GSA Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, USA - 2016

Paper No. 91-9
Presentation Time: 10:25 AM


SAVINETSKY, Arkady1, HATFIELD, Virginia2, KHASANOV, Bulat1, KRYLOVICH, Olga1, VASYUKOV, Dmitrii1 and WEST, Dixie Lee3, (1)Laboratory of Historical Ecology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution, Leninsky pr 33, 119071, Russia, (2)Biodiversity Institute, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS 66045, (3)Biodiversity Institute and Natural History Museum, The University of Kansas, Dyche Hall, 1345 Jayhawk Blvd, Lawrence, KS 66045,

The Bering Sea is one of the most productive seas in the world with enormous density and diversity of sea mammals, birds, and invertebrates. But there are no known ancient settlements on the coasts of the Bering Sea (except in the Aleutian Islands) older than 2700 years BP. There are sites to the north and south of the Bering Sea where ancient humans used marine resources between 8,000-3,000 years ago, such as on Zhokhov Island, Wrangel Island, Cape Krusenstern, Kodiak Island, Cape Lopatka on Kamchatka, among others. The speed of human migration was relatively high indicating humans could easily adapt to these territories. The nearby terrestrial ecosystems were also well populated between 8,000-3,000 BP by people equipped to access marine resources, but perhaps less intensively than Neo-Eskimo sea-mammal hunters. It is unlikely that settlements on both coasts of the Bering Sea were submerged due to sea level changes; thus, we argue that the absence of settlements older than 2700 BP on the Bering Sea coast is due to the low sea productivity brought on by complex oceanographic and climatic conditions. The intensive circulation of water around the Aleutian Islands created highly productive ecosystems. The waves of migrations into the Aleutian Islands through the Holocene (in the Central Aleutians by 6,500 years BP and in the Near Islands by 3,200 years BP) were likely associated with climate changes, often during cooler climatic periods. The same can be said about the migration wave of Neo-Aleuts in the Islands of the Four Mountains during the Little Ice Age.