

    Lake travel in large canoes had a number of disadvantages. It was very similar to problems faced in the arctic. Explorer Dr. John Rae is well known for his arctic explorations. He also made an overland trip in the winter from Fort William to Sault Saint Marie Ontario. (To receive instructions on how to use a sextant.) His experience here was the same as in the Arctic. Small groups of men who all engage in hunting along the way could supplement their provisions and travel great distances light and fast. Many early arctic explores often paid the price when travelling in larger groups. They environment could not sustain them. You do not take thirty of your friends deer hunting.

    With the large canoes required for the trip to Isle Royle and other large stretches of open water there was a trade off. The optimal boat size made for enough manpower for boating made for inefficient sized group for hunting. This is some of the technology that was employed to facilitate long distance canoe trips to offset this problem.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2016
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  6. Scott McWilliam

    Scott McWilliam Contributor

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    Field work:

    Pits:

    We are hoping to build our own pits fill them with ice and measure thermal efficiency. How long does pit refrigeration work? A number of covering such as birch bark will be tested.

    To further test the idea as pits as easy to locate food caches we may use something like a white bed sheet on a frame placed near existing pits and then photographed from the lake. We are interested with in Pukaskwa pits studies conducted by others and their thinking.

    Weirs:

    While it is going to be difficult given the various ministries, parks etc., involved but we would like to build a number of fish weirs and study them, using underwater video to see if they would have been effective as described in our model.

    Shipwrecks:

    Prehistoric artifacts have come out of the lake in a number of places. Large copper artifacts from Black Bay, and Black Duck ceramics from Nipigon Bay. For some reason the mind of the archaeologist seems to turn to ancient lake levels on the subject. In some areas during the Houghton low the lake level was 120 feet lower than it is today. Terrestrial archaeologists have suggested that these artifacts are associated with inundated terrestrial sites. While possible we feel that these artifacts have been recovered from shipwreck sites. Large canoes lost while engaged in mining at trading activities. We intent to visit and hope to rediscover and study these and other shipwreck sites associated with pre historic mining and trade routs and points of shelter.

    How Old?

    That is a difficult question. In 1985 the Submerged Cultural Resource Unit recovered a prehistoric ceramic pot in Rock Harbour Channel, while conduction underwater archaeology studies at the park. This vessel is described as Juntunen by Dr. Patrick Martin named after the Juntenen site in the Straights of Mackinac. This ceramic style was also described as Huron Petun by the late Dr. Ken Dawson, from Lakehead University. This vessel dates to 1020-1200 and it was found in seventy feet of water a short distance from the Siskowit Mine site. This location was mined both historically and prehistorically. Find location.

    48̊06' 28.65"N 88̊33'15.17"
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2016
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  7. Scott McWilliam

    Scott McWilliam Contributor

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  8. Scott McWilliam

    Scott McWilliam Contributor

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    399475_10150702263189325_1076752248_n.jpg

    After excavation the ceramic was placed into a submerged tank filled with water which was then lifted to the surface. It did not break the air water interface until conservation.

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    After Concervation.
     
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  9. Scott McWilliam

    Scott McWilliam Contributor

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  10. Scott McWilliam

    Scott McWilliam Contributor

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    attachment.gif

    At the Agawa pictograph site note the rock art. A picture of a canoe with five men in it, this would make the boat a little over 26'. Pictures of two sea serpents and the ultimate Boreal bad guy, Misshepezhieu. The dragon like creature who is so large the spines on his back are the waves on the lake and with a single flip of his tail he can wipe out your entire canoe party. The location is just west of a small bay that may have been a camp site and it may, in part, be kind of a warning sign about dangerous waters ahead.


    Pictures.

    Author, archaeological theorist developing hypothesis.

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    Last edited: Apr 18, 2016
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