Thank you for visiting the website to learn a little more about the Beringian Cultural Exchange Project, and taking the time to provide us with some feedback about how you want to learn more about our research.
Archaeologists engage with the past through many avenues, including looking closely at one type of material. In this case, we want to look closely at ceramic technology. Ceramics can tell us about how people interacted with one another, and how they moved through and lived in the landscape. Archaeologists call these complex relationships to people (within their own group, and with other groups) and places “interaction networks”
Through prior research, we learned that ceramics were an important part of Beringian social networks over the last 1000 years, and those networks changed over time when people changed where and how they lived. Because we already know that people interacted and maintained many types of connections, we want to know more about how thet were connected, and how they sustained extensive and expansive interaction networks across the region over the last 2,500 years, despite significant cultural ecological change during the time period.
Other Questions we Want to Ask:
- What is the geography of interaction networks before 1000 years ago?
- How far did people travel across the region during their annual movements? How might these movements have changed over time?
- Were ceramics themselves imported from eastern Beringia/Russia? Or, was ceramic exchange across the Strait limited to exchange of technological and stylistic ideas?
- How do ceramic exchange networks compare to what we know about exchange of other materials (e.g. metal, obsidian) across Beringia?
Using ceramic analysis we want to ask, “What is the geography of Beringian interaction networks in the past and how did these change over time?”
We are comparing the chemical and mineral composition of pottery from the Beringia and analyzing potential connections to known and probable pottery production regions by studying pottery from archaeological sites across the region. In addition to looking at ceramic styles, we are using Instrumental Neutron Activation (INAA) and ceramic petrography. INAA measures the abundance of different geochemicals in pottery and clay; and ceramic petrography. Ceramic petrography focuses on the mineral inclusions of ceramics that can be added to the clay as temper by the potter or are part of the natural clay itself. We then use statistics to look for patterns in these data and connect that information to probable source areas and help us understand how ceramic technological information is shared, and learn more about the ceramics themselves.
How It’s Going
During the 2019-2020 season we traveled to museum collections in Fairbanks, Europe and the Lower 48 to select samples for analysis. COVID-19 put our sourcing analysis on hold, however, we are working on other technological analysis. These data will be combined with prior research and petrographic results to assess differences/similarities in ceramic vessel styles and technology (paste recipes, production techniques). To date, we have analyzed 1388 ceramic samples from 43 archaeological sites.
Russian Language Translation
Share Your Thoughts
It is important for us to share what we learn from this project with you and your community in a way that is informative, entertaining, and meaningful. We’d love to hear your ideas about the best ways to get our results to you.
Some ideas so far:
- An online learning module
- Public lectures or workshops (in person or online)
- Posters or brochures
Use the form below to share your ideas, or even just to ask us questions about the project, or share what you know about ceramic technology! We can’t wait to hear from you.