Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Dr. A. Cannon


This dissertation aims to identify and understand the seasonal, subsistence, and social contexts of lithic tool production, use, and discard amongst the Pre-Dorset peoples inhabiting southern Baffin Island. Lithic artifact assemblages from four coastal and three inland site components are examined for patterns of variability that can be used to address two interrelated research problems. The first focuses on understanding functional differences between Pre-Dorset inland and coastal sites. While Arctic archaeologists generally believe the Pre-Dorset followed a season round structured by inland and coastal activities, comparative analyses to explore how sites in these locales were used and when they were occupied have not been conducted. The second problem seeks to study variability as though "people mattered." Current analyses of Pre-Dorset culture focus largely on culture historical issues, thus there is a little sense of who these people were. Over 24,000 lithic artifacts are analyzed using a combined methodological approach. Isolated patterns of variability are interpreted using two theoretical frameworks: the organization of technology, and agency theory. Because the stated research problems have different spatial and temporal dimensions, a multi-scalar framework is used to organize separate scales of analysis. The results of this study indicate the Pre-Dorset people occupying southern Baffin Island did follow a seasonal round structured by inland and coastal activities. However, the primary incentive drawing people inland was the availability of lithic raw materials. Using a direct procurement strategy, specially organized task groups traveled to the interior during the warm season to renew their toolstone supplies and interact with other distant groups. Those individuals who did not travel inland remained at sites in the coastal uplands. At the end of summer, there groups reunited in the coastal uplands where Arctic char and caribou are abundant. The Pre-Dorset then organized their lithic and organic toolkits in preparation for the journey to their winter camps in the outer coastal regions.

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