Current Problems in Arctic Research

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 80th Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA (2015)

Given heightened coastal erosion, decreased permafrost levels and melting ice patches, arctic archaeologists are facing issues not previously experienced even a decade before. In addition, circumpolar communities are beginning to take ownership of their history and more collaborative relationships are emerging. This symposium will showcase current archaeological research across the Arctic, highlighting new questions that are arising as we struggle to stay ahead of changing climatic conditions and addressing old questions related to human resilience in the North.

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-16 of 16)

  • Documents (16)

  • Application of LIDAR in New Site Discoveries, Susitna Valley, Alaska (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Richard Martin. Kathryn E. Krasinski. Brian T. Wygal. Fran Seager-Boss.

    Geographic Information Systems (GIS) have long been a standard tool for mapping or depicting archaeological features and sites in the circumpolar north. Recently, remote sensing techniques including Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) have provided extremely high resolution datasets for landscape level survey and site detection from the GIS platform. Initial applications have proven useful for identifying temple complexes and other large scale archaeological sites in the Central American...

  • Birnirk Expansion across Alaska during the Medieval Climate Anomaly: Causal or Coincidence? (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Owen Mason. Claire Alix. Nancy Bigelow.

    Around AD 1000, from near Barrow, the Birnirk culture expanded southward across northwest Alaska, with settlements arising at Point Hope, Cape Krusenstern and Cape Espenberg. The motivation and successful adaptations of Birnirk were furthered by the stormy weather associated with upwelling and glacial expansion, correlative with tree ring, beach ridge and varve sequences across northern Alaska. New interdisciplinary data sets, archaeological and paleoecological, from Cape Espenberg elucidate...

  • Caribou Exploitation Dynamics and Antler Tool Production in Late Thule Occupation of the Kvichak River Drainage, SW Alaska (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only David Yesner. Michael Farrell. Daniel Monteith.

    Late Thule occupation of the Kvichak/Naknek River drainage systems has been attributed to northward migrating human populations deriving from the Kodiak archipelago region, assumed to be salmon fishers and sea mammal hunters displaced by human population growth at the end of the Medieval Climatic Optimum and beginning of the Little Ice Age (LIA). However, caribou hunting seems also to have played an important role in some areas, particularly at the intersection of appropriate habitat and...

  • Comparative Faunal Analysis of Four Early Thule House Features from Cape Espenberg, Alaska, and Inglefield Land, Greenland (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Jeremy Foin.

    The Thule expansion was the extremely swift colonization of the eastern Canadian Arctic and Greenland by Thule Inuit moving east out of Alaska ca. AD 1000-1300. The rapid pace of the migration implies that it may have taken these pioneering Thule groups some time to "settle in" to their new environment. Poor familiarity with local conditions should be reflected in the zooarchaeological record as highly uneven, low-diversity faunal assemblages, with a heavy bias toward small phocids in the...

  • Delivering on the Promise: Mobilizing Knowledge in the Ikaahuk Archaeology Project (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Lisa Hodgetts. Colleen Haukaas. Laura Kelvin.

    Partnerships between local communities and academics are becoming increasingly important in addressing a range of research questions in a warming Arctic. These approaches hold great promise for archaeology, but community participation in research demands that archaeologists rethink the aims and outcomes of our work. Here, we reflect on the ways in which our efforts to engage the Inuvialuit community of Sachs Harbour in our archaeological research project on Banks Island, NWT have shaped the...

  • Digging Deep or Just Scratching the Surface: Challenges and Successes with Labrador Inuit Archaeobotany (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Cynthia Zutter.

    Over past decade, I have assembled a reasonable variety of archaeobotanical data sets from 17th and 18th century Labrador Inuit sites, which includes both macro- (seeds, wood) and micro-botanicals (phytoliths and starches). The recovery and interpretation of these remains, however, has met with many challenges. I will discuss a number of these challenges along with the successes of this work and provide some guidelines to further archaeobotanical research and other work of this type in the...

  • Geological Hazards, Climate Change, and Human Resilience in the Islands of the Four Mountains of Alaska: Preliminary Archaeological Findings (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Virginia Hatfield. Kale Bruner. Dixie West.

    Archaeologists with the NSF-funded research project "Geological Hazards, Climate Change, and Human Resilience in the Islands of the Four Mountains" conducted their first season of fieldwork on Chuginadak and Carlisle Islands, Aleutian Islands, Alaska, in 2014. Preliminary results identified multiple component village sites. These include the Ulyagan site on Carlisle, with a Russian period and one or more prehistoric period occupation. Large, rectangular houses and metal artifacts represent the...

  • Iyatayet Revisited: Oh Giddings, what have you done? (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Andrew Tremayne. John Darwent. Christyann Darwent. Kelly Eldridge.

