Open Access

Iyatayet Revisited: A Report on Renewed Investigations of a Stratified Middle-to-Late Holocene Coastal Campsite in Norton Sound, Alaska

Andrew H. Tremayne, Christyann M. Darwent, John Darwent, Kelly A. Eldridge and Jeffrey T. Rasic


The multicomponent middle-to-late Holocene coastal site of Iyatayet, at Cape Denbigh, Alaska, originally excavated by J. L. Giddings in the early 1950s, was key to developing a culture-historical sequence for northwest Alaska. We revisited the site in 2012 and 2013 to collect data to refine the occupation chronology and to test models of maritime-resource intensification. Our results show the Denbigh Flint complex occupations at Iyatayet are younger and briefer than previously believed. Gaps of 1,000 years separate the Denbigh, Norton, and Thule occupations, suggesting reduced use of eastern Norton Sound during these periods. Artifacts and faunal remains from each component indicate reduced mobility and increased focus on marine resources following the Denbigh period, but Norton occupants hunted the same suite of marine prey as the later Thule, demonstrating they were was equally proficient at foraging from the sea.

  • 1. Because the editors are authors on this paper, the peer-review process was administrated by editorial board member Dr. Susan Kaplan, Bowdoin College.

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