ICAP Kamchatka

Main Objectives

To determine the similarities in environmental (particularly climate) change experienced by the prehistoric inhabitants of the Kamchatka Peninsula relative to those of James Bay (Old Factory Lake pal eo-estuary) and Northern Finland (Yli paleo-estuary), to determine the nature of the resultant social change, to clarify regional chronologies and investigate further evidence for the Beringian peopling of the Americas.


One characteristic of the east coast of the Kamchatka Peninsula is its incredibly high concentration of active volcanoes. Not only do the North American and Pacific Plates intersect here, but within the project area, the North American Plate appears to consist of tectonically-independent Bering and Okhotsk blocks (Martin et al. 2008; Pedoja et al. 2006). The volcanoes occur at the intersection of these plates. Kliuchevskoi Volcano, 100 km to the southwest of Nerpichnye Lake and 45 kilometers east of Ushki, is the largest active volcano in the northern hemisphere. Shiveluch Volcano, 65 kilometers to the west of Nerpichnye Lake, is responsible for most of the volcanic ash layers (tephra) in the project area. Tsunamis are a regular occurrence resulting from seismic activity along the Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea coastline (Bourgeois et al. 2006). The lake is sheltered from tsunami activity, and the sites discussed in this report are on elevated lake terraces and hills, well above the highest water mark. Preliminary evidence from our first field season suggests that eruptions were a regular occurrence for people in the Nerpichnye Lake area during the mid-Holocene, as they are today. In Figure 1, note the volcanic plume extending from Shiveluch Volcano across to the project area (yellow box).

Volcanic eruptions need not have catastrophic consequences for people living nearby. However, a major eruption, or eruption-triggered tsunami, leading to abandonment of an area is reflected in the archaeological record as a hiatus followed by a marked culture change (Neall et al. 2008; Hall and Mothes 2008; Begét et al. 2008; Torrence et al. 2009; Grattan 2006). Increased soil fertility, proximity to raw materials such as obsidian (Torrence et al. 2009), and access to geothermal energy (Grattan 2006) may balance out the risks associated with living in a volcanic zone. The impact of tectonic activity on communities is mediated by the type of event (for example, various forms of volcanic ejecta, tsunamis, and seismic uplift), and by community mobility, and integration into a regional support network (Neall et al. 2008; Torrence et al. 2009; Ort et al. 2008) . State societies address problems by rerouting economic activity around the impacted area (Grattan 2006), even though eruptions typically have catastrophic consequences for communities who depend on threatened agricultural areas (Ort et al. 2008). As a result, early urban agricultural centers flourished in volcanically-active areas in Central America and the Mediterranean (Grattan 2006). Catastrophic eruptions may even increase population nucleation as refugees flee to urban centers (Plunket and Uruñuela 2006, 2008).

States may thrive in the face of adversity, but individual communities fare better when authority is de-centralized and the economic base is flexible (Sheets et al. 1991). Neall et al (Neall et al. 2008) suggest that frequent eruptions encourage mobility and limit the ability of a community to aggregate for long periods of time. A tectonically-active environment favors minimal investment in architecture, minimal hierarchy, and geographically-scattered friends and relatives, so that settlements may be abandoned rapidly, if only temporarily. As a result, the community suffers minimal loss (Ort et al. 2008; Torrence et al. 2009). Mobility is a critical factor, because in a small area, even minor or distant eruptions can make life challenging. Respiratory illness results when people inhale airborne tephra particles during a “tephra fall” event, when airborne volcanic ash settles out of the atmosphere (Martin et al. 2009). A moderate (3-8 centimeter) tephra fall smothers broad-leafed plants (Neall et al. 2008) and contaminates fresh water sources (Stewart et al. 2006), although marine life will not be significantly impacted (Neall et al. 2008). However, marine life will suffer as a result of tsunamis and seismic uplift along the coast (Losey 2005). Even with such risks, communities have remained in place, with limitations on their ordinary routines, despite tephra falls of up to 20 centimeters (Neall et al. 2008; Grattan2006). Thus, the ability of a community to remain in place depends on the availability of food and fresh water, which in turn is dependent upon environmental conditions shaped by volcanic activity and climate, as well as social networks that permit food and fresh water to be brought in from elsewhere.


