Chimneyless Houses

central hearth

“Early shelters were built of availale materials. Hides spread over poles or the bones and tusks of mammoths formed a type widely used. Stone and clay were common early building materials. Usually there was only a single room, with the fire located at the center of the living area. In many parts of the world this pattern changed little from the earlies times right up to the present. Smoke escaped from such dwellings as it could, through the low door or a smoke hole in the roof… The Scots developed a special word, snighe, for rain that worked its way through the roof sods and dripped down black with soot upon the people below.” [Read more…]

Making a Dugout Canoe Using Stone Tools and Fire

Making a Dugout Canoe Using Stone Tools and Fire

“The Dugout Canoe Project (.pdf) began as an experiment to use traditional Native American technologies. Archaeologists are reliant on just a few ethnohistoric sources that mention how Native Americans made dugout canoes using stone tools and fire. Numerous contemporary examples of dugouts exist, particularly Plimouth Plantation’s Wampanoag Indian Program, made by burning and scraping out logs. However, to the best of our knowledge, no one has attempted to fell a tree using only stone tools and fire. We wanted to see if we could cut down a live tree using these technologies, something that may not have been done in this area for several hundred years.”

“Dugout canoes are probably the first type of boat ever made. People from all over the world made dugouts. They were widely used in North America before the arrival of Europeans. Dugout canoes were made by Native Americans across North and South America for transportation and to hunt fish with a spear, bow and arrows, or with hooks made from antler or bones. In Eastern North America, dugout canoes were typically made from a single log of chestnut or pine. Carefully controlled fires were used to hollow out these logs. The fires were extinguished at intervals to scrape out the burned wood with wood, shell or stone tools, giving the canoes a flat bottom with straight sides.”

Courtesy of the Fruitlands Museum. More posts on primitive technology.