Macro-scale changes in technologies are part of theoretical frameworks and broad comparative approaches. At one extreme, there are studies of how technology changes over large areas or periods, and then there are much smaller scale studies of that variation and its significance at a local scale.1 Torrence (2001) points out the kinds of technologies and decisions available from studies of societies at different scales. She considers this question of scale and uses Oswalt’s (1976) food-getting technology system to explore how hunter-gatherers deal with the risks and potential consequences involved in problems in the food supply. A large part of this is a matter of achieving a balance between the input of energy to obtain food, and the resulting output of energy or available calories. The approach addresses how huntergatherers have minimized risk by the application of material culture solutions to catching prey. Sometimes these material solutions are used directly by people and at other times they need only untended facilities such as traps and snares. My contention here is that the same approach might be applicable to ways of thinking about the obtaining and storing of craft materials from plants and animals throughout the yearly cycle. Nearer the equator, there may be rainy seasons, which affect resource availability. If resources are obtainable throughout the year, there is little point in storing them, unless they are part of the chaîne opératoire of, for example, the drying of materials prior to working them. In contrast, in northern latitudes, the seasonality of some of the resources makes distinct phases of seasonal activity. The winters may be prime times for making things ready for intense food-getting activities in the summer. Both Oswalt and Torrence focus on food and explain the complexity and diversity of material culture related to obtaining food as instruments, weapons, and tended and untended facilities as ways of minimizing risk and optimizing food. What they do not consider is the parallel nature of the technology used to make

the food-getting material culture. Thus, the emphasis here is on shifting this perspective into thinking about the short productive seasons as an important craft way of exploiting the landscape throughout the entire year/yearly seasons. To summarize, Oswalt (1976: 64) defines instruments as those tools that can be

obtained in large numbers and with relatively little cost and risk to people. Examples might be digging sticks and some kinds of clubs. In contrast, weapons are implements such as spears, harpoons, bows and arrows and also on this definition items such as fish hooks, since they too directly catch a mobile prey by the delayed use of human energy. Facilities are described as tended versus untended. Tended facilities include hunting blinds and surrounds. Traps and snares are examples of untended facilities, where the presence of the person does not determine the success of the facility (and indeed, could well be detrimental). Oswalt’s definitions for items for obtaining food can be shifted into a parallel set for obtaining raw materials for manufacture, i.e. the procurement of craft materials from plants and animals. In this way, implements such as a digging stick for digging up roots that are potentially usable for cordage and for basketry purposes could be seen as instruments, whereas a well-made harvesting tool used for obtaining plant materials for mats, cordage and thatch could be seen as a weapon because it involves the direct application of energy to ‘capture’ the material from its natural environment. It has also involved energy in shaping the handle, obtaining the resin or pitch and using these as settings for interchangeable blades of stone to form an ergonomic and efficient harvesting tool. Just as cereal crops need to be harvested efficiently in an optimum period, so many craft resources have similar time constraints. The hunting equipment used to obtain animals could be seen as weapons both for food and also for the capture of craft materials from their carcasses. Facilities could include the storage, collection and processing of plant and animal materials. For example, in craft terms, pits for storing or for soaking materials prior to using them would be facilities, as would be rock caches covering antlers to make sure that other predators did not gnaw them. Retting pits may not need to be tended all the time but they are systems that need to be maintained and also watched perhaps one or two times a day if the weather is warm. These are not without risk: in some cases, material left retting in a slowmoving river maybe at risk if there are flash floods. Thus, the energy systems that Oswalt is keen to see lying behind some of these technological systems for foodgetting can be thought through in relation to procuring craft materials. Given this, we might expect that, as with the analysis of food-getting technologies and the associated stone tool systems that ameliorate risk, so too the material culture items and the raw materials for crafts would involve more inherent risks in higher latitudes where resources are not uniformly available throughout the year. In the same way, Torrence’s (2001) discussion of storage as a way of ameliorating risk for food resources also applies to the raw materials for crafts and the production of material culture. Thus drying racks for preserving meat can also be used to dry the raw materials for basketry production or for hide-working prior to storage and use at some later date. Both plants and animal skins usually require drying in order to make sure that mould and other organisms will not compromise the quality of the

material to be stored. These sorts of issues are broad scale comparative problems that are, at the moment, very rarely considered within material culture studies. In most cases, study of the material culture is dominated by stone, pottery or metal objects, but these form merely an impoverished subsection of what was once available. Where evidence of organic material culture does survive, its study often pales alongside the studies of stone and metal artefacts. The role of variation, form, design, and the social codes of material culture are com-

posite issues for all material culture, but are largely considered (if at all) through only stone tools and pottery. Torrence’s overview of how archaeologists have used stone tools to explore relationships between genders and social roles in the production of tools and technologies does consider the social aspects. As she explains, some aspects of the technological systems for food-getting are not straightforward choices on pragmatic criteria alone, but can reflect symbolism and social meaning (Torrence 2001: 91-93). Different food-getting activities of male and female groups within a community could also translate into different aspects of material culture production. In the Ingalik example discussed later in this chapter there are indeed relationships that strongly associate gender issues of user and maker, but also ones that crosscut these. However, these are generally attributable to differing physical abilities or to the location of activities in the landscape that are associated with the gender that is extracting and exploiting them in that place. In these ways, the male and female food-getting technologies may also relate to the male and female craft ways and taskscapes. To put this at its simplest, if men are doing larger-scale hunting and women are doing more of the collecting of plant resources, it is highly likely that women will also be collecting plant materials for crafts while men may be working bone and antler. If fish trap and weirs are important tended and untended facilities, the withies and wood to make them need to be cut and split or worked further in the right season. The craft that makes the facility also needs its own procurement and manufacturing strategies. Where large-scale tended facilities such as hunting blinds are used and if large numbers of a large species are killed at one time, there is a considerable amount of food processing to undertake and these groups are likely to be larger and of mixed gender. To give an obvious example, if a herd animal such as buffalo is subjected to a large-scale kill, it is not just the meat that needs to be cut up and dried or dealt with so that it can be safely stored and transported. If the hides are to be used, they too will have to be processed in an initial phase by perhaps cleaning them at the kill site, or drying them before taking them to another site for cleaning. Associations with animals where men are doing most of the risky or long-range hunting tasks is a strongly gendered activity that may carry through into the associated craft activities from those remains. These are not concrete assertions, but they are considerations that would enrich archaeological debates arising from the evidence that survives from prehistory.