The Kultuk and Izvilisty archaeological sites are located at high points in the landscape. Torrence et al (2009) provide a pragmatic reason. They note that for the past 10,000 years in New Guinea, communities have preferentially resettled high points after an eruption. There are two related reasons: lower elevations are unstable because of redeposited eroded tephra, and high points experience tephra erosion first. They quickly return to their original ground surface and vegetation.


Previously, archaeological remains were not recognized in the Izvilisty project area. The hilltop sits just north of the narrow but deep Izvilisty River. Dikov ([1977] 2003) identified structural depressions 10 kilometers to the west, along a tributary of the Kamchatka River, and the next closest known prehistoric remains lie 40 kilometers to the northeast at Kultuk Point (Ponomarenko 2000). On the hilltop are three shallow circular depressions in a row, each measuring 6 meters in diameter. Test Pit 5 and Unit 1 were excavated in the center of the middle depression. This excavation revealed persistent re-use of a hearth feature over a very long period of time and three distinct cultural strata separated by thick tephra layers. The lowermost cultural stratum reflects two different occupation surfaces, one lying just on top of the other. These occupation surfaces are characterized by dense scatters of lithics and appear to be contemporary with the possible SHdv tephra (4100 BP).


The extensive archaeological remains at Kultuk are described by Ponomarenko (2000). The 2009 team investigated three points along a series of depression clusters, along the edge of the terrace at Kultuk Point. Test Pit 1 is located at the edge of a large cluster of approximately10 depressions on the high terrace at Kultuk Point. Test Pit 2 is located within one of a cluster of four depressions on a small intermediate terrace above the site of the old village of Kultuk. Test Pit 3 is located within one of a row of approximately four depressions on the high terrace above the site of the old village of Kultuk. Test Pit 4 is located in the side of one of a cluster of approximately three depressions on the high terrace north of the old village of Kultuk. Both Test Pit 1 and Test Pit 4 were dug near very deep depressions of the type described as “Late Neolithic” by Ponomarenko (2000) and Dikov ([1977] 2003). Test Pit 4 did indeed contain a very deep cultural stratum above the likely KS1 tephra, which would date the occupation to post-1800 BP. Test Pit 1 contained cultural strata both above and below the possible SHdv tephra. This indicates an early occupation predating 4100 BP. and suggests that while large, deep depressions are characteristic of the Late Neolithic, they can overlap with much earlier occupations in the same area.


One of the most famous sites in Northeast Asia, and certainly one of the most discussed in relation to New World migration, is Ushki. Discovered by Nikolai Dikov in 1961, it is actually a locus of 5 sites (Ushki 1-5) on the Kamchatka peninsula (Dikov 2003: 32). They are nestled on the shore of the Ushki Lake, just off of the Kamchatka River. These multicomponent sites were and are extremely important, as they marked the first discovery of pre-Neolithic occupation in Northeast Asia, which Dikov terms penetrating the “Neolithic boundary” (Dikov 2003: 13). Moreover, the layers seem well-sealed and defined. Seven cultural layers are present at Ushki 1 and 5, and are numbered I-VII from top to bottom. Layers V-VII are Paleolithic, while the top layers (I-IV) Neolithic. These strata are distinctly interbedded with sterile and tephra layers (Dikov 1996: 244). He indicates that lake flood levels reach as high as stratum IV when at peak (Dikov 2003: 33).

In the deepest Paleolithic layer VII, Dikov found a rich array of artifacts, including stemmed lithic points, stone beads, and pendants. He also found a burial, associated with beads and red ocher, along with hearths and oval sunken houses (Dikov 2003: 39). In the higher Paleolithic layer VI, he found at least two different kinds of structure types, also including pit dwellings with hearths, as well as postholes (Dikov 2003: 44), and not incorporating the “usual covering for Paleolithic houses,” large mammal bones. He also found microblades and wedge-shaped cores, along with bifaces and scrapers (Dikov 2003: 45). Thus, the lithic culture completely and abruptly changes from level VII to level VI in both Ushki 1 and 5 (Fig. 2). Dikov tied the upper Paleolithic levels V and VI to the Dyuktai culture within the larger Beringian tradition, due to the similar microblade technology (Dikov 1996: 244). The lower level VII, however, with its stemmed points, does not correlate with other lithic industries anywhere in the region (Slobodin 2001: 36).

Ushki was originally dated by Dikov using both radiocarbon and tephrochronology (Dikov 1996: 244). As mentioned above, the region is very volcanically and tectonically active. Tephra, or ash layers from volcanic eruptions, were used for “cross-dating and in establishing the integrity of the archaeological levels”(Dikov 1996: 244), such as when correlating levels between Ushki 1 through 5. Dikov dated the earliest layer, layer VII, to 14800 BC (Goebel 2003: 502). Dikov recognizes the importance of the early date to the migration to the New World, and suggests level VII is possibly connected to Paleoindians in the Americas (Dikov 2003: 29; 1996: 250). Significantly predating Clovis and even predating the controversial Monte Verde site in South America, this early date presented a crucial connection between Siberia and the Americas. This interpretation was also useful in supporting the coastal Bering Land Bridge theory of the migration (Goebel 2003: 502).

However, Dikov’s dating of the site has been challenged. Dikov’s methods and conclusions have been questioned, especially because he unfortunately did not get a chance to fully publish his results before his death (Goebel 2003: 502). In particular, Mochanov postulated that ancient carbon held in the groundwater had contaminated the dating (Renfrew and Bahn 2008: 145). Mochanov also argued that the lack of cryoturbation visible in the stratigraphy indicated that it could not pre date the Holocene, as the Ice Age would surely have left its mark on the soil (Goebel at al 2003: 502). In addition, Vasil’ev et al describe that there are “disappointing inaccuracies in numerous writings by Dikov on the enumeration of cultural horizons, provenance of samples for 14C determinations” (2002: 512). For example, his stratigraphic profiles indicate where charcoal and hearths were found, but do not clearly indicate exactly where particular samples were found and what dates were derived from them (see Dikov 2003: 43, 53, 57). Furthermore, doubt is placed regarding the unique culture there that varies significantly from most other Siberian sites, as well as those in the Americas (Vasil’ev et al 2002: 512).

These challenges were heard and acted upon by Ted Goebel, who began excavating at Ushki again in 2000. Goebel confirmed that “components 7 and 6 represent discrete occupations that are separated in time” and by 30 centimeters of alluvium (Goebel 2003: 502). Moreover, his cultural assessment is concordant with Dikov’s, although he prefers to term the layer 7 lithics as “notched” rather than “stemmed” points (Goebel 2003: 503). He and his team also importantly resample the sites for new radiocarbon dating, utilizing correlated material from several different profiles and taking multiple samples in each context for a total of 15 samples (Goebel 2003: 502). In order to evaluate the possibility of contamination by older groundwater carbon, they separate the samples into soluble and insoluble fractions, and consequently derive very similar dates from both. This indicates that older soluble organics were not a contaminating factor (Goebel 2003: 502). But, regardless, the new radiocarbon date for the all-important layer VII is 11000 BC, almost 4000 years younger than Dikov’s determined (Goebel 2003: 503).

This radically challenges Ushki’s place as a precursor to North American cultures, as Clovis peaks at around the same time of 11000 BC. Furthermore, it becomes impossible to provide an antecedent to the even earlier pre-Clovis sites with such a late occupation in Siberia (Goebel 2003: 504). However, Goebel still sees possible connections to the New World (Fig. 3). In central Alaska there was similar abrupt change in lithic technology with a microblade overlying non-microblade industry (Goebel 2003: 504). He potentially connects layer VII to the Nenana culture there, due to similar typology and chronology (Goebel 2003: 503). Goebel argues that layer VI, which he still correlates with at least the end of Dyuktai culture, possible ties to the Denali culture in Alaska. Moreover, he suggests that the abrupt change in both Siberia and Alaska from nonmicroblade to microblade industries likely indicates a second wave of migration rather than adaptation of technology to new climatic conditions (Goebel 2003: 504). He is tentative in all of these correlations, however, and calls for necessary further research.

Prior Fieldwork

Little archaeological survey and even less excavation has taken place within the project area, although the Kamchatka Peninsula has been the subject of archaeological investigation since the mid-1800s (Dikov [1977] 2003). In 1910 and 1911 three separate large-scale survey and excavation projects were conducted throughout Kamchatka. These projects resulted in the identification of new sites both on the coast and inland. The excavations were limited to sites containing deep pits, which represented the remains of Late Neolithic pit houses (Dikov 1965; Dikov [1977] 2003; Quimby 1947). The American Museum of Natural History’s Jesup Expedition did a thorough ethnological survey of Kamchatka and Chukotka between 1897 and 1902, but archaeological exploration was restricted to the Amur River valley, some 1800 kilometers to the southwest (Fowke 1906).

During Soviet times archaeological work in Kamchatka intensified as a result of the formation of the Soviet Academy of Sciences and in particular its Siberian branch located in Novosibirsk. The first explorations of earlier Neolithic sites took place in the 1920’s and 30’s. The excavation of Early Neolithic and Mesolithic age sites in Alaska in the 1950s influenced the direction of research conducted in the Russian Far East. Major archaeological surveys of both Chukotka and Kamchatka in the late 1950’s and 1960’s resulted in the discovery of Early Neolithic sites (Dikov 1965; Dikov [1977] 2003). In 1961 Nikolai Dikov performed the first systematic survey in Kamchatka with the aim of finding earlier Neolithic sites along the Kamchatka River. This survey identified Early Neolithic sites as well as the discovery of a Late Paleolithic site at Ushki Lake. Ushki was excavated by Nikolai Dikov, who was succeeded by Margarita Dikova in the 1990s. Other large-scale surveys were conducted in Southern Kamchatka in the early 1970’s, most notably by Dikova (Dikov [1977] 2003). Since the discovery of the Paleolithic in Kamchatka the focus of archaeological research in the peninsula has mainly been concerned with this earlier time period and its connection with the peopling of the Americas (Dikov 1968; Dikov 1978; Dikova 1983; Goebel et al. 2003).

With the beginning of this decade, there has been significant U.S. – Russian cooperation in Kamchatka in the excavations at Ushki Lake. Ted Goebel collaborated with Margarita Dikova on the Ushki excavation in 2000 (Goebel et al. 2003), and our colleague Irina Ponkratova is the present excavator of the Ushki Lake sites. The current project also draws on the experiences of a large scale archaeological and geological survey in the Kuril Islands to the south, led by Ben Fitzhugh, in cooperation with Russian and Japanese teams (Fitzhugh et al. 2002).

The majority of known sites in Kamchatka are where the mouths of major rivers meet the coast and are dated no older than 3000 B.P. These sites are characterized by numerous pit house depressions, representing the remains of dwelling depressions or yurts, dating to the Late Neolithic and the later Itel’men culture (Ponomarenko 1985). The material culture of these sites consists of maritime bone and stone artifacts, including flint blades and bone harpoons, as well as pottery.

The oldest sites in Kamchatka are located in the Kamchatka River valley, where the multi-component Ushki sites preserve Paleolithic, and Early, Middle, and Late Neolithic layers along the shore of Ushki Lake (Dikov 1965; Goebel et al. 2003; Kuzmin et al. 2008). The lithic artifacts of the Paleolithic sites in Kamchatka