University of Southampton OCS (beta), CAA 2012

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Lost Worlds: A predictive model to locate submerged archaeological sites in SE Alaska, USA
Kelly R Monteleone, E. James Dixon

Last modified: 2011-12-17


This project tests the hypothesis that the archaeological record of Southeast Alaska extends to areas of the continental shelf that were submerged by post-Pleistocene sea level rise beginning around 10,600 BP (9,400 RCYBP).  The archaeological record of the northern Northwest Coast (NWC) extends to approximately 12,200 BP (10,300 RCYBP) (Fedje et al. 2004:116); however, much of the habitable area dating older than 10,600 BP (9,400 RCYBP) is now submerged.  Recent research indicates Southeast Alaska and western British Columbia were largely glaciated beginning around 21,000 to 17,000 BP (18,000 to 14,000 RCYBP) albeit with refugia (unglaciated areas) existing along the coast (Carrara et al. 2003, 2007, Clague et al. 2004).  By 16,000 BP (13,500 RCYBP) much of the region was deglaciated and ecologically viable for human habitation, although a few valley glaciers from the Coast Mountain Range still extended to the coast (Carrara et al. 2007; Clague et al. 2004: 94, Mathews 1979).

This project develops and tests a predictive model to identify high potential areas for the occurrence and preservation of archaeological sites on the continental shelf of Southeast Alaska.  The model uses archaeological, historic, and ethnographic site location information, combined with statistical analysis of the archaeological site locations from the northern NWC, following the inductive and deductive techniques advanced by Verhagen and Whitley (2011). The relevant paleolandscapes are only partially visible in the modern landscape and are reconstructed on the continental shelf by integrating modern bathymetry (seafloor topography) and digital terrain model (DTM) data with sea level curves.  Results from a preliminary survey conducted in June 2010 suggest the model can identify ancient archeological sites on the continental shelf (Dixon and Monteleone 2011). 


Carrara, Ager, and Baichtal

2007.Possible refugee in the Alexander Archipelago of southeastern Alaska during the late Wisconsin glaciation. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, 44: pg.229-244

Carrara, Ager, Baichtal, and VanSistine

2003.Map of Glacial Limits and Possible Refugia in the Southern Alexander Archipelago, Alaska, During the Late Wisconsin Glaciation. USGS, Denver

Clague, Mathewes, and Ager

2004.Environments of Northwestern North America before the Last Glacial Maximum.   In Entering America: Northeast Asia and Beringia before the Last Glacial Maximum, ed. Madsen. University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City: pg. 63-94

Dixon and Monteleone

2011. Final Report for Gateway to the Americas (2010-02).  Report on file with Alaska SHPO Office, Anchorage

Fedje, Mackie, Dixon, and Heaton

2004.Late Wisconsin Environments and Archaeological Visibility on the Northern Northwest Coast.   In Entering America: Northeast Asia and Beringia before the Last Glacial Maximum, ed. Madsen. University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City: pg.97-138


1979.Late Quaternary Environmental History affecting Human Habitation of the Pacific Northwest. CJA, 3: pg. 145-156

Verhagen and Whitley

2011.Integrating Archaeological Theory and Predictive Modeling. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory, 10.1007/s10816-011-9102-7: pg.1-52


underwater archaeology; predictive model; SE Alaska, USA; Landscape