The archaeology of dogs at the precontact Yup’ik site of Nunalleq, Western Alaska


Historically and ethnographically dogs have played a prominent role in the lifeways and lifeworlds of many Arctic and sub-Arctic peoples, and are considered to be a vital aspect of adaptation to living in these regions, providing protection, fur and meat, as well as aiding hunting and transportation. Excavations at the precontact site of Nunalleq in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta in coastal Western Alaska have uncovered a significant proportion of dog bones amongst the faunal assemblage. The presence of discontinuous permafrost at the site has resulted in the excellent preservation, not only of bone, but also of dog fur and even dog lice in deposits at the site, along with vast organic and inorganic material culture assemblages. Here we present a multi-stranded, cross-disciplinary study of the archaeology of dogs at Nunalleq. By incorporating the bioarchaeological analysis of dog remains (osteology, morphology, aDNA, isotopes) with the study of material culture, soils and other bodies of evidence, and the ethno-historic record, we go ‘beyond domestication’, providing insight into this vital component of precontact animal-human relationships in Western Alaska and the varied roles, and significance, of Arctic North America’s only precontact domesticate.

Cite this Record

The archaeology of dogs at the precontact Yup’ik site of Nunalleq, Western Alaska. Kate Britton, Edouard Masson-Maclean, Ellen McManus-Fry, Claire Houmard, Carly Ameen. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431004)


Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 15335