An Analysis of Faunal Remains From A Denbigh Flint Complex Camp at Matcharak Lake, Alaska

Andrew H. Tremayne


The Matcharak Lake site, located in the Brooks Range, Alaska, represents the first faunal assemblage recovered from a Denbigh Flint Complex (early Arctic Small Tool tradition) locality anywhere in Arctic Alaska. Organic remains, which include numerous bone tools, are well preserved in the frozen tundra soil of this 3,900 year-old site. Over 81,000 faunal specimens were unearthed with the identified portion predominantly composed of caribou; however, Dall’s sheep, small mammals, bird, and fish were also recovered. Seasonal indicators suggest the hunting and butchering events occurred in the fall and spring. The presence of migratory bird and Alaska marmot suggest people camped here in the summer as well. Empirical evidence for Paleoeskimo subsistence are limited to coastal sites in the eastern Arctic. Matcharak Lake provides the first substantial dataset for supporting subsistence models for inland Denbigh groups in Alaska. Caribou clearly dominate in terms of potential calories and resource materials for clothing and shelter.