Traditions Past and Present: Allen McCartney and the Izembek Phase of the Western Alaska Peninsula

Herbert D. G. Maschner


In 1971 Allen McCartney, together with Nancy McCartney and Michael Yarborough, conducted the first archaeological investigations on the lower Alaska Peninsula. The goal of their research was to investigate the boundary zone between the Aleut of the Aleutian Islands and western Peninsula, and the Yupik/Alutiiq peoples to the northeast. Excavating at three sites, McCartney and crew found the remains of villages dating to approximately A.D. 1000 that shared a particular type of projectile that became known as the Izembek Point, as well as a suite of more northern features such as polished slate, pottery, and a house with a stone foundation and a whale bone superstructure. McCartney defined the Izembek Phase based on these finds. Research conducted by Maschner over the last eleven years allows for an evaluation of the Izembek Phase and provides the necessary data to place McCartney’s initial important discoveries in a broader context. Based on new dates and fieldwork, the Izembek Phase as McCartney defined it is now quite different from its original formulation.

  • Herbert D. G. Maschner, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, Campus Box 8005, Idaho State University, Pocatello, Idaho 83209

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