TIS THE SEASON: AN EXPERIMENTAL EXAMINATION OF TOOLKIT VARIABILITY, LATE PLEISTOCENE- EARLY HOLOCENE INTERIOR ALASKA
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Simultaneous use of two distinct projectile technologies in interior Alaska, during the end of the Pleistocene and early Holocene, is a study domain that has generated many diverse hypotheses. Some researchers view the presence of these technologies as representing distinct techno-complexes based on diagnostic artifact types. However, others believe that they represent technologies to negotiate specific tasks at hand (e.g., prey type, seasonal use). This dissertation explores several artifact variables and human decision-making characteristics associated with task-specific hypotheses for the occurrence of these two projectile point types. Archaeological and ethnographic data along with a correspondence analysis were used to examine the possibility that seasonality may have been a factor in why two different projectile technologies were used at various locations and times. To further explore the possibility a series of experiments were conducted to test the hypothesis that seasonality might be reflected in artifact durability under extreme cold conditions. Results of the projectile point experiments showed no advantage to either projectile point technology based upon extreme cold conditions. However, this finding does not negate the seasonality hypothesis. It does, however, rule out durability under extreme cold as a reason to adjust projectile technology. Finally, a technological investment model was proposed using ethnographic, archaeological, experimental, and environmental data to further explore the possibility of seasonality as a cause for different projectile point technological use. Results of this analysis suggest that several alternative factors may have influenced the use of different projectile point types. Experimentally it was demonstrated that inset projectile points are more costly to manufacture than stone points, but are much more durable at impact, whereas stone projectiles are less expensive but not as durable. Based on this research, much costlier inset projectile technology was likely used in the context of communal hunting during the fall, where herd animals were put in a disadvantaged state, and multiple animals were procured through the use of a thrusting spear. Stone points, on the other hand, were cheaper to manufacture and were used for hunting solitary animals with a bow and arrow or atlatl.