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Gendered Differences in the Consumption and Discard of Food in Arctic Alaska

Author(s): Christyann Darwent ; Jeremy Foin

Year: 2017

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Cape Espenberg, Alaska, provides a unique opportunity to directly compare two Thule-period (ca. AD 1400-1450) houses built at virtually the same time on the same beach ridge only one meter apart. The tunnels of these houses are identically built; however, their interior construction, use of space, and artifact types and manufacturing debris strongly suggest that one house was a traditional domestic structure and the other was a men’s house. Ringed seal, the dietary staple across the Arctic, dominates the domestic house (90%), but not the men’s house (50%). Rather the men’s house is comprised of 30% fish remains (primarily small, saffron cod), which make up less than 1% of the fauna recovered from the domestic house. In addition, there is a distinct pattern of discard in the men’s house, with all fish recovered from the tunnel. In Arctic cultures, women are responsible for the distribution of food, even in a men’s house. However, our understanding of this men’s sphere is poorly known outside the ethnographic record. This analysis is provides the first detailed study of a men’s house using zooarchaeology as a proxy for gendered use of space.

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Gendered Differences in the Consumption and Discard of Food in Arctic Alaska. Christyann Darwent, Jeremy Foin. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429221)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16719

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