Preliminary archaeoentomological analyses of permafrost-preserved cultural layers from the pre-contact Yup’ik Eskimo site of Nunalleq, Alaska: implications, potential and methodological considerations

Veronique Forbes, Kate Britton, Rick Knecht

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19 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

At Nunalleq, a pre-contact Yup’ik Eskimo village site in Alaska (14th-17th Century AD), abundant insect remains from highly organic substrates preserved within permafrost offer a unique opportunity to investigate past ecological and living conditions. This paper presents the preliminary results obtained from the analysis of two samples collected from floor layers in sod houses. The numerous and diverse insect remains highlight the exciting potential of archaeoentomology for reconstructing past ecological conditions, resource exploitation and the use of space at northern hunter-gatherer sites and have permitted the development of a strategy for the future collection of archaeoentomological data at permafrost-preserved sites in Alaska and elsewhere.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)158-167
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Archaeology
Volume20
Issue number2
Early online date5 Sept 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2015

Bibliographical note

Acknowledgements
Site excavation and samples collection were conducted by archaeologists from the University of Aberdeen, with the help of archaeologists and student excavators from the University of Aberdeen University of Alaska
Fairbanks and Bryn Mawr College, Kuskokwim Campus, College of Rural Alaska and residents of Quinhagak and Mekoryuk. This study is funded through AHRC grant to the project ‘Understanding Cultural Resilience and Climate Change on the Bering Sea through Yup’ik Ecological Knowledge, Lifeways, Learning and Archaeology’ to Rick Knecht, Kate Britton and Charlotta Hillderal (University of Aberdeen; AH/K006029/1). Thanks are due to Qanirtuuq Inc. and Quinhagak, Alaska for sampling permissions and to entomologists working at the CNC in Ottawa for allowing access to reference collections of beetles, lice and fleas. Yves Bousquet, Ales Smetana and Anthony E. Davies are specially acknowledged for their help with the identification of coleopteran specimens. Finally, we would
also like to thank Scott Elias for useful comments on the original manuscript.

Keywords

  • Archaeoentmology
  • Pre-contact Alaska
  • Ectoparasites
  • Methods

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