M.A. Theses: Ian Robert Wilson, 1977

Archaeological Investigations At the Atigun Site, Central Brooks Range, Alaska.


This thesis is an archaeological analysis of the Atigun site and is based on work conducted in 1973 and 1974 on the North Slope of the Central Brooks Range, Alaska. The excavations add significant information concerning the later prehistory and subsistence activities of the area.

The site consisted of a series of discrete occupation levels containing faunal and lithic debris scattered around a hearth. The primary concern of analysis is the cultural affiliation of the occupations, and to this end, artifacts, chipping debris and faunal remains are examined. Site activities are discussed in detail using the results of this analysis. Because the site is historically and archaeologically marginal to both Indian and Eskimo territory, ethnographic accounts of both groups are given to aid in the identification of its prehistoric inhabitants. Archaeological comparisons are made with sites in Alaska, the Yukon, the Northwest Territories and B.C. A re-evaluation of the prehistory of the Central Brooks Range is outlined, based on recent archaeological work and the results of the new data reported in this thesis.

Conclusions point to a late summer occupation of the site by Athapascans probably seeking ground squirrel hides. The site was occupied seasonally between A.D. 1400-1800, and represents a major late-prehistoric Indian incursion throughout the Brooks Range. This period is defined as the Kavik Phase. Finally, it is suggested that boundaries between Indians and Eskimos in the Central Brooks Range have periodically shifted through time, largely due to environmental factors.