Prehistoric Neoeskimo Komatiks, Victoria Island, Arctic Canada

  • James M. Savelle
  • Arthur S. Dyke
Keywords: Neoeskimo, Thule, sleds, komatiks, radiocarbon dates, Victoria Island

Abstract

The remains of five prehistoric Neoeskimo sleds—komatiks—were located during extensive ground surveys over several hundred square kilometres on the Wollaston Peninsula, western Victoria Island, Arctic Canada. The radiocarbon dates obtained on the remains range from 790 to 300 BP (cal. 736 – 300), which places the sleds within the Thule and Intermediate Copper Eskimo Period. Structurally, these sleds are similar to historic Copper Inuit and Netsilik Inuit sleds: they have wooden runners with lashing and front trace holes, wooden slats tapered at each end with lashing notches on each side, and antler sled shoes with drilled holes to receive pegs for attaching to the runners. However, the sleds range in length from 1.38 to 1.81 m, and thus are at the smaller end of the size range of historic Inuit sleds. The size suggests either that they represent special function sleds used in addition to larger sleds, or that larger sleds may have been a late historic development, perhaps influenced by contact. The fact that no sleds attributable to Paleoeskimo culture were recorded is consistent with the generally held belief that dogs and sleds were not an important part of Paleoeskimo transportation systems.

Published
2014-05-28