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Undergraduate Research Project Management System

Archaeobotany of the Central Aleutian Islands

Status Current
Seeking Researchers No
Start Date 01/01/2011
End Date 06/01/2012
Funding Source Undergraduate Research Grant
Funding Amount
Community Partner
Related Course
Last Updated 03/25/2012 02:55PM
Keywords archaeobotany, aleutian

People

Faculty
  Diane Hanson

Student Researchers
  Holly Thorssin

Abstract

Few resources document Meut or Unangan plant use before Russian contact, emphasizing the need for multiple lines of evidence to understand Meut subsistence. What we can gather from written histories, plants contributed to Uncmgan subsistence providing variety to the diet, nutrients, favorite foods at winter festivals, medicine, and significance in cleansing, hunting, and menstruation rituals. Archaeological evidence supplements ethnohistorical sources and provides the potential to develop new data about Unangan subsistence and storage strategies. In 2011, University of Alaska Anchorage archaeologists conducted the only excavation to date of an upland house in the Aleutian Islands, partly with the intention of recovering plant remains. The goal of this project is to analyze plant remains collected in sediment samples from the house floor to determine the season of year the house was occupied, the plants used, and the processing activities that took place in the house. These data will ultimately be compared to samples from a coastal site to determine if activities from the upland site are different. The objectives of the proposed project are to become trained to identify micro and macrobotanical remains from an archaeological context, and to analyze plant remains recovered in floor samples and a storage feature from the upland site on Adak Island. Training in methods of macro and micro plant particle identification would also be applicable to other Alaskan research. In a place where coastal settlement and resources have defmed research until recently, materials from the first inland and upland excavation may provide an opportunity to redefine our understanding of Unangan settlement and subsistence on the landscape.

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