Pre-Dorset cultures

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Archaic Stage hunter‐gatherer communities living in northern areas of North America in the period 1700–900 bc. There is much debate about the relationship of Pre‐Dorset cultures to the Arctic Small Tool Tradition and other related groups. Although the question has not been solved, the matter of seasonality may underlie some of the apparent differences. Pre‐Dorset groups relied heavily on seals for their subsistence, hunting them at their winter breathing holes. Musk ox, caribou, polar bears, and other smaller animals were hunted with harpoons and bows and arrows. Fish, especially Arctic char, were caught in weirs and traps and taken using fish spears. Pre‐Dorset communities used bone and ivory needles to make tailored clothing. They kept dogs, perhaps for hunting. Camps are generally coastal. Summer dwellings seem to have been tents weighted down by stones around the periphery. Winter dwellings may have been built from stone blocks like the familiar igloos of more recent times. Heat and light were provided by soapstone lamps burning seal fat. The Pre‐Dorset culture evolved into the Dorset Tradition around 800–500 bc, continuity being evident in the tool kits, although Dorset assemblages generally include more ground stone items.

Subjects: Archaeology.

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