This mammal bone tool was excavated from an Early Izembek Phase site on the Alaska Peninsula, and dates to ca. 1800-2400 BP. The tool’s size and the shape of the tip are consistent with a pressure flaking tool, perhaps used as an inset into the handle of a composite pressure flaker, or simply held in the hand.
This bone artefact has been previously classified as a hide burnishing tool, but the shape and positioning at the two bevels at one end is consistent with the shape of bone pressure flakers collected from historic flintknappers in western Alaska, illustrated in books and reports by John Evans (1897) and John Murdoch (1887-1888). Click here for an example of one of these tools with relevant accompanying information.
The artefact is curated by the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, Museum of the North, Specimen XCB-105-4076.
The bone artefact is from the Adamagan site (Aleut name meaning ‘place of walrus hunters’), located at the head of Morzhovoi Bay, western Alaska Peninsula, east of the Aleutian Archipelago. When the site was occupied during the Early Izembek Phase, ca. 1800-2400 BP, it was one of the largest villages in the region, with an estimated population of 1000 people in 150-200 houses organised into compounds. During this time, people were establishing contacts with groups living on the Bering Sea. This was a dynamic period in prehistory with an expansion of the Norton tradition material culture into the Aleutians and Alaska Peninsula. Early Izembek flintknappers employed pressure-flaking techniques to produce stemmed dart or arrow points, including the well-known hollow-based ‘fishtail’ points; ‘end-blade’ armatures for harpoon heads made from bone or ivory; and various notched and stemmed bifacial knives and drills.