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THREE GENERATIONS UNDER ONE ROOF? BAYESIAN MODELING OF RADIOCARBON DATA FROM NUNALLEQ, YUKON-KUSKOKWIM DELTA, ALASKA

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 May 2018

Paul M. Ledger*
Affiliation:
Department of Archaeology, School of Geosciences, University of Aberdeen, Elphinstone Road, Aberdeen AB24 3UF, UK
Véronique Forbes
Affiliation:
Department of Archaeology, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Queen's College, Prince Philip Drive, St. John's, Newfoundland, A1B 3R6, Canada Université de Bordeaux, PACEA, UMR 5199, Bâtiment B8, Allée Geoffroy Saint Hilaire, CS 50023, 33615 Pessac CEDEX, France
Edouard Masson-Maclean
Affiliation:
Department of Archaeology, School of Geosciences, University of Aberdeen, Elphinstone Road, Aberdeen AB24 3UF, UK
Charlotta Hillerdal
Affiliation:
Department of Archaeology, School of Geosciences, University of Aberdeen, Elphinstone Road, Aberdeen AB24 3UF, UK
W. Derek Hamilton
Affiliation:
Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre, University of Glasgow, Rankine Avenue, East Kilbride, G75 0QF, Scotland, UK
Ellen McManus-Fry
Affiliation:
Department of Archaeology, School of Geosciences, University of Aberdeen, Elphinstone Road, Aberdeen AB24 3UF, UK
Ana Jorge
Affiliation:
Department of Archaeology, School of Geosciences, University of Aberdeen, Elphinstone Road, Aberdeen AB24 3UF, UK
Kate Britton
Affiliation:
Departament of Archaeology, University of Aberdeen, Elphinstone Road, Aberdeen AB24 3UF, UK Department of Human Evolution, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Deutscher Platz 6, 04103, Leipzig, Germany
Richard A. Knecht
Affiliation:
Department of Archaeology, School of Geosciences, University of Aberdeen, Elphinstone Road, Aberdeen AB24 3UF, UK
*
(p.ledger@abdn.ac.uk, corresponding author)

Abstract

This article presents the results of a program of radiocarbon dating and Bayesian modeling from the precontact Yup'ik site of Nunalleq (GDN-248) in subarctic southwestern Alaska. Nunalleq is deeply stratified, presenting a robust relative chronological framework of well-defined individual house floors abundant in ecofacts suitable for radiocarbon dating. Capitalizing on this potential, we present the results of one of the first applications of Bayesian statistical modeling of radiocarbon data from an archaeological site in the North American Arctic. Using these methods, we demonstrate that it is possible to generate robust, high-resolution chronological models from Arctic archaeology. Radiocarbon dates, procured prior to the program of dating and modeling presented here, suggested an approximately three-century duration of occupation at the site. The results of Bayesian modeling nuance this interpretation. While it is possible that there may have been activity for almost three centuries (beginning in the late fourteenth century), occupation of the dwelling complex, which dominates the site, was more likely to have endured for no more than a century. The results presented here suggest that the occupation of Nunalleq likely encompassed three generations beginning cal AD 1570–1630 before being curtailed by conflict around cal AD 1645–1675.

En este artículo se presentan los resultados de un programa de datación radiocarbónica y modelización bayesiana del sitio de Nunalleq, un yacimiento Yup'ik pre-contacto en el sudoeste sub-ártico de Alaska. Nunalleq es un yacimiento fuertemente estratificado que presenta una secuencia ocupacional compleja consistente en una serie de pisos de habitación individualizados, todos ellos contenientes abundantes ecofactos susceptibles de ser datados por radiocarbono. Explotando ese potencial, presentamos los resultados de una de las primeras aplicaciones de la modelización estadística bayesiana sobre datos radiocarbónicos para un yacimiento arqueológico del Ártico norteamericano. A través del uso de estos métodos demostramos que es posible generar modelos cronológicos consistentes y de alta resolución a partir de la arqueología del Ártico. Datos radiocarbónicos anteriores sugerían una duración de aproximadamente tres siglos para la ocupación del yacimiento. Los resultados de la modelización bayesiana matizan esta interpretación. Si bien es posible que haya habido actividad durante casi tres siglos (comenzando a finales del siglo catorce), parece más probable que la ocupación del complejo habitacional, mismo que domina el yacimiento, no haya durado más de un siglo. Los resultados expuestos en este trabajo sugieren que la ocupación de Nunalleq probablemente haya abarcado tres generaciones, comenzando en 1570–1630 cal dC y siendo truncada por un episodio bélico en torno a 1645–1675 cal dC.

Type
Reports
Copyright
Copyright © 2018 by the Society for American Archaeology 

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