Skip to main content
×
×
Home

THE MICROBLADE INDUSTRY FROM SWAN POINT CULTURAL ZONE 4b: TECHNOLOGICAL AND CULTURAL IMPLICATIONS FROM THE EARLIEST HUMAN OCCUPATION IN ALASKA

  • Yan Axel Gómez Coutouly (a1) and Charles E. Holmes (a2)
Abstract

Swan Point in central Alaska contains the oldest recognized human occupation in Alaska (Cultural Zone 4b [CZ4b]), dating to circa 14,000 cal BP. This component consists of a microblade and burin industry with clear technological ties to the Siberian Upper Paleolithic Diuktai Culture. Through the systematic use of the Yubetsu method for the production of microblades, Swan Point is technologically more similar to Siberian microblade sites than to later-age (Denali complex) microblade sites in Alaska. The Yubetsu method is the hallmark of the Diuktai Culture, and in Alaska, Swan Point CZ4b is the only component with systematic production of microblades using the Yubetsu method. Other late Pleistocene and Holocene microblade sites in Alaska have an industry based on Campus-style, conical, or tabular microblade cores. Analysis of the collection furthers our understanding of how CZ4b relates to previous Siberian Diuktai-related assemblages and to later Alaskan Denali-related sites. We interpret the CZ4b component as representing a brief single event that has major cultural and technological implications for the early colonization process of North America.

Swan Point, dans la région centrale de l'Alaska, contient la plus ancienne occupation humaine en Alaska (Zone Culturelle 4b [CZ4b]) datant de circa 14 000 cal BP. Cette composante est constituée d'une industrie à lamelle et de burins avec de claires parentés technologiques avec la Culture de Dyuktaï du Paléolithique supérieur sibérien. Grâce à l'utilisation systématique de la méthode Yubetsu pour la production de lamelles, Swan Point est technologiquement plus proche des sites à lamelles de Sibérie que des sites à lamelles d'Alaska (complexe Dénali) qui suivront. La méthode de Yubetsu est la signature de la Culture de Dyuktaï, alors qu'en Alaska, Swan Point CZ4b est le seul site avec une production systématique de lamelles en utilisant la méthode Yubetsu. En effet, d'autres sites à lamelles du Pléistocène supérieur et de l'Holocène en Alaska ont une industrie basée sur des nucléus à lamelles de type Campus, coniques ou tabulaires. L'analyse de la collection peut ainsi nous aider à comprendre comment ce site se rapporte aux plus anciens assemblages liés à Dyuktaï en Sibérie et à ceux plus tardifs des sites Dénali en Alaska. Nous interprétons la composante CZ4b comme un événement unique de courte durée, ce qui a des implications culturelles et technologiques majeures pour le peuplement de l'Amérique du Nord.

