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davehunt

Help identify mystery bone on native bag

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davehunt

Hello forum,

 

I  hope this is OK to post here.

 

I haven't been on the forum much for the last couple years, since I started graduate studies in archaeology, but I have a mystery I think the FF is uniquely qualified to solve.

 

At the Burke Museum at the University of Washington (Seattle, USA), in the collections is a Yup'ik pouch that is covered with a very small bone (4mm x 1-2mm) used as a form of decoration. The bag originates from SW Alaska. The elements appear to be bones, but maybe shells or teeth. Some extremely knowledgeable individuals have been stumped by this so we're trying a little crowdsourcing. Any help or suggestions would be appreciated.

 

I've attached one photo of the elements, but there are a bunch here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/yJdKozUxGd2uNmar1

 

Thanks for your help!

Dave

 

bag.jpg

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Fossildude19

They look more like shell pieces, to me.  :unsure: 

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jpc

Have you talked to Greg Wilson at U Wash?  

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Tidgy's Dad

Shell for me as well, can't see any bone structure there.

Good luck with your studies. :)

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WhodamanHD

+1 for shell

if it were bone it would have structure and if it were ivory it would have shrieger lines. If it were tusk I believe there would be lines as well. 

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KimTexan

What age is the pouch believed to be? I am sure the name of the people group says it all, but I know nothing about the Native Americans from that region.

If it is quite old have any isotope or other studies been done on the items in question?

You could narrow down the type of shellfish it was by the presence of the ridges on the shells. Do any of the pieces appear to have mother of pearl iridescence to them?  I don't see it on these pieces. Another means of narrowing it down would be the presence or lack of nacre. I think if they don't have nacre they are considered to be porcellaneous. Most shellfish are porcellaneou though so if they are not nacreous it does not narrow the options down much.

I would think that if these were shells used for decoration they may have also been used as a food source and therefore you might find whole shells or fragments and be able to narrow it down that way.

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abyssunder

There seems to be borings on the specimens you posted in the picture, especially the double-holes are interesting. Unfortunately there's no scale attached. Also the marks visible in the picture below seems to have borings. Can we have better looks of them with a comparative scale ?

 

IMG_9540.thumb.jpg.1e55451ebca9a01bcbf9e12936f5b699.jpg

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davehunt

I don't think they are borings, maybe porous material. I mention in the original post they are 4mm wide.  Any holes you see I think are too small to be man-made (given the time period).

 

D

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