Yukon archeologist Greg Hare says it was just luck that led him in 2016 to find a nearly 1,000-year-old hunting artifact, half exposed in a remote patch of ice.
Recent radiocarbon dating confirms that the arrow blade point is one of the earliest examples of copper metallurgy ever found in Yukon.
Hare was travelling with a documentary film crew over the ice patches near Carcross, Yukon, in July 2016 when they spotted some caribou on a hillside. Hare had been showing the crew some of sites where he and other archaeologists have been finding ancient First Nations hunting weapons over the last 20 years.
They were flying in two helicopters, and Hare’s helicopter decided to land to get out of the film crew’s shot. While waiting on the ice patch, Hare and his team spotted an antler arrow point half buried in the ice. It looked like it had just been fired from a bow.
They pulled it out and discovered a copper end blade attached.
“It was so fortuitous that those caribou were on that patch, that the television crew wanted to film that, that we landed at this little scruffy patch,” said Hare.
“We would have never have stopped there any other time because that ice patch melted right away.”
In fact, Hare said he went back a few weeks later to look for more artifacts and says the ice patch had completely melted leaving nothing but some semi-frozen caribou dung.
Early bow and arrow technology
The arrow point end blade proved to be quite a find, though.
“This is one of the oldest copper elements that we ever found in the Yukon,” Hare said.
For thousands of years, caribou took refuge in the summer up high on the alpine ice patches to escape the heat and swarms of harassing insects. That made those ice patches good areas for…