Northern Archaic Settlement and Subsistence Patterns at Agiak Lake, Brooks Range, Alaska

Aaron K. Wilson and Jeffrey T. Rasic

Abstract

While dozens of sites in northern Alaska have been assigned to the Northern Archaic tradition, most are small lithic scatters that represent ephemeral occupations and often contain only a single side-notched biface. In contrast, two sites at Agiak Lake in the central Brooks Range have revealed a range of Northern Archaic tools which are firmly associated with at least 55 stone tent rings dated to 5600–4900 cal. yrs. B.P. The large number of housing features at Agiak Lake offers a unique perspective on Northern Archaic settlement patterns and land use. We examine whether the accumulation of tent rings represents population aggregation or repeated use of the area, and draw on ethnographic data about Arctic caribou hunting groups as a point of comparison. Patterns at Agiak Lake favor repeated long-term use, although small scale aggregations cannot be ruled out.

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