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Exploring the Differences in Radiocarbon Ages of Seals and Caribou: A Case Study from Kotzebue Sound

Author(s): Scott Shirar ; Joshua D. Reuther ; Joan B. Coltrain ; Owen K. Mason ; Shelby L. Anderson

Year: 2016

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J. Louis Giddings’ pioneering work in chronology building in Northwest Alaska laid the groundwork for this case study, where we explore differences between the radiocarbon ages of seals and caribou from Late Holocene archaeological sites in the Kotzebue Sound region. Samples were recovered from distinct cultural features like house floors and cache pits which date between 130 and 1600 BP, including two samples from a house excavated by Giddings in Kotzebue in 1941. Our comparisons of radiocarbon dates on caribou and seal bones show average differences in ages between 750-890 years. Our comparisons of charcoal/wood and seal radiocarbon ages also indicate offsets of 750-915 years between these two materials. These offset results on prehistoric samples are also in accordance with radiocarbon ages measured on historic seals living and collected in the 1930s that are estimated to date between 830 and 860 B.P. Further, we examine differences among local reservoirs through time and to the global marine reservoir estimates. We also point out contributions of significant collaborators to the project: Adam Freeburg, National Park Service, and Pete Bowers, NLURA.

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Exploring the Differences in Radiocarbon Ages of Seals and Caribou: A Case Study from Kotzebue Sound. Scott Shirar, Joshua D. Reuther, Joan B. Coltrain, Owen K. Mason, Shelby L. Anderson. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 403996)


Spatial Coverage

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

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