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Dry Creek Revisited: New Excavations, Radiocarbon Dates, and Site Formation Inform on the Peopling of Eastern Beringia

  • Kelly E. Graf (a1), Lyndsay M. DiPietro (a2), Kathryn E. Krasinski (a3), Angela K. Gore (a1), Heather L. Smith (a1), Brendan J. Culleton (a4), Douglas J. Kennett (a4) and David Rhode (a5)...

Abstract

The multicomponent Dry Creek site, located in the Nenana Valley, central Alaska, is arguably one of the most important archaeological sites in Beringia. Original work in the 1970s identified two separate cultural layers, called Components 1 and 2, thought to date to the terminal Pleistocene and suggesting that the site was visited by Upper Paleolithic huntergatherers between about 13,000 and 12,000 calendar years before present (cal B.P.). The oldest of these became the typeassemblage for the Nenana complex. Recently, some have questioned the geoarchaeological integrity of the site's early deposits, suggesting that the separated cultural layers resulted from natural postdepositional disturbances. In 2011, we revisited Dry Creek to independently assess the site's age and formation. Here we present our findings and reaffirm original interpretations of clear separation of two terminal Pleistocene cultural occupations. For the first time, we report direct radiocarbon dates on cultural features associated with both occupation zones, one dating to 13,485-13,305 and the other to 11,060-10,590 cal B.P.

Résumé

El sitio de múltiples componentes de Dry Creek ubicado en el valle de Nenana, Alaska central, es sin duda uno de los sitios arqueológicos mas importantes de Beringia. En el trabajo original se identificaron dos capas culturales independientes, los componentes 1 y2 , que datan del Pleistoceno Terminal y se estableció que el sitio fue visitadopor cazadores-recolectores del Paleolítico superior hace aproximadamente 13.000 y 12.000 años calendáricos antes delpresente (cal a.P.). Desde entonces varios investigadores han puesto en duda la integridad geoarqueológica de los depósitos tempranos del sitio, y sugirieron que la separación de las capas culturales es el resultado de procesos postdeposicionales. En 2011 volvimos a visitor Dry Creek para llevar a cabo un estudio integral de las fechas y de los procesos de formación del sitio. En este trabajo presentamos nuestras conclusiones y reafirmamos las interpretaciones originates acerca de la existencia de una clara separación de dos ocupaciones culturales del Pleistoceno terminal. Por primera vez, se presentan fechas directas de radiocarbono sobre los rasgos culturales asociados con cada uno de estos dos eventos de ocupación, uno datado en 13,485-13,305 y el otro de 11,060-10,590 cal a.P.

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