Copyright
Corresponding author
(yanaxel@northpacificprehistory.com, corresponding author)
References
Hide All
Bae, Kidong 2010 Origin and Patterns of the Upper Paleolithic Industries in the Korean Peninsula and Movement of Modern Humans in East Asia. Quaternary International 211:103112.
Bever, Michael R. 2006 Too Little, Too Late? The Radiocarbon Chronology of Alaska and the Peopling of the New World. American Antiquity 71:595620.
Bigelow, Nancy H., and Roger Powers, W. 1994 New AMS Dates from the Dry Creek Paleoindian Site, Central Alaska. Current Research in the Pleistocene 11:114116.
Cook, John P. 1995 Characterization and Distribution of Obsidian in Alaska. Arctic Anthropology 32:92100.
Derevianko, Anatoly P., Agadjanyan, A. K., Baryshnikov, G. F., Dergacheva, M. I., Dupal, T. A., Malaeva, E. M., Markin, S. V., Molodin, V. I., Nikolaev, S. V., Orlova, L. A., Petrin, V. T., Postnov, A. V., Ulianov, V. A., Fedeneva, I. K., Foronova, I. V., and Shunkov, M. V. 1998 Археология, геология и палеогеография плейстоцена и голоцена Горного Алтая Arkheologiya, geologiya i paleogeografiya pleistotsena i golotsena Gornogo Altaya [Archaeology, Geology, and the Pleistocene and Holocene Paleogeography of the Mountainous Altai]. Izdatelstvo Instituta Arkheologii i Etnografii Sibirskogo Otdeleniya Rossiiskoi Akademii Nauk, Novosibirsk, Russia.
Dikov, Nikolai N. 1996 The Ushki Sites, Kamchatka Peninsula. In American Beginnings: The Prehistory and Palaeoecology of Beringia, edited by West, Frederick H., pp. 244250. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
Flenniken, J. Jeffrey 1987 The Paleolithic Dyuktai Pressure Blade Technique of Siberia. Arctic Anthropology 24:117132.
Flenniken, J. Jeffrey, and Hirth, Kenneth G. 2003 Handheld Prismatic Blade Manufacture in Mesoamerica. In Mesoamerican Lithic Technology: Experimentation and Interpretation, edited by Hirth, Kenneth G., pp. 98107. University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City.
Goebel, Ted 2011 What Is the Nenana Complex? In From the Yenisei to the Yukon: Interpreting Lithic Assemblage Variability in Late Pleistocene/Early Holocene Beringia, edited by Goebel, Ted and Buvit, Ian, pp. 199214. Texas A&M University Press, College Station.
Goebel, Ted, Waters, Michael R., and Dikova, Margarita 2003 The Archaeology of Ushki Lake, Kamchatka, and the Pleistocene Peopling of the Americas. Science 301:501505.
Gómez Coutouly, Yan Axel 2007 Rethinking the Ustinovka Complex: Lithic Technology and Raw Material in Palaeolithic Microblade Industries of Primorye (Russian Far East). North Pacific Prehistory 1:65110.
Gómez Coutouly, Yan Axel 2011a Industries lithiques à composante lamellaire par pression du Nord Pacifique de la fin du Pléistocène au début de l'Holocène: De la diffusion d'une technique en Extrême-Orient au peuplement initial du Nouveau Monde [Lithic Industries with Pressure Microblade Components of the North Pacific Region in the Terminal Pleistocene and Early Holocene: From the Diffusion of a Technique in the Asian Far East to the Initial Peopling of the New World]. Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense, Nanterre, France.
Gómez Coutouly, Yan Axel 2011b Identifying Pressure Flaking Modes at Dyuktai Cave: A Case Study of the Siberian Upper Paleolithic Microblade Tradition. In From the Yenisei to the Yukon: Interpreting Lithic Assemblage Variability in Late Pleistocene/Early Holocene Beringia, edited by Goebel, Ted and Buvit, Ian, pp. 7590. Texas A&M University Press, College Station.
Gómez Coutouly, Yan Axel 2012 Pressure Microblade Industries in Pleistocene-Holocene Interior Alaska: Current Data and Discussions. In The Emergence of Pressure Blade Making, edited by Desrosiers, Pierre M., pp. 347374. Springer, Quebec, Canada.
Gómez Coutouly, Yan Axel 2016 Migrations and Interactions in Prehistoric Beringia: The Evolution of Yakutian Lithic Technology. Antiquity 90:931.
Graf, Kelly E. 2009 Modern Human Colonization of the Siberian Mammoth Steppe: A View from South-Central Siberia. In Sourcebook of Paleolithic Transitions, edited by Camps, Marta and Chauhan, Parth R., pp. 479501. Springer, New York.
Graf, Kelly E., and Bigelow, Nancy H. 2011 Human Response to Climate during the Younger Dryas Chronozone in Central Alaska. Quaternary International 242:434451.
Graf, Kelly E., DiPietro, Lyndsay M., Krasinski, Kathryn E., Gore, Angela K., Smith, Heather L., Culleton, Brendan J., Kennett, Douglas J., and Rhode, David 2015 Dry Creek Revisited: New Excavations, Radiocarbon Dates, and Site Formation Inform on the Peopling of Eastern Beringia. American Antiquity 80:671694.
