Archaeology of the Shaw Creek Catchment, Central Alaska.


Research begun in the 1990s focused within a small valley system, Shaw Creek Catchment (SCC), within the middle Tanana valley. Investigations show that long-term habitation and resource exploitation began about 14,200 cal.BP at Swan Point, the oldest site in Alaska. Both Swan Point and Mead date to the terminal Pleistocene. Together they constitute key sites for interior Alaska archaeology with their distinct multi-component records illustrating changes in environment, technology, fauna, and behavior throughout the Holocene. The 13,000-11,500 cal.BP period, with multiple radiocarbon dated hearths and associated fauna, is well-represented at SCC sites. Items of carved bone (personal adornment) occur at Mead. Large animals, e.g., elk and bison, were important; however, a broad based economy, consisting of smaller mammals, birds, and fish, is clearly evident in the inventory. The Northern Archaic, while less remarkable in artifact counts, hearth features, and fauna, is represented at most SCC sites. Obsidian, unavailable locally, is common to all time periods and found in nearly every site. Five obsidian sources (one unknown) chart the distant geographic regions where, diachronically, SCC inhabitants acquired this valued material, by travel or trade. In 2014, we began a multi-year program to identify new sites and better understand those already known.

SAA 2015 abstracts made available in tDAR courtesy of the Society for American Archaeology and Center for Digital Antiquity Collaborative Program to improve digital data in archaeology. If you are the author of this presentation you may upload your paper, poster, presentation, or associated data (up to 3 files/30MB) for free. Please visit for instructions and more information.

Cite this Record

Archaeology of the Shaw Creek Catchment, Central Alaska.. Charles Holmes, Ben Potter, Josh Reuther, Barbara Crass. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397455)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

min long: -169.717; min lat: 42.553 ; max long: -122.607; max lat: 71.301 ;