Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Faunal and osseous tool analysis from KTZ-036 (Kotzebue Archaeological District), a late prehistoric site in Kotzebue, Alaska
by Shinabarger, Travis J., M.A., University of Alaska Anchorage, 2014, 209; 1571621
Abstract (Summary)

Osseous tools are often recovered from coastal archaeological sites in Alaska due to favorable preservation conditions. In northwest Alaska, outside of harpoon typology, these osseous tools are not well analyzed. In 2008, the Office of History and Archaeology (OHA) excavated a multi-component site adjacent to the shore in Kotzebue, Alaska. Organic materials and lithic tools were recovered from three components dated to AD 600, AD 1200-1600, and within the last 300 years. The Shore Avenue collection extends the documented archaeological record of Kotzebue by nearly 750 years. Osseous tools and debitage consisted of 175 artifacts within the collection, while an abundant amount of archaeofauna provided a sample of raw materials available at the site for the manufacture of osseous tools.

This thesis focuses on the probability of raw materials being sourced locally, or through the use of long-distance travel, or trade, through an analysis of the archaeofauna from the Kotzebue Archaeological District, KTZ-036. Such analyses identified caribou antler as a locally-available raw materials for tool production. In contrast, walrus and ivory occurred in much lower frequencies. The archaeological findings were compared with contemporary harvest numbers by modern Native hunters from Kotzebue; the result corroborated the archaeofaunal inferences.

Analyses of the recovered osseous tools revealed a relatively high amount (26.3%) of ivory tools (n=23) and debitage (n=23) for what would be expected through the results of the faunal analysis where walrus made up only 4% (n=22) of the identified sea mammal remains. To determine potential contributing factors for this anomaly, the osseous tools were classified into functional and morphological groups to note possible trends within each group. This was coupled with a literature review of the structural and mechanical characteristics of the osseous materials to identify selective pressures for the manufacture of osseous tools that may push tool-makers to look beyond what is locally available.

Finally a cross-site comparison was completed of eight sites in the Arctic and Subarctic to reveal similarities of use in osseous materials spatially and temporally. Overall, it was determined that when the function of an osseous tool requires it to receive an applied force, a raw material is selected based on its properties that allow it to withstand the applied force. When few or no forces are applied to a tool, selection pressure relaxes, and any osseous material is used in manufacture. Aesthetics of ivory should also be considered, where sheen and carving detail can provide more artistic appeal. These trends are fairly consistent across the Arctic but should be considered in more depth to confirm this observation.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Yesner, David R.
Commitee: DePew, Alan D., Hanson, Diane K., Mason, Owen K., Veltre, Douglas W.
School: University of Alaska Anchorage
Department: Anthropology
School Location: United States -- Alaska
Source: MAI 54/02M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Archaeology, Cultural Resources Management
Keywords: Alaska, Antler, Arctic archaeology, Faunal analysis, Ivory, Osseous technology
Publication Number: 1571621
ISBN: 978-1-321-43428-6
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