The adoption of pottery into the New World: exploring pottery function and dispersal in Southwest Alaska through organic residue analysis

Marjolein Admiraal

Research output: ThesisThesis fully internal (DIV)

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In this PhD project the first use of pottery by prehistoric peoples in Alaska was researched through lipid residue analysis and isotope analysis. Pottery was first invented by hunter-gatherers in East Asia some 20,000 years ago. Recent research shows that early pottery was often used to process aquatic species. In the (sub)Arctic, pottery was not adopted until 3,000 years ago. The presence of pottery in this extreme environment seems out of place. What drove the adoption of pottery into this region?
This research has shown that, much like the earlier pottery in East Asia, Alaskan pottery was mainly used to process aquatic species. An interesting pattern shows differences between the earliest pottery in Alaska, which was used to process salmon, and the later pottery that was used to process sea mammals. This pattern seems to extend to Siberia, where early pottery sites are mainly found along large rivers. It is possible that pottery technology spread along the river systems of Northeast Asia into Alaska. In Alaska the dispersal event was delayed significantly on Kodiak Island, where the technology was only partly adopted at around 500 years ago, and finally terminated with the introduction of Russian cooking kettles during contact times.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Groningen
  • Jordan, Peter, Supervisor
  • Craig, Oliver E., Supervisor, External person
  • van der Plicht, Johannes, Assessment committee
Award date12-May-2020
Place of Publication[Groningen]
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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