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The Peopling of the Arctic
- harshest living conditions on earth
- survival requires knowledge, specialized skill, versatility and seasonality know how
- area north of 66⁰ 33’N (the Arctic Circle).
- Includes Canada, Alaska, Russia, Greenland, Norway, Sweden, and Iceland
- Most of the area is located above the tree line, which follows the isotherm (latitude that has the same temperature) along the Arctic Circle.
- Extremely fluctuating temperatures
- Temperatures average -40⁰ C (-40⁰ F) in winter and about 10⁰ C (50⁰ F) in the summer.
- Precipitation is low, average less than 20 inches a year, primarily as snow
- Vegetation consists of small shrubs, lichens, mosses, and herbs, and is representative of tundra environments further south.
- Plant life becomes increasingly sparse further north and eventually dissipates altogether.
- low arctic has much more vegetation
- low arctic is in the south
- further north the more scare vegetation is
- variable seasonality
- Terrestrial species include fox, caribou, muskox, arctic squirrel, wolf, hare, lemming small members of the rodentia andermine families
- Marine species include seal, walrus, beluga, narwhal, baleen whale, Greenland shark,and killer whale.
- Avian species include auk, puffin, snow owl, and about 54 other species
Late Arrival: The Peopling of the Arctic
- Arctic populated because of harsh environment.
- unclear if migration into North America occurred from the south or if people came across the ice and waters of Siberia.
- After initial migration into North America archaeologists identified three separate northerly migrations.
- (1)- 11,000 years ago into Yukon and Alaska
- (2)- 8000 years ago into the Barren Grounds west of Hudson Bay
- (3)- 9000 years ago along the Atlantic coast.
Arctic Small Tools Tradition (ASTt)
- distinctive micro-lithic industry penetrates the Arctic Circle.
- Characterized by micro-blades, scrapers, and burins as small as 2 centimeters
- Origins are unclear.
- Two major traditions:
- Independence I Culture of the High Arctic, and Pre-Dorset of the Low Arctic.
Independence I (2000-1700)
- defined by Eigil Knuth (1903-1996) discovered evidence of early occupation along the beaches.
- apart of Danish Pearyland Expedition to Independence Fjord in 1948
- 1st evidence of human occupation in the arctic
- Evidence included microliths, bone needles, and hearths.
- Independence I camps identified on Ellesmere, Devon, and Cornwallis islands in the Canadian High Arctic.
- small camps consisting of small box-shaped hearth made from stone slabs set upright on a gravel beach.
- In a few cases a second row of slabs have been erected and the gravel between them
- and the hearth smoothed over to make sleeping areas, with a narrow rim of gravel forming a perimeter to hold down a tent or skin shelter.
- Dispersed distribution of short-term campsites.
- Port Refuge, Devon Island, has over 100 camps along 20 kilometers.
identifiable in the high arctic because of lack of vegetation and biomass to push the materials underground
Pre-Dorset 1700-800 BC
- Centered in the region of northern Hudson Bay, Hudson Strait, and Foxe Basin, which is a much richer biosphere.
- Considered ancestral to the later Dorset cultures of the eastern Arctic.
- In comparison to Independence I, Pre-Dorset microblades and burins are smaller, occasionally ground or polished on one surface.
- harpoon tools change - more rigorous
- In this they resemble materials from western Alaska, suggesting an early migration eastwards around 2000 BC.
- Camp sites change to more clustered and more circular features, often with boulders to hold down the tent structure
- Soap-stone lamps used to burn blubber.