Prehistorically, aboriginals cooked meat and had a warm ’soup’ without the use of permanent vessels.  A recently fleshed hide was supported in a rock box and filled with water.  Since fires were always present in prehistoric camps, the heated rocks were added to the water and very quickly the ’soup’ was prepared.  Classes without fleshed hides can use a plastic pail to repeat this activity and grasp the concept.
Prehistorically, aboriginals cooked meat and had a warm ’soup’ without the use of permanent vessels.  A recently fleshed hide was supported in a rock box and filled with water.  Since fires were always present in prehistoric camps, the heated rocks were added to the water and very quickly the ’soup’ was prepared.  Classes without fleshed hides can use a plastic pail to repeat this activity and grasp the concept.

© 2008, Najuqsivik Community Museum. All Rights Reserved.

Flat vertical stones are set in the ground creating a container for the skin.

A stone box is created by securing rocks vertically in the ground. The sides support the heavy sealskin which is placed in the container.

John Jamieson
Cindy Goodyear

© 2008 Najuqsivik Community Museum. All Rights Reserved.


A measured amount of water is added to the depression.

The depression will hold a measured amount of water. In this case 3 litres of water was added. The temperature of the water is determined.

John Jamieson
Cindy Goodyear

© 2008 Najuqsivik Community Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Rocks are added to a fire

Rocks are placed directly on hot coals of an established fire.

John Jamieson
Cindy Goodyear

© 2008 Najuqsivik Community Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Add rocks and record temperature.

As the rocks are added the temperature is recorded at 30 second intervals.

John Jamieson
Cindy Goodyear

© 2008 Najuqsivik Community Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Steam is a surprise.

It is surprising for many students to see a cloud of steam arise from the 'Inuit Soup'. If the students put their finger in the soup they receive a second surprise. Due to the amount of carbon transferred from the rocks, it is advised not to actually add meat for eating. Meat attached to the sealskin is well cooked.

John Jamieson
Cindy Goodyear

© 2008 Najuqsivik Community Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Remove and weigh the rocks

After the temperature has reached a maximum, remove the rocks and weigh them in the lab.

John Jamieson
Cindy Goodyear

© 2008 Najuqsivik Community Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Time (minutes) Temperature (Celsius)
0        15
.5       15
1.0     22
1.5     35
2.0     55
2.5     70
3.0     75
3.5     81
4.0     84

Weight of rocks = 4.3 kg
Time (minutes) Temperature (Celsius)
0        15
.5       15
1.0     22
1.5     35
2.0     55
2.5     70
3.0     75
3.5     81
4.0     84

Weight of rocks = 4.3 kg
In this experiment all the rocks were smooth and spherical.
© 2008 Najuqsivik Community Museum. All Rights Reserved.

Learning Objectives

The student will: 1) duplicate a prehistoric activity, 2) establish a graph of temperature vs time for heating water in an animal skin, 3) appreciate a unique way to cook food with few tools. 4) discuss energy transfer from fire to rocks to water 5) measure quantity of water, weight of rocks

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