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Artefact of the day 23/8

August 24, 2013

Stick with facesAndrius and stickThe artefact of the day was found by Andrius in the interface to the older (probably 14th century) house floor he uncovered today. It is a stick with multiple faces and eyes carved into it. Although not known from Yup’ik cultural contexts, it resembles very much so-called ‘shaman wands’ known from the Dorset culture in the Canadian Arctic. Wands like this with multiple faces carved out of antler or bone have been found on Late Dorset sites. Our wand is made out of wood, but the lack of wooden wands in Dorset contexts might be a result of poor preservation (or rather our stick at Nunalleq might be a result of exceptionally good preservation), rather than differences in practices. The Dorset wands can have as many as 60 faces carved into them. Our stick has about 20 pair of eyes looking both ways. It belongs to a style founded in Old Bering Sea art with deep roots in the Arctic belief systems.

Charlotta

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