Author(s): Andrew Tremayne; William Brown

Year: 2017


Population growth has long been argued to play a critical role in promoting cultural evolution, operating both through adaptation to population pressure and increasing social network size and transmission frequency. We present a model of mid-late Holocene Alaskan population size based on a temporal frequency analysis of 902 site occupation episodes dating between 6000 and 1000 radiocarbon years BP, with two objectives: (1) identify factors that influenced Alaskan population dynamics over this interval, and (2) bring these to bear on our understanding of the cultural transition from the Arctic Small tool tradition (ASTt) to the Norton tradition. To evaluate the influence of environmental factors and population size on future population growth and cultural change, we regress growth rates derived from our population model on (1) GISP2 temperature data; (2) the 3600 cal BP Aniakchak eruption; and (3) the population model itself. Paradoxically, the ASTt-Norton transition, which apparently increased cultural complexity, transpired during a sustained low-population interval driven by the eruption and extreme temperatures. We tentatively resolve this paradox by suggesting that severe subsistence stress entailed by these environmental factors encouraged late ASTt communities to shift focus from terrestrial to marine resources, promoting technological innovations to better exploit the marine habitat.

Cite this Record

MID-LATE HOLOCENE POPULATION TRENDS AND MARITIME RESOURCE INTENSIFICATION IN WESTERN ALASKA. Andrew Tremayne, William Brown. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429111)

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Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16109