Guthrie, R. Dale 2001 Origins and Causes of the Mammoth Steppe: A Story of Cloud Cover, Woolly Mammoth Tooth Pits, Buckles, and Inside-Out Beringia. Quaternary Science Reviews 20:549574.
Hirasawa, Yu, and Holmes, Charles E. 2016 The Relationship between Microblade Morphology and Production Technology in Alaska from the Perspective of the Swan Point Site. Quaternary International 442:104117.
Holmes, Charles E. 2001 Tanana River Valley Archaeology circa 14,000 to 9000 Yrs. B.P. Arctic Anthropology 38:154170.
Holmes, Charles E. 2008 The Taiga Period: Holocene Archaeology of the Northern Boreal Forest, Alaska. Alaska Journal of Anthropology 6(1–2):6981.
Holmes, Charles E. 2011 The Beringian and Transitional Periods in Alaska: Technology of the East Beringian Tradition as Viewed from Swan Point. In From the Yenisei to the Yukon: Interpreting Lithic Assemblage Variability in Late Pleistocene/Early Holocene Beringia, edited by Goebel, Ted and Buvit, Ian, pp. 179191. Texas A&M University Press, College Station.
Ineshin, Evgeniy M., and Teten'kin, Aleksei V. 2011 Late Paleolithic and Mesolithic Technological Variability in the Lower Vitim Valley, Eastern Siberia. In From the Yenisei to the Yukon: Interpreting Lithic Assemblage Variability in Late Pleistocene/Early Holocene Beringia, edited by Goebel, Ted and Buvit, Ian, pp. 5874. Texas A&M University Press, College Station.
Inizan, Marie-Louise, Reduron-Ballinger, Michèle, and Roche, Hélène 1999 Prehistory and Terminology of Knapped Stone. Translated by Féblot-Augustins, Jehanne. CREP, Nanterre, France.
Keates, Susan G. 2007 Microblade Technology in Siberia and Neighbouring Regions: An Overview. In Origin and Spread of Microblade Technology in Northern Asia and North America, edited by Kuzmin, Yaroslav V., Keates, Susan G., and Chen, Shen, pp. 125146. Archaeology Press, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada.
Kobayashi, Tatsuo 1970 Microblade Industries in the Japanese Archipelago. Arctic Anthropology 7:3858.
Kuzmin, Yaroslav V. 2007 Geoarchaeological Aspects of the Origin and Spread of Microblade Technology in Northern and Central Asia. In Origin and Spread of Microblade Technology in Northern Asia and North America, edited by Kuzmin, Yaroslav V., Keates, Susan G., and Chen, Shen, pp. 115124. Archaeology Press, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada.
Lanoë, François B., and Holmes, Charles E. 2016 Animals as Raw Material in Beringia: Insights from the Site of Swan Point CZ4b, Alaska. American Antiquity 81:682696.
Mobley, Charles M. 1991 The Campus Site: A Prehistoric Camp at Fairbanks, Alaska. University of Alaska Press, Fairbanks.
Mochanov, Yura A. 1977 The Earliest Stages of Settlement by People of Northeast Asia. Translated by Richard L. Bland. Nauka, Novosibirsk, Russia.
Mochanov, Yura A., and Fedoseeva, Svetlana A. 1996a Dyuktai Cave. In American Beginnings: The Prehistory and Palaeoecology of Beringia, edited by West, Frederick H., pp. 164174. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
Mochanov, Yura A., and Fedoseeva, Svetlana A. 1996b Verkhne-Troitskaya. In American Beginnings: The Prehistory and Palaeoecology of Beringia, edited by West, Frederick H., pp. 180184. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
Mochanov, Yura A., and Fedoseeva, Svetlana A. 1996c Ezhantsy. In American Beginnings: The Prehistory and Palaeoecology of Beringia, edited by West, Frederick H., pp. 184188. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
Morlan, Richard E. 1970 Wedge-Shaped Core Technology in Northern North America. Arctic Anthropology 6(2):1737.
Morlan, Richard E. 1976 Technological Characteristics of Some Wedge-Shaped Cores in Northwestern North America and Northeast Asia. Asian Perspectives 19:96106.
Mulligan, Connie J., Kitchen, Andrew, and Miyamoto, Michael M. 2008 Updated Three-Stage Model for the Peopling of the Americas. PloS ONE 3: e3199. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0003199
Pelegrin, Jacques 1988 Débitage expérimental par pression: Du plus petit au plus grand [Experimental Flaking by Pressure: From the Smallest to the Largest]. Technologie préhistorique 25:3753.
Pelegrin, Jacques 2012 New Experimental Observations for the Characterization of Pressure Blade Production Techniques. In The Emergence of Pressure Blade Making, edited by Desrosiers, Pierre M., pp. 465500. Springer, Quebec, Canada.
