Anthropology 2230F/G Lecture Notes - Needlecase, Independence I Culture, Adze

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Published on 28 Sep 2013
Department
Professor
Sept, 26, 2013
Early Arctic Prehistory
Hunter Gatherer Mobility:
-Lewis Binford was the first to lay out definitions on the way they move
-He used the term residential mobility with foragers and logistical mobility with collectors but groups could be a
mix of both and their place on the spectrum could shift
-Residential mobility is when the whole community moves for resources where as logistical has base camps with
task groups that come and go so they move camp less and use special purpose sites
-Logistical groups have larger populations and are more common in areas where resources are seasonal and they
use food storage and this affects dwellings because they are more invested in them and they are more permanent
Dating:
-This is more complex in the Arctic but C14 dating is still used and the decay is measured as it transforms into more
stable C12 (decay happens at a fixed rate)
-Radio carbon dates are measured in years BP (present being defined as 1950) and the +- after each date
represents the error rate and we also use BCE
-Dating in the Arctic is complicated because carbon cycles in marine systems are different than those on land
because of the Marine Reservoir Effect that makes marine mammal bones look older than they really are so we
can only date with terrestrial bones but this effect too has variables making things more difficult
-We can’t really rely on floral remains either because they are so sparse so we use drift wood to a certain extent
but this too is problematic because it could have floated for years before it was incorporated into sites
-There are also issues with using stratigraphy because there is slow soil development with mixed deposits so there
isn’t much divide between multi-component areas making their strata harder to define
Climate Change Culture Change:
-We have to ask whether change in one leads to change in the other
-We attribute many cultural changes to climate change but this is not always true because people are complex
Reconstructing Climate:
-We use climate proxys like ice cores that have strata where we can see dust and salt but this measures is a very
broad scope
-We can also use dendrochronology where tree rings indicate temperature and rainfall but this is only used on drift
wood and in the southern Arctic where there are trees to date
-We can also see how the tree line shifts indicating temperature changes and pond sediments show us the
different plants that were in the area providing information on temperature and this is a more local record
-Climate records have problems because there is always a complex environmental-cultural relationship and the
climate proxys and archaeological record have different spatio-temporal resolution and we have to ask whether
correlation equals causation
Earliest Occupation:
-This starts in the Beringia area because so much water was locked up in glaciers lowering the sea level enough
that a land bridge formed between Siberia and Alaska and there were lots of Pleistocene megafauna
-There is also early evidence in the Yukon and some islands
-The people travelled down an ice free corridor or by hopping down the west coast
-This evidence is very controversial but two sites in the Yukon look promising:
Old Crow Flats:
-The site has artifacts in deposits with bone that is perhaps modified by humans and there is no disagreement that
the bones are old but it is the markings that are questioned
-The site dates to 40,000-25,000 years ago but new dating of the evidence shows that the supposed tools only date
to 6000 years old
Blue Fish Caves:
-The caves have obviously been inhabited by humans but the timing is questioned (ca. 17-14,000 BP but excavators
are claiming 27,000)
-There are stone microblades associated with megafauna remains that date to possibly 27,000 BP but again the
association is questioned
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Document Summary

Lewis binford was the first to lay out definitions on the way they move. He used the term residential mobility with foragers and logistical mobility with collectors but groups could be a mix of both and their place on the spectrum could shift. Residential mobility is when the whole community moves for resources where as logistical has base camps with task groups that come and go so they move camp less and use special purpose sites. Logistical groups have larger populations and are more common in areas where resources are seasonal and they use food storage and this affects dwellings because they are more invested in them and they are more permanent. This is more complex in the arctic but c14 dating is still used and the decay is measured as it transforms into more stable c12 (decay happens at a fixed rate)

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