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Shaping identities through physical and cognitive landscape modifications in the Rat Islands, AK

Author(s): Nancy Bigelow ; Debra Corbett ; Bobbi Hornbeck ; Brian Hoffman ; Caroline Funk

Year: 2015

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Summary

Low mound groupings were defined during the multidisciplinary Rat Islands Research Project during the summer of 2014. These mounds are clustered in at least three areas on Kiska Island and Segula Island. Traditionally interpreted as "bird mounds" by non-Aleuts, these mounds were thought to be places where birds habitually sat over millennia. The hypothesis has been that subsequently enriched soils fostered exaggerated vegetation growth relative to the surrounding landscape. While various bird populations do in fact make use of these mounds, the test excavation of Mound 14 in KIS-051 produced lithic evidence supporting the notion that these mounds are human modifications of the landscape. Prehistoric Aleut populations had a complex notion of identity. One hypothesis for these mounds is that they represent a dynamic relationship between prehistoric Aleut group identity and the physical landscape. Geographic information systems have provided an avenue for a deeper understanding of the complexities behind Aleut social constructs on the physical landscape through spatial analysis.

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Shaping identities through physical and cognitive landscape modifications in the Rat Islands, AK. Bobbi Hornbeck, Caroline Funk, Brian Hoffman, Debra Corbett, Nancy Bigelow. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397919)


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Spatial Coverage

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

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America