Origins and Development of Arctic Maritime Adaptations in the Western Subarctic.

Fitzhugh, Ben. 2016.  “Origins and Development of Arctic Maritime Adaptations in the Western Subarctic.” Oxford Handbook of the Prehistoric Arctic, edited by T. Max Friesen and Owen K Mason.  Oxford: Oxford University Press. (DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199766956.013.20)

This chapter explores the antiquity and evolution of Subarctic maritime traditions in the
Beringian North Pacific—precursors of maritime cultures that ultimately pushed north
and east across the Canadian and Greenlandic Arctic. Boat-based, maritime economies
and settlement show up by the Pleistocene-Holocene transition in the relatively warm
Subarctic Northeast Pacific (Gulf of Alaska and Aleutians) but appear delayed by 5,000 or
more years in the Northwest Pacific and Bering and Chukchi seas. Potential biases of
preservation and research histories are examined and dismissed, and two environmental
models are proposed to explain the delay (or disruption) of maritime settlement in the
seasonally frozen Okhotsk, Bering, and Chukchi seas. Late Holocene maritime traditions
intensify and converge in all regions of the Subarctic and Arctic Pacific over the past
2,000–3,000 years, forging a common ecological, economic, technological, and social
orientation, where none had previously existed.
Keywords: maritime, Subarctic, Beringia, North Pacific, Paleo-Arctic, boats

Status of Research