Volcanoes and Settlement in the North Pacific.

Fitzhugh, Ben, Caroline Funk, Jody Bourgeois. 2019  “Volcanoes and Settlement in the North Pacific: Late Holocene Settlement Patterns in the Western Aleutian and Kuril Islands.” In, Tephroarchaeology in the North Pacific, edited by Barnes, Gina L. & Soda, Tsutomu. Oxford: Archaeopress. Pp. 76-96.

Archaeologists working around the North Pacific ‘Ring of Fire’ frequently invoke volcanic events in archaeological interpretations of regional abandonment. The Aleutian and Kuril archipelagos stretch for thousands of kilometres around the subarctic North Pacific Rim. Both chains are volcanic and tectonic in origin and are exposed regularly to volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and tsunamis. Despite these hazards, humans have settled and survived in both chains for thousands of years. Unangan (Aleut) ancestors have a more or less unbroken 6500-year history of occupation in the central and western Aleutian Islands but even longer on the eastern islands in the archipelago. By contrast the central Kuril Islands appear to have been depopulated twice in the late Holocene. We explore the hypotheses that these different occupational histories are related to marked regional differences in the proximity of active volcanoes.

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