Late Prehistoric Interaction Networks in Northwest Alaska: a Study of Hunter-Gatherer Ceramic Production and Distribution in the Arctic

My dissertation research is directed towards understanding human adaptations to environmental variability during the mid to late Holocene in Northwest Alaska and how these adaptations may have contributed to the development of the complex socio-economic networks present during the historic period. Specifically, I am interested in how and why hunter-gatherers adapt to environmental variability through extensive interaction networks and how quickly and in what way these networks respond to increased or decreased environmental variability. In order to address these questions, I am studying arctic pottery technology and distribution in Northwest Alaska. I am using chemical sourcing to determine use of local versus non-local clay sources at several sites in my study area and to connect finished pottery from archaeological sites to different clay sources around Kotzebue Sound . Technological analysis of pottery will provide additional information about the transfer of pottery making information around the region. In this way, I can study the movement of pottery, ideas and people throughout the time period in question. I am studying pottery from several coastal and interior sites around the Kotzebue Sound including pottery from Giddings’ Kobuk River and Kotzebue collections housed at the University of Alaska Museum and materials from National Park Service collections. In addition, I am collecting new pottery samples as part of the cooperative University of Washington-National Park Service Human and Environmental Dynamics project at Cape Krusenstern and plan to collect raw clay samples from around the region in summer 2009. Chemical and mineralogical characterization of these samples will help me identify regional pottery production and distribution patterns.

Funding: funded in part by the Bureau of Land Management - University of Alaska Museum Archaeological Collections Research Fellowship

Collecting Data on Pottery in the UAM Archaeology Collections