Pelegrin, Jacques, and Yamanaka, Ichiro 2007 From the Smallest to the Largest: Experimental Flaking by Pressure Techniques. Cultura Antiqua 58:116.
Pitul'ko, Vladimir V. 1998 Жоховская стоянка Zhokhovskaya stoyanka [The Zhokhov Site]. Institut Istoria Material'noii Kul'tury, Saint Petersburg, Russia.
Potter, Ben A., Reuther, Joshua D., Holliday, Vance T., Holmes, Charles E., Shane Miller, D., and Schmuck, Nicholas 2017 Early Colonization of Beringia and Northern North America: Chronology, Routes, and Adaptive Strategies. Quaternary International 444:3655.
Powers, W. Roger, Dale Guthrie, R., and Hoffecker, John F. 2017 Dry Creek: Archaeology and Paleoecology of a Late Pleistocene Alaskan Hunting Camp. Edited by Ted Goebel. Texas A&M University Press, College Station.
Rasic, Jeffrey T. 2011 Functional Variability in the Late Pleistocene Archaeological Record of Eastern Beringia: A Model of Late Pleistocene Land Use and Technology from Northwest Alaska. In From the Yenisei to the Yukon: Interpreting Lithic Assemblage Variability in Late Pleistocene/Early Holocene Beringia, edited by Goebel, Ted and Buvit, Ian, pp. 128164. Texas A&M University Press, College Station.
Seong, Chuntaek 2011 Evaluating Radiocarbon Dates and Late Paleolithic Chronology in Korea. Arctic Anthropology 48:93112.
Speakman, Robert J., Holmes, Charles E., and Glascock, Michael D. 2007 Source Determination of Obsidian Artifacts from Swan Point (XBD-156), Alaska. Current Research in the Pleistocene 24:143145.
Tamm, Erika, Kivisild, Toomas, Reidla, Maere, Metspalu, Mait, Smith, David Glenn, Mulligan, Connie J., Bravi, Claudio M., Rickards, Olga, Martinez-Labarga, Cristina, Khusnutdinova, Elsa K., Fedorova, Sardana A., Golubenko, Maria V., Stepanov, Vadim A., Gubina, Marina A., Zhadanov, Sergey I., Ossipova, Ludmila P., Damba, Larisa, Voevoda, Mikhail I., Dipierri, Jose E., Villems, Richard, and Malhi, Ripan S. 2007 Beringian Standstill and Spread of Native American Founders. PloS ONE 2(9): e829. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0000829
Tixier, Jacques 1984 Le débitage par pression [Pressure knapping]. In Préhistoire de la pierre taillée, edited by Tixier, Jacques, Inizan, Marie-Louise, and Roche, Hélène, pp. 5770. Économie du débitage laminaire, Vol. 2. CREP, Paris.
West, Frederick H. 1967 The Donnelly Ridge Site and the Definition of an Early Core and Blade Complex in Central Alaska. American Antiquity 32:360382.
West, Frederick H. 1996 Beringia and the New World Origins II: The Archaeological Evidence. In American Beginnings: The Prehistory and Palaeoecology of Beringia, edited by West, Frederick H., pp. 537559. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
Wygal, Brian T. 2011 The Microblade/Non-microblade Dichotomy: Climatic Implications, Toolkit Variability, and the Role of Tiny Tools in Eastern Beringia. In From the Yenisei to the Yukon: Interpreting Lithic Assemblage Variability in Late Pleistocene/Early Holocene Beringia, edited by Goebel, Ted and Buvit, Ian, pp. 234254. Texas A&M University Press, College Station.
Wygal, Brian T. 2018 The Peopling of Eastern Beringia and Its Archaeological Complexities. Quaternary International 466: 284298.
Yesner, David R., and Pearson, Georges A. 2002 Microblades and Migrations: Ethnic and Economic Models in the Peopling of the Americas. In Thinking Small: Global Perspectives on Microlithization, edited by Eltson, Robert G. and Kuhn, Steven L., pp. 132161. Archeological Papers of the American Anthropological Association No. 12. American Anthropological Association, Arlington, Virginia.
Yi, Mingjie, Gao, Xing, Li, Feng, and Chen, Fuyou 2016 Rethinking the Origin of Microblade Technology: A Chronological and Ecological Perspective. Quaternary International 400:130139.
Yi, Seonbok, and Clark, Geoffrey 1985 The “Dyuktai Culture” and New World Origins. Current Anthropology 26:120.
Zenin, V. N., Leshchinskiy, S. V., Zolotarev, K. V., Grootes, P. M., and Nadeau, M. J. 2006 Lugovskoe: Geoarchaeology and Culture of a Paleolithic Site. Archaeology, Ethnology and Anthropology of Eurasia 25:4153.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

American Antiquity
  • ISSN: 0002-7316
  • EISSN: 2325-5064
  • URL: /core/journals/american-antiquity
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×
Type Description Title
UNKNOWN
Supplementary materials

Gómez Coutouly and Holmes supplementary material
Gómez Coutouly and Holmes supplementary material 1

 Unknown (22.2 MB)
22.2 MB

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed