Arctic small tool tradition

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The Arctic Small Tool tradition (ASTt) was a broad cultural entity that developed along the Alaska Peninsula, around Bristol Bay, and on the eastern shores of the Bering Strait around 2500 BC. ASTt groups were the first human occupants of Arctic Canada and Greenland. This was a terrestrial entity that had a highly distinctive toolkit based on microblade technology. Typically tool types include scrapers, burins and side and end blades used in composite arrows or spears made of other materials, such as bone or antler. Many researchers also assume that it was Arctic Small Tool populations who first introduced the bow and arrow to the Arctic. ASTt camps are often found along coasts and streams, to take advantage of seal or salmon populations. While some of the groups were fairly nomadic, more permanent, sod-roofed homes have also been identified from Arctic Small Tool tradition sites.

The Arctic Small Tool tradition includes a number of cultural groups, including the Denbigh Flint Complex in Alaska, the Pre-Dorset culture in Arctic Canada, Independence I culture in the High Arctic and Saqqaq culture in southern Greenland. The ASTt was followed by the Norton tradition in Alaska and the Dorset culture in Arctic Canada.


  • Fagan, Brian. Ancient North America. Thames & Hudson, London. 2005, p. 179-81.
  • Park, Robert. "The Arctic Small Tool tradition". Retrieved October 12, 2012.

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