Diving into Environmental Change: Underwater Archaeology of a Holocene Refugium in the Great Lakes

Author(s): Ashley Lemke; John O'Shea

Year: 2016


While many paleoenvironmental methods have achieved extraordinary resolution, regional reconstructions based on these methods are rarely as accurate or as refined as often assumed. Data points are typically few and far between, and are interpolated over a heterogeneous landscape; concealing significant variability. These problems are particularly acute in the Great Lakes region, where fluctuating lake levels and environmental changes during the early Holocene were diverse and punctuated. Recent underwater research on the Alpena-Amberley Ridge (AAR), a submerged land bridge cutting across Lake Huron which was dry land 9000 years ago, is providing a picture of contemporary variability in paleoenvironments within the Great Lakes. Results indicate that the AAR was a refugium for Pleistocene adapted plants and animals and was vastly different from surrounding mainland. This refugium provided a unique niche for hunter-gatherer exploitation; evidenced by caribou hunting structures and lithic artifacts. The preservation offered underwater has aided chronology building, environmental reconstruction, and archaeological research for a time period poorly known on land. The results emphasize the need to consider the heterogeneous character of local conditions when building regional environmental models. Research on the AAR therefore provides valuable insights into the nature of human adaptability to fluctuating and unique environments.

Cite this Record

Diving into Environmental Change: Underwater Archaeology of a Holocene Refugium in the Great Lakes. Ashley Lemke, John O'Shea. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 403572)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -104.634; min lat: 36.739 ; max long: -80.64; max lat: 49.153 ;