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Hunting and gathering societies, Excavations (Archaeology), Arctic regions -- Antiquities, Arctic peoples


Study of northwest Alaskan ceramic production and distribution patterns has the potential to provide new evidence of coastal hunter-gatherer mobility and social interaction in the late pre-contact period. This research is directed at characterizing potential clay sources and linking ceramic groups to raw-material source areas through instrumental neutron activation analysis (INAA) and modeling of possible clay and temper combinations. Results of INAA of 458 ceramic, 31 clay, and 28 possible temper specimens reinforces prior identification (Anderson et al., 2011) of three broad compositional groups. Though raw materials were collected over a large area, the clay specimens demonstrate remarkable geochemical homogeneity and fall within one of the established ceramic geochemical groups, Macrogroup 2. This suggests that potters may have added little to no mineral temper to the clays and also that what we have termed Macrogroup 2 ceramics were produced in the north and central areas of northwest Alaska. Group 1 and 3 ceramics may be evidence of pottery being brought into the region from elsewhere. Results indicate that ceramics circulated widely around the region and suggest the possibility of areas of greater production perhaps due to an abundance of clay or wood fuels needed for firing. This work lays the foundation for further exploring the cultural processes that underlie these distributions and provides insight into the complexities of hunter-gatherer ceramic production and distribution


This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Journal of Archaeological Science. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Journal of Archaeological Science, Volume 6, April 2016, Pages 200–210 and can be found online:

© 2016. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license

*Please note, per publisher's request this work is embargoed until March 2019



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