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1,000 Years of House Change at Cape Espenberg, Alaska: A Case Study in Horizontal Stratigraphy

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

John Darwent
Affiliation:
Department of Anthropology, University of California, Davis, CA 95616-8522 (jadarwent@ucdavis.edu)
Owen K. Mason
Affiliation:
Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309-0450
John F. Hoffecker
Affiliation:
Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309-0450
Christyann M. Darwent
Affiliation:
Department of Anthropology, University of California, Davis, CA 95616-8522 (jadarwent@ucdavis.edu)

Abstract

Cape Espenberg is on the farthest southwestern extent of Kotzebue Sound, Alaska, just above the Arctic Circle, and is a peninsula composed of a series of dune-covered beach ridges. As part of a larger research initiative, extensive mapping to record all cultural features and characterize the topography of approximately 1 km2 on the southeastern terminus of the cape was undertaken in 2007 and 2010. The primary purpose of this mapping was to explore the use of the cape for the past 1,200 years using one of the unique aspects of beach-ridge archaeology: horizontal stratigraphy. There were 11 intervals of beach ridge/dune development, and with the exception of one truncated ridge and the modern ridge, Thule-Iñupiaq people built semi-subterranean winter houses on each ridge. A total of 117 house depressions along with related cache pits, artifact scatters, whale bone, and hearths were identified; distribution of house forms indicate that Cape Espenberg has had an unbroken stream of cultural continuity. However, in terms of house architecture and community patterning, it appears that there has been a reduction of certain architectural components over time. Houses also occur more frequently in isolated contexts. Both aspects are coincident with the onset of the Little Ice Age.

Resumen

Resumen

Cabo Espenberg está en la extension sudoeste más alejada de Kotzebue Sound, Alaska, justo encima del Círculo Polar Ártico, y es una península formada por una serie de cordones litorales cubiertos de dunas. Como parte de una iniciativa de investigación más amplia, se llevó a cabo un mapeo extensivo para registrar todos los rasgos culturales y caracterizar la topografía de aproximadamente 1 km2 en el extremo sureste, en los años 2007 y 2010. El propósito principal de este mapeo fue explorar el uso del cabo durante los últimos 1,200 años empleando uno de los aspectos singulares de la arqueología de cordones litorales: la estratigrafía horizontal. Hubieron 11 cordones litorales/desarrollo dunar, y con la excepción de un cordón truncado y un cordón moderno, la gente de Thule-Iñupiaq construyó casas semi-subterráneas de invierno en cada cordón. Se identificarón un total de 117 depresiones habitacionales junto con fosas de almacenamiento relacionadas, artefactos dispersos, huesos de ballenas, y chimeneas; la distribución de las formas de la casa indican que Cabo Espenberg ha tenido una secuencia ininterrumpida de continuidad cultural. Sin embargo, en términos de arquitectura habitacional y diseño de comunidad parece que ha habido una reducción de ciertos componentes de la arquitectura a través del tiempo. Las casas también se producen con mayor frecuencia en contextos aislados. Ambos aspectos son coincidentes con el inicio de la Pequeña Edad de Hielo.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © 2013 by the Society for American Archaeology.

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