M.A. Theses: Alan Lewis Hoover, 1975

Socketed Harpoon Heads From the Northwest Coast

This thesis examines a number of ethnographically collected socketed harpoon heads and valves from the Northwest Coast. The aim of this thesis is to discover correlations between the formal attributes of harpoons and recorded function. One hundred and twenty-seven specimens from the British Columbia Provincial Museum in Victoria, the National Museum of Man in Ottawa and the Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby were examined and recorded. The methodology involved first of all establishing a standardized terminology for socketed harpoon heads and their constituent parts. This terminology was then applied to the descriptions of harpoon heads found in the ethnographic literature. Once the morphological-functional types had been defined for the various groups, extending from the Coast Salish in the south to the Tlingit in the north, the typology was applied to the data in order to specify the formal attributes of the previously defined types, or, conversely, to modify and redefine those types presented in the literature on the basis of the substantive data. Three morphological-functional types were defined. The first of these types is the salmon harpoon head. This type includes four subtypes, all of which are specifically associated with one or more cultural groups. The second type is the small sea mammal head used historically by the Coast Salish and Nootkan, and probably by some Kwakiutl groups, although no examples of this type attributed to the Kwakiutl are present in the data. The third type is confined to the Nootkan groups of Vancouver Island and the Olympic Peninsula. It was used to harpoon both whales and sea lions. The results of this study will provide investigators working with ethnographically collected socketed harpoons in museum collections a substantial comparative body of information on which to base attributions of provience and function, as well as to provide archaeologists working on the Northwest Coast with a sound typology on which to base attributions of function using the method of ethnographic analogy.