Material culture across the Aleutian archipelago

Hum Biol. 2010 Dec;82(5-6):525-56. doi: 10.3378/027.082.0504.


The material evidence from sites across the Aleutian Islands reflects colonization events, subsequent adaptations, and influxes of ideas and/or people from the east. The occurrence in the eastern Aleutians of bifacial technology around 7000 BP, of artifacts similar to the Arctic Small Tool tradition between 4000 and 3500 BP, and of slate and jet objects around 1000 BP reflects repeated surges of influence or movement of peoples from further east into the eastern end of the chain. In the central and western Aleutians, influence or perhaps colonization from east of the Aleutians is also marked by the occurrence of bifacial technology about 6500 BP and the appearance of slate artifacts after 1000 BP, suggesting the movement of ideas or people from further east. Basic trends across the archipelago include a decrease in formal chipped-stone tools, an increase in the use and the complexity of bone technology, and the increase in use and variety of ground-stone tools. In addition, increasing village site sizes and denser midden deposits are seen later in time throughout the archipelago. The similarity in sites and assemblages, albeit with regional variations, reflects trends that are seen across the chain and indicates that these island communities were not isolated from one another or from mainland Alaska.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Archaeology / methods*
  • Arctic Regions
  • Asia, Eastern
  • Culture*
  • DNA, Mitochondrial
  • History, Ancient
  • Humans
  • Inuit / history
  • Inuit / statistics & numerical data
  • Population Groups / history
  • Population Groups / statistics & numerical data


  • DNA, Mitochondrial