Arisaig

In this video, Gerald Gloade explains how some of the stone used for Mi’kmaw tools is formed, and shares an example of these stones that comes from Arisaig
Tracadie Harbour projectile point bases made from maroon rhyolite found at Arisaig. From the collections of the Nova Scotia Museum, Archaeology Collections, Halifax, NS.

Tracadie Harbour projectile point bases made from maroon rhyolite found at Arisaig. From the collections of the Nova Scotia Museum, Archaeology Collections, Halifax, NS.

This image shows a vein of quartz and other fine-grained quartz-based material encased in basalt. Basalt is the primary material from which these toolstones are emerging (or “growing”) over a very long period to time.

This image shows a vein of quartz and other fine-grained quartz-based material encased in basalt. Basalt is the primary material from which these toolstones are emerging (or “growing”) over a very long period to time.

Outcrops of volcanic rocks including basalts and rhyolites are found along the coast at Arisaig, in northern Nova Scotia. Archaeological evidence shows that our ancestors used a maroon rhyolite from this area to make tools, which shows up at ancestral sites all across Nova Scotia.

Along with this rhyolite, it is likely people also used the quartz and other silica-rich materials found at Arisaig. As the once molten basalt cooled, other minerals trapped in the basalt collected in veins and were fused into an almost glass-like structure (like the translucent fine-grained material shown here). Like maroon rhyolite, this silica-rich material can be flaked into sharp edges and fine points.

With the arrival of European ships some 600 years ago, a new mineral appeared on these beaches. European flint was stored in ships as ballast, and then dumped upon their arrival here. Also an excellent tool material, European flint was used by the Mi’kmaq to make arrowheads as recently as 200 years ago.

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