The Amaknak Bridge Site: Cultural Change and the Neoglacial in the Eastern Aleutians

Richard A. Knecht and Richard S. Davis


Evidence from a series of excavations in Unalaska Bay indicates that the onset of the Neoglacial had begun to alter the cultural and natural landscape of the Aleutian Islands as early as 4500 rcybp. By 3500 rcybp deep semi-subterranean houses with stone walls and elaborate hearth systems were constructed at the Margaret Bay site. The nearby Amaknak Bridge site was occupied between 3300 and 2700 rcybp and faunal data reflect a very significant increase in the extent and duration of ice in the Bering Sea. Multiple room houses, elaborate labrets, complex burials, and other evidence of changes in social organization were among the cultural responses of the ancient Unangan to the colder conditions of the Neoglacial. We also find evidence for technological innovation, aggregated settlements, and resource intensification during this time.

  • Richard Knecht, Department of Alaska Native and Rural Development, University of Alaska Fairbanks, 2221 E. Northern Lights Blvd., #213, Anchorage, Alaska 99508

  • Richard Davis, Department of Anthropology, Bryn Mawr College, 101 N. Merion Ave, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania 19010