    This paper presents the results of our reinvestigation of Iyatayet, a multicomponent mid-late Holocene site located in northwest Alaska. Iyatayet is well known as the type site for both the Denbigh Flint Complex and the Norton Tradition in Alaska. Originally, excavated by J. L. Giddings from 1948-1952, this national historic landmark was retested in 2012 and 2013 to assess site condition, threats and disturbances, its current research potential, and to re-evaluate Giddings’ interpretations by...

  • Maritime Adaptations and Arctic Ceramic Technology: Results of Residue Analysis (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Shelby Anderson. Shannon Tushingham. Christopher Yarnes.

    Archaeologists have put forth various hypotheses to explain the adoption of pottery technology by hunter-gatherer groups. These include the efficiency of ceramics over other container technology, rising population pressure and related increased need for storage, and a change in food processing practices. Food processing shifts could include diet breadth expansion, particularly increased use of aquatic resources. The late adoption of pottery technology in the North American Arctic between 2500...

  • Nuvuk, Birnirk, Utqiaġvik, Walakpa and Beyond: All Those Sites Will Soon Be Gone (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Anne Jensen.

    These are all classic sites, but many of them were last excavated a half century or more ago. New questions and new methods require types of data that was not collected back then; additional excavation with finer provenience control is also needed. Such work has been undertaken at sites like Cape Espenberg, but only at the Nuvuk cemetery in North Alaska. The apparent assumption by those not working in the area has been that the sites were stable, and that there was no hurry. That is no longer...

  • Recent Discoveries in the Tanana Basin, Eastern Beringia (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Ben Potter.

    Recent developments in Western subarctic archaeology have transformed our perspectives on technological, subsistence, and land use strategies implemented during the Pleistocene - Holocene transition and into the later Holocene. This talk encompasses my intersite and intrasite investigations at Upward Sun River, Mead, and other sites in the middle Tanana River basin geared towards explanatory model construction and testing. Athabaskan ethnographic data provide robust frameworks to evaluate the...

  • Recent NLURA Research in Northern Alaska (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Richard Stern.

    Northern Land Use Research Alaska, LLC (NLURA) investigated 20 locations in northern Alaska during the last 5 years. Research included survey and excavation for oil and gas development projects, pipelines, roads, community infrastructure, mining, and transportation. This paper provides an overview of the work accomplished, highlighting significant discoveries made and contributions of CRM to our understanding of northern Alaska prehistory and history. SAA 2015 abstracts made available in tDAR...

  • Results of Section 106 Fieldwork at Three Archaeological Sites in Alaska: Producing Meaningful Research Results Under the Shadow of the Sequester (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Rita Miraglia.

    This paper presents results of recent Section 106 fieldwork undertaken by archaeologists with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Alaska Region, in 2013 and 2014. Results from work on sites along the Unalakleet River, the Agulokwak River, and Little Lake Louise in central, southwestern and southeastern Alaska, respectively, are presented. The problem of producing research that represents a contribution to the field of archaeology, within the constraints of agency mandates, the Section 106 process,...

  • Subsistence and Settlement at Cape Krusenstern, Alaska (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Adam Freeburg.

    A group of recently discovered features from Cape Krusenstern, Alaska have yielded radiocarbon ages within both the Western Thule and Kotzebue culture periods. Results of preliminary faunal analyses indicate the presence of fish bone in proportions higher than have been previously reported for other Cape Krusenstern settlements. This paper reviews and assesses the zooarchaeological data from these features and provides comparisons to known archaeological subsistence practices of the region....

  • Under Threat of Erosion: Late Prehistoric to Historic Contact Houses near the Native Village of Shaktoolik, Alaska (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Kelly Eldridge. John Darwent. Christyann Darwent.

    Historical documents note that the Shaktoolik Peninsula, located in Norton Sound, Alaska, was a nexus of interaction among local Yup’ik, Inupiat from the north, Athabaskans from the east, and Russian and American traders in the 1800s. Yup’ik populations were displaced from the area and replaced by Inupiaq groups during this time; however, limited archival, ethnographic and oral history accounts make it difficult to disentangle the local history. The archaeological record may be able to fill in...

  • Where’s the Cod?: Toward a Predictive Model of Prehistoric Land-use and Migration in the Aleutian Islands (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Kale Bruner. Hannah Owens.

    This study explores human/environment interactions in the Aleutian archipelago by pairing eco-niche modeling of cod (Gaddus sp.), a primary subsistence species, with prehistoric archaeological site distribution using a GIS platform. The distributions of site locations and cod habitat simulated using GARP software at multiple time slices through the Holocene show strong spatial and temporal correlation. Both site location and cod distribution are time transgressive with a pattern of westward...