Using Computer Modelling and Virtual Reality to Explore the Ideological Dimensions of Thule Whalebone Architecture in Arctic Canada

Peter C. Dawson¹ and Richard Levy²

¹ Department of Archaeology, University of Calgary, 2500 University Drive NW, Calgary, Alberta, T2N 1N4.
² Faculty of Environmental Design, University of Calgary, 2500 University Drive NW, Calgary, Alberta, T2N 1N4.
Peter C.Dawson pcdawson@ucalgary.ca, Richard Levy rmlevy@ucalgary.ca

Cite this as: P.C. Dawson and R. Levy 2005 'Using Computer Modelling and Virtual Reality to Explore the Ideological Dimensions of Thule Whalebone Architecture in Arctic Canada', Internet Archaeology 18. http://dx.doi.org/10.11141/ia.18.1

Summary

Arctic archaeologists have long suspected that the whalebones used to construct semi-subterranean winter houses by Thule culture peoples were symbolically resonant. These assumptions are based on observations of the non-utilitarian use of jaw bones and crania in Thule house ruins, and ethnographic descriptions of architectural symbolism relating to the whale hunt in Historic Alaskan Inupiat houses. In this paper, we use a 3-dimensional computer reconstruction of a semi-subterranean whalebone house to search for visual expressions of whaling-related ritual in Thule architecture. Results suggest that the whalebone superstructure may have been designed to evoke important themes when viewed from specific locations within the house, and under different lighting conditions. These themes, which appear in Inupiat myths and stories, involve the belief that women transform houses into living whales during the time of the hunt.

Go to article Table of Contents

Features


 NEXT   CONTENTS   HOME 

© Internet Archaeology/Author(s)
University of York legal statements | Terms and Conditions | File last updated: Mon Sep 19 2005