15 Harpoon Points Old Bering Sea Walrus Ivory c. 100-1900 AD 3-5” Long A collection of fifteen Old Bering Sea Harpoon Points collected over a period of thirty years beginning in the mid 1980's. These are pivoting Harpoon Points, and their invention by ancient hunters from the Old Bering Sea period was the culture's single most important technical advancement. It allowed the development of organized, predictable hunting for large sea mammals, such as seal, walrus and whales, establishing the foundation for a stable and flourishing culture. The pivot harpoon is an impressive piece of engineering, and its basic form and purpose is still in use today. It has a central hole and line guide, through which would have been strung a sturdy sinew cord, lashing the point to a series of composite elements, made of ivory and wood: socket handle, connecting pin, lance, and counterweight. With the exception of the wooden lance, all the elements would have been engraved, in a manner not unlike the example here, an expression of their perpetual re-use and high value. The leading, pointed edge of the harpoon pivot would typically be, as here, slotted, to receive a stone blade, which would be replaceable over time. In fact, some harpoon points have been found fitted with iron blades, demonstrating the belief that they continued to be used over numerous generations, well across time periods of technical advancements and the advent of new materials. Once struck into an animal’s hide, the harpoon point would lodge itself under the skin, and the tension of the cord connecting the harpoon components together would force the point to pivot 90 degrees, thus locking it in place sideways. The animal’s movements in attempting to free itself would drive the point more deeply into the skin, and ensure capture. The opposite end of the pivot point was also carved into a pointed, barbed pattern, sufficient to maximize its hold. It is a brilliantly unforgiving and thoroughly effective killing device. By connecting all the composite elements of the harpoon together with a cord, the hunter rarely lost any of the pieces, furthering the idea that each part was tantamount to longevity and, therefore, sacred. One harpoon might survive for generations, supporting the life of the whole village many times. They were highly prized and decorated accordingly.