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Old 25th June 2011, 01:32 AM   #31
fearn
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Thanks Jim,

Personally, I suspect that they learned the technology of ironworking after contact, since making charcoal and tempering with oil and water sounds quite colonial/European.

As for where they got their first iron bits, that coast was explored from the 16th Century on (see Drake, for example), so it's unclear when the metal was originally transferred.

Best,

F
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Old 25th June 2011, 02:37 AM   #32
Jim McDougall
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Hi Fearn,
It does seem like these processes are more connected to European technological procedures , but it also seems strange that we are considering post-contact in such a modern time. While these tribes were indeed remote and in regions sparsely populated even this late in the 18th century, it would be hard to believe that some contact exposing them to these details in ironworking did not occur incidentally at times before the arrival of traders.
The fact that these pieces of ships carrying bits of iron were close enough to leave wreckage drifting to shore suggests that earlier contact may have been possible. There was some exploration earlier of course, so some of the material indeed could have been found in remains in limited case.

While considering that such piecemeal acquisition of iron supply to work into these items seems stretching things, these weapons and tools were being made for personal use, not export, so even limited volume of the material would support the equally limited production.

The thing for sure is that these Tlingit artisans crafted daggers that are quality and elegant craftsmanship to be admired, and it is fascinating that they were able to master the working of these metals in such a relatively short time frame.

All the best,
Jim
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