A Current Synthesis of the Northern Archaic

Julie A. Esdale


Notched-point-bearing artifact assemblages found in Alaska and Yukon have commonly been attributed to the Northern Archaic tradition. Although the term Northern Archaic is commonly applied to notched-point-bearing assemblages, its use has extended beyond original intentions. This paper reviews the formulation of the Northern Archaic as it is known today and compiles nearly 200 notched point sites in Alaska and Yukon to critically review the age, distribution, and material culture of this tradition. Radiocarbon dates from sites show that this tradition falls mainly into the range of 3000–6000 years before present. Sites cluster in mountainous areas within and beyond the spruce tree line. Microblade and burin technology appears to be important in at least 30 percent of assemblages. Subsistence revolves around caribou in all areas and inadequate evidence at present exists to suggest fishing as a major seasonal activity.

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