Phebus and Drucker recovered over 7000 artifacts
from the Par-Tee site. This is the largest
artifact assemblage from the Oregon coast
and is over 10 times larger than the next
largest assemblage from this coast. The assemblage
is dominated by bone and antler tools that
are extremely well preserved due to their
burial with dense shell deposits, which act
to dampen the acidity of the local acidic
soils. The diverse nature of this assemblage
of tools is testimony to remarkable ancient
lifeways of Seaside’s earliest inhabitants.
Perhaps the most remarkable tools recovered
from the site are the remains of at least
23 whale bone atlatls or spear throwers.
These objects are used to throw a projectile
such as a dart or harpoon. Atlatls were
probably widely used along the Northwest
Coast at the time the Par-Tee site was occupied.
However, only one other bone and three wood
atlatls have been recovered from the Northwest
Coast archaeological sites. The relative
abundance of these items at Par-Tee remains
a mystery. Several of the Par-tee atlatls
are extremely small and were probably used
by children. During the ethnographic period,
small versions of tools used by adults were
given to children so they could gradually
learn to master them.
complete atlatl of spear thrower from Par-Tee.
of atlatl grips from Par-Tee. Smallest
specimens on bottom row likely made for
use by children.
Other hunting related tools recovered from
the site include several hundred single
piece harpoons heads that were likely used
for taking sea mammals like otters, seals,
and sea lions. Some barbed bone and antler
points were also possibly used for taking
birds, fish, and terrestrial mammals. About
90% of the harpoons were made from antler,
the remaining 10% being of bone. The entire
harpoon manufacturing process is discernable
through the modified bone and antler in
harpoons heads are believed to have been
used to hunt otters, seals and other sea
Multi-piece toggling harpoon points and
a wide array of chipped stone projectile
points were also found at the site. Toggling
harpoons similar to these were used during
the early ethnographic period for taking
salmon, seals and sea lions, sea otters,
and many other animals. Some projectile
points from the site have very narrow necks,
suggesting that the bow and arrow came into
use sometime during the occupation of the
village. Unfortunately, no bow fragments
have been identified in the assemblage.
Broad necked projectile points are also
present in abundance at the site and were
likely used to arm darts thrown with atlatls
toggling harpoon points (left). A variety
of types of projectile points were used
for hunting game at Par-Tee (right).
Another set of subsistence related items
recovered from the site are elk antler digging
stick handles. These items were fitted with
a sharpened wood stake about 1 m in length
and were used during the ethnographic period
by women to dig roots, clams, and other
items. Several of these items have incised
decorations near their ends. Some anthropologists
have suggested that the use of antler for
the construction of digging stick handles
is likely a sign of the presence of elite
women among Northwest Coast cultures. At
least one digging stick handle pictured
below was in the process of being manufactured
when it was left behind (third handle from
the top on left).
antler digging stick handles used to dig
for roots and clams. Some have incised designs
near their ends.
Extensive woodworking activity is represented
in the Par-Tee tool assemblage. The most
common woodworking tools are elk antler
wedges, likely used to split planks from
standing trees. These planks were used to
construct homes and other structures. Also
present are chisels and adzes made from
elk metapodials (lower leg bones), chisel
tips made from beaver teeth, and choppers
of basalt. The abundance of these items
is not surprising given the emphasis on
woodworking on the Northwest Coast during
the ethnographic period.
and antler handles for holding adze blades.
Such implements were used for woodworking.
Weaving or sewing of fibers is also evident
from the Par-Tee artifacts. The tool assemblage
includes many large needles made from the
shafts of bird wing bones. These items have
a sharp tip, a notch at the base for the
attachment of fibers, and are highly polished
from use. Also likely related to weaving
is a whale bone spindle whorl recovered
at the site. This item was mounted on a
wood spindle that was use for spinning fibers
into cordage. Weaving baskets, mats, and
cordage were extremely important tasks for
Oregon coast peoples who used perishable
materials for the bulk of their technology.
Bird wing bone needles believed to have
been used for weaving or sewing.
Possible whale bone spindle
whorl from Par-Tee
A number of items from the site also display
zoomorphic or anthropomorphic designs. At
least three items have possible face designs,
including one item of sandstone with a wide
‘smiling face’ design. Several
pendant-like items from the site have carefully
incised geometric designs and somel harpoons
are also decorated with similar designs.
The meanings behind these designs is unclear,
but some similarities to ethnographic items
are evident. Similarities can also be seen
in the embellished items recovered from
the Palmrose site, also excavated by Phebus
and Drucker (and report by Thomas Connolly).
Sandstone object with an embellished face-like
end. Opposite end of object is broken off.
Carved bone artifact with anthropomorphic/zoomorphic
face design. An arched Y design seems to
form a nose and brow with two raised circular
areas forming eyes.
Embellished harpoons from Par-Tee. The
majority of the embellished harpoons are
of bone, not antler.
full report on the Par-Tee site is in preparation.
Please contact Robert
Losey for questions regarding the Par-Tee