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Archaeology of North America The Far North. The Far North Introduction  At the time of contact arctic peoples were spread across the north  A number.

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Presentation on theme: "Archaeology of North America The Far North. The Far North Introduction  At the time of contact arctic peoples were spread across the north  A number."— Presentation transcript:

1 Archaeology of North America The Far North

2 The Far North Introduction  At the time of contact arctic peoples were spread across the north  A number of linguistic groups are present  They practiced a highly varied hunter- gather economy in a land of great diversity Sea mammals, fish, caribou, musk ox and other animals were hunted A variety of vegetal remains were gathered  When maritime hunting began is debated Older sites are submerged and affected by isostatic rebound

3 The Far North The Arctic Environment  Beringia is open for much of the glaciation  Several mountain ranges are found throughout the north  Vast, broken lowlands are often found between these ranges, esp. in Alaska The interior of Alaska was unglaciated East of the Yukon River was glaciated by the Laurentide ice sheet East of the Hudson Bay is a rocky glaciated plateau of the Canadian Shield Greenland is mostly glaciated except the coast

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5 The Far North The Arctic Environment  The northern climate is harsh, with cold, long, dark winters and brief summers  Permafrost is close to the surface resulting in many bogs and swamps  In fact winter is better for people than the summer  The boarder between the Arctic and Sub- Arctic is marked by a transitional tree line Tundra (vegetation is sparse, with mosses, lichens and the occasional dwarfed tree) Taiga (boreal forest, dense spruce, hemlock and pine forests that are impenetrable in most places)

6 Tundra interior Tundra coast

7 Taiga forest

8 The Far North The Arctic Animals  Only a few species of terrestrial mammals live in the arctic Caribou (most common), musk ox, lemmings, arctic fox, wolves, bears and a variety of birds including waterfowl (ducks, geese, swans and other sea birds)  Sea mammals and fish are hunted along the coasts Char, salmon, whitefish, whales, seals, otters and walrus

9 The Far North The Sub Arctic Animals  There are more land animals in the sub arctic Woodland caribou, moose and waterfowl are the most common to hunt, but beaver and mink were important for their pelts during European contact  Warmer waters attract sea animals as well Shrimps, seawater plankton and other small marine animals attract the dolphins and whales in the summer

10 The Far North The Paleo-Arctic Tradition c BC  Connection between Siberia and NA D’uktai and Alaskan sites Microblade technology  9000 BC Beringia is broken  After 8000 BC a greater diversity of h&g flourished in Alaska and are referred to as the Paleo-Arctic Tradition  For more than 4000 years these groups were spread over northwestern NA  Unfortunately there are very few sites Most are isolated scatters in the interior A question of submerged sites

11 The Far North The Paleo-Arctic Tradition c BC  Lithics of this period are marked by Microblades, small wedge-shaped cores (the most distinctive artefact), some leaf-shaped bifaces, scrapers and graving tools These cores show economization Found as early as 8000 BC on the Alaskan coast, 5000 BC on the Queen Charlottes and continue to 2000 BC There is great variation in the tool found

12 The Far North The Paleo-Arctic Tradition c BC  The site of Anangula on the Aleutian chain was occupied for a long period of time It is on a bluff Dates range from BC Tools are made from microblades of various sizes Evidence of elliptically shaped, semi-subterranean houses (entered from the roof?) Accessible by boat only suggesting reliance of fish and sea mammals but there is no direct archaeological evidence for this

13 The Far North The Pacific coast 5000 BC – AD 1000  An increasing emphasis on coastal adaptation likely began c BC  By 3000 BC this way of life was common along the Aleutian chain and Kodiak Island  Climate is milder here and sea mammals abundant  Then environment is fairly consistent  By 3000 BC three cultural groups occupy this area Question of when and why the Aleutians diverge from the Eskimoan stock of the mainland

14 The Far North The Pacific coast 5000 BC – AD 1000  Kodiak Island Over 7000 years of occupation Ocean Bay tradition flourished from BC on marine mammal hunting  They used thrusting spears with large stone blades likely coated with aconite poison from Monkshood Kachemak Tradition developed c BC and lasted to AD 1000  Hunted sea mammals, salmon and caribou  Worked slate into knifes (Ulu)  Used bone artefacts (projectile points)  From AD the artefacts are more elaborate

15 The Far North The Pacific coast 5000 BC – AD 1000  From AD the artefacts are more elaborate (fishing net weights, stone lamps with human and animals figurines cared in them)  Large middens suggest a population increase  Practiced mortuary rituals (buried the dead intact or took parts for trophies) After AD 1000 the Kachemak evolved into the historical Eskimo-speaking Koniag culture, which is heavily influenced by surrounding cultures

16 Ulu dating to the Norton Stage 500 BC (10 cm) Left: Ocean Bay tradition projectile point Right: Kachemak tradition slate projectile point

17 Oval stone lamp with a human figure inside, Kachamak Tradition

18 The Far North The Aleutian Tradition c BC–AD 1800  This tradition is widespread on the Aleutian Islands  The earliest site on the islands is Anangula dating to 6000 BC but… Does this site represent ancestral Aleutian occupation on the islands? Or Is there a mixing of the local groups with Eskimoid influences to create a more recent Aleut culture? Or Did the Anangula people die out to be replace by a second occupation c BC?  The last theory is called the Dual Tradition Model

19 The Far North The Aleutian Tradition c BC–AD 1800  At present there is no evidence for a cultural continuum on the islands  After 2500 BC the Aleutian Tradition is seen which differs from the early Paleo- Arctic sites – Dual Model is suggested Aleutian sites have no microblade cores or gravers They do have knapped lithic artefacts, rather than slate ones, bifacially trimmed projectile points and knives, elaborate bone tools Tools are very variable between sites

20 Bone artefacts from the Aleutian tradition

21 The Far North The Aleutian Tradition c BC–AD 1800  They hunted sea mammals and fish (cod and halibut)  The houses were elliptical to rectangular and dug about 0.5 m into the ground They are roofed with driftwood and sod and likely entered through the roof  The Chaluka site was occupied on and off for thousands of years (2000 BC-AD 1000) Semi-subterranean dwellings lined with stone slabs, whale bones and fire pits  Aleutian tradition lasted into historic times

22 The Far North Arctic Small Tool Tradition c BC  In the Paleo-Arctic times small groups settled along the Alaskan Peninsula and to the south and east  By 2500 BC a new, highly distinctive tool tradition appears here called the Arctic Small Tool Tradition Small blades and bladelets pointed at both ends, used as end or side barbs in antler or bone projectile points Scrapers, gravers, burins, and adzed blades with polished working edges Few organic artefacts have been found

23 Arctic Small Tool tradition artefacts Top: Microblade and burin Bottom: Projectile point and side blade

24 The Far North Arctic Small Tool Tradition c BC  The origins of this tradition are unclear Some suggest that they come form a reindeer and fishing culture across the straight as they have the same tools This implies that they arrived in boats during the summer months Also suggested that they introduced the bow and arrow, as this weapon is effective in hunting large terrestrial animals, but how far this technology spread is unclear  Only by AD 700 was it well established

25 The Far North Arctic Small Tool Tradition c BC  Sites are found from the Brooks Range to the Alaskan Peninsula and Kachemak Bay On the peninsula sites are along salmon streams On the coast they may have hunted sea mammals In Kachemak Bay some permanent, square (4 m), semi- subterranean with a sloped entrance, a central hearth and sod-roofed structures were excavated  Most sites however are only small isolated lithic scatters (connected to hunting camps)

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27 The Far North The Eastern Arctic c – 500 BC  The first settlements of the eastern arctic date to c BC  This is about the same time as the appearance of the Small Tool Tradition of the west  Sites are found along the shores of the Arctic Ocean, among the Canadian Archipelago islands and into western Greenland  Why the movement into this region is a mystery

28 The Far North The Eastern Arctic c BC  Once the sites appear in the region two variants in tool forms from the ASTT appear The Independence in the High Arctic The Pre-Dorset in the Low Arctic  This difference may be the result of 2 early migrations The first to the north (Independence) The second, a different group that went further south (Pre-Dorset)  Or there may have been only one migration of the Independence and out of this group the Pre-Dorset emerge  Or it is an environmental adaptation?

29 The Far North The Independence I Stage BC  Tools are similar to the ASTT but are slightly larger Bone needles, projectile points, harpoon heads with drilled holes for the line and burins were common  Sites on the NE coast of Greenland are marked with stone circles As many as 20 at one site but most are single Tents were likely made out of musk ox hides There are storage places made out of flagstones A central hearth is common  Likely a highly mobile group relying on the musk ox that needed to be well prepared for winter

30 The Far North The Pre-Dorset BC  These sites are located in the southern part of the Eastern Arctic and are linked with the ASTT Early sites are located near Baffin Island and northern Labrador  This area has a diverse animal population Caribou, musk ox, polar bear and other small animals were hunted with spears and bows 5 types of seals were hunted using breathing holes and on the ice, along with walrus Char was fished using weirs, traps and barbed spears

31 The Far North The Pre-Dorset BC  After 1300 BC the population increased west of the Hudson Bay Were highly migratory focusing on caribou  East of this area sea mammals were the important resource  The Saqqaq Complex ( BC) In Disko Bay on the western coast of Greenland a wealth of material has been found Wooden artefacts, hafted shafts, ivory and bone artefacts and human remains Slate microblades, heavy bifaces and endscrapers The tools were crafted for particular functions

32 Pre-Dorset and Dorset Harpoon heads from 1700 BC to AD 1000

33 The Far North The Eastern Arctic c – 500 BC  At many of these sites the true complexity of the Arctic Small Tool Tradition is not revealed  Questions remain as to the relationships between the groups in the west and the east, but they all share common characteristics  Sites disappear throughout the east around 500 BC when climate decreases after the Altithermal

34 The Far North The Sub-Arctic c – Present  As the ice retreated beginning around BP areas were open in the Sub Arctic Vegetation began to move in followed by the animals and then people  Two groups of people move into this region in the Early and Mid Holocene The first from west of the Hudson Bay The second around the Great Lakes and spread along the St Lawrence Valley and northward

35 The Far North The Northern Archaic – Present  The Northern Archaic tradition appears when the taiga belt begins to widen forcing the Paleo-Indian people living there to respond  Sites are found from Alaska to the southwest part of the NWT  They are distinguished from the Paleo- Arctic groups by their side-notched points, unifacial knives and endscrapers  These groups may be associated with the Athabaskans

36 The Far North The Shield Archaic c – Present  These groups live in the forested region of the sub arctic  Sites on the shore of Great Slave lake date to 5000 BC  Caribou hunting was their primary activity in the northern fringes  In the south and west, deer, elk, moose were the staple prey  Both regions also fished and collected shellfish where possible

37 The Far North The Shield Archaic c – Present  In the central Keewatin region groups camped along the rivers and lakes following the caribou  The tool is marked with lanceolate projectile points, discoidal biface knives and various scrapers  The Keewatin lanceolate point eventually developed into various stemmed forms as the projectile becomes smaller

38 The Far North The Maritime Archaic ? 7000 – Present  These sites are found along the Atlantic coast from Maine to Labrador  They likely subsided on coastal recourses on a seasonal basis but relied on elk, moose, caribou and others in the winter  Some sites have longhouses  They were engaged in long distance trade  Port aux Choix, Newfoundland was a sea mammal community from BC Had more than 100 ocher adorned graves The deceased were dressed in hides with great bead work, and had ivory and bone daggers

39 The Far North When the Europeans Arrive  Groups living in the Maritime region and other areas of the sub artic slowly evolved into the Native American groups living in the region when the Europeans arrived Beothucks of Newfoundland Innu of Quebec and Labrador Cree and Ojibwa of the Hudson Bay Lowlands Chipewyan west of the Hudson Bay Other Athabaskan speaking peoples of the northwest


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