XVI INQUA Congress
Paper No. 65-3
Presentation Time: 8:50 AM-9:10 AM

CHRONOLOGY AND PALEOECOLOGY OF HUMAN COLONIZATION OF BERINGIA

YESNER, David R., Department of Anthropology, Univ of Alaska Anchorage, 3211 Providence Drive, Anchorage, AK 99508, afdry@uaa.alaska.edu and SLOBODIN, Sergei, Northeast Interdisciplinary Research Institute of History and Archaeology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Magadan, Russia

After 50 yr of fieldwork, basic outlines of the chronology and paleoecology of early human occupation of Beringia are becoming understood. By 14,000 yr BP, dwarf shrub tundra emerged in river valleys, and by 11,000 yr BP open forest parklands appeared. By 9000 yr BP climatic conditions were close to present. Western Beringia was colonized by around 14,000 yr BP, and eastern Beringia by around 12,000 yr BP. Constraints on early colonization included extreme winter cold and technological requirements for clothing manufacture and accessibility to lithic resources, especially in winter. Caves and open-air sites were inhabited from the beginning, with the former presenting some special taphonomic problems.

In W. Beringia, new fieldwork at the Ushki site (Kamchatka) has clarified the chronology of the non-microblade complex, slightly reducing its age and testifying to its coexistence with the Nenana Complex of E. Beringia. Ushki dwellings, tool kits, and burials offer good examples of adaptation to western Beringia at the end of the LGM. Beyond Kamchatka, Berelekh remains technologically and chronologically obscure. The Okhotsk-Kolyma Upland Complexes (Kheta, Druchak-Vetrenny) testify to the spread of the Yubetsu microblade technique from the Russian Far East and northern Japan toward at the end of the LGM. In Chukotka, microblade complexes are now well dated to 10,000 yr BP, at about the same time that such complexes appear in eastern Beringia.

In eastern Beringia, additional work on the Nenana Complex of interior Alaska and the fluted and lanceolate point industries of northern Alaska, dating from around 12,000 to 9500 yr BP, suggest the range and complexity of these early technologies, and the difficulty in correlating them with Paleoindian assemblages to the south. Organic tools, such as those recovered from the Broken Mammoth site in the Tanana Valley, link early sites in interior Alaska with both Upper Palaeolithic and Paleoindian sites. A wide diversity of subsistence including bison, elk, caribou, small game, birds, and fish is indicated by faunal remains, along with the use of both spearing and netting technologies.

Beyond the interior of Beringia, the notion of early habitation of the coastline has not been verified, with the earliest coastal sites dating to ca. 8,500 yr BP, equivalent to the Early Neolithic cultures of the Russian Far East.

XVI INQUA Congress
General Information for this Meeting
Session No. 65
Paleoindian Western North America: Climate and Life at the Last Glacial Termination
Reno Hilton Resort and Conference Center: Tahoe
8:00 AM-12:00 PM, Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, , p. 190

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