Thule Response to Climate Change at Cape Espenberg, Alaska, CE 1500-1700

Author(s): Laura Crawford

Year: 2015


Food plant remains and wood charcoal provide insight into how prehistoric Arctic peoples may have adapted to climate change. This study addresses Thule plant and fuel use at Cape Espenberg, Alaska from CE 1500-1700. Plant macrofossil and charcoal remains were sampled from occupation layers of three Thule semi-subterranean houses. Macrofossil and charcoal counts were analyzed using ANOVA, T-test, and Tukey Post-Hoc tests. Results indicate that plant foods contributed vitamins and fiber to Thule’s primarily meat diet. Wood was an important fuel, but was supplemented by bone and blubber. Conservation of woody fuel may reflect a decline in local driftwood availability due to climate change. These results underscore the importance of plants as food and fuel to prehistoric Arctic peoples, and demonstrate how these variables can be interpreted as proxies for climate change. Furthermore, these data suggest how modern Inupiat subsistence strategies may change in a warming Arctic.

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Thule Response to Climate Change at Cape Espenberg, Alaska, CE 1500-1700. Laura Crawford. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397784)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -178.41; min lat: 62.104 ; max long: 178.77; max lat: 83.52 ;