Settlement Northeast Subarctic Arctic Northwest coast


Materials: wood, slate, resin, raw hide

Size: point 6 inches

Slate tools were common during the Maritime Archaic period. Spear points could reach impressive sizes and were used to hunt large sea mammals.

Fishing line weight

Material: stone

Size: 2 ½ inches

Some of the most ancient stone weights associated to fishing date from the Archaic period. They are generally ovoid stones with a deep groove near one end for attachment.

Plant fibre cordage

Material: cedar bark

Size: inch diameter

Cedar is a conifer whose inner bark can be seperated into fibres and twisted to make cordage. This material is particularly useful for fishing due to its resistance to decay.

Spear thrower

Materials: wood, stone, antler, leather, plant fibre

Size: 2 feet

A spear thrower is a wooden stick that multiplies the arm’s strength by acting as a lever to throw a dart with more force than a simple spear.

Harpoon point

Materials: antler, raw hide

Size: 2 inches

Harpoons with detachable heads were generally used for seal hunting. This toggling point from the Maritime Archaic period was designed to lock itself under the animal’s flesh.


Materials: wood, bone, raw hide, pitch

Size: foreshaft 8 inches

An innovation related to the spear thrower is the dart with a detachable foreshaft that allowed a hunter to retrieve the dart that fell on impact and reload it with another point instead of carrying many darts.

Chert knife

Materials: wood, chert, pitch, raw hide

Size: 6 inches

Flintknapping is a very ancient skill that was used to make sharp tools. A sharp knife was essential for hunting and fishing as well as crafting various objects.

Slate knife

Material: slate

Size: 5 inches

Semi-circular slate knives found during the Archaic period were sharp but fragile and probably used for specialized activities such as fish preparation.

Fire board

Materials: wood

In Prehistory, the ability to make fire was essential for light, heat and cooking. Most techniques relied on friction between two pieces of wood such as a board and a spindle.

Recent studies show that humans have colonized the American continent between 40,000 and 12,000 years ago after several land and maritime migrations from Asia. About 15,000 years ago, during the ice age, human groups reached the continent through a maritime route by following the pacific coast. Then around 12,000 years ago, at the end of the ice age, other groups crossed a land corridor free of ice called Beringia. That is the Paleoindian period. People of this period lived a nomadic lifestyle often hunting megafauna such as the mammoth. After the extinction of the megafauna around 10,000 years ago, the retreat of glaciers allowed several groups to disperse into different environments and diversify their subsistance activites. This is the Archaic period. In the Northeast around 3,000 years ago, the development of pottery followed by the adpotion of corn marked the beginning of sedentary life. This is the Woodland period. This chronology that we call Prehistory continues until the arrival of Europeans which marks the historic period that goes on to this day.

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Years before present

Periods (Northeast region)

0 – 500

European colonization, introduction of iron, written documents

500 – 3 000

Sedentarization, development of pottery and adoption of corn

3 000 – 8 000

Regional adaptations, land and sea mammal hunting

8 000 – 12 000

End of the ice age, peopling of the territory, megafauna hunting