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Prehistoric Colonization of Southcentral Alaska: Human Adaptations in a Post Glacial World
AuthorWygal, Brian T.
AdvisorHaynes, Gary A.
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This dissertation presents results from four recently discovered archeological sites in southcentral Alaska. The sites range from the Younger Dryas to middle Holocene in age and provide valuable contextual information for the human process of colonizing a region that was heavily glaciated during the LGM. The deglaciation and human colonization of southcentral Alaska is one of the most significant aspects of the settling phase in eastern Beringia not only for its potential to inform about the human response to post-glacial landscapes but also for what we can learn about subsequent migrations to the southern coast of Alaska.Understanding how early foraging societies spread throughout eastern Beringia, after its initial colonization, requires new models for and approaches to the interpretation of technological variability, especially the enigmatic microblade industries that represent an essential subset of nearly all of the northern prehistoric toolkits. This work presents an ecological approach to the interpretation of assemblage variability in central and southcentral Alaska. Climate and seasonal changes had significant impacts on small-scale foraging societies and undoubtedly played a decisive role in the successes and failures of the earliest Alaskans. This was certainly the case during transition from the Pleistocene to Holocene as major climatic oscillations were underway and foothold communities north of the Alaska Range began dispersing south into the recently deglaciated territories of southcentral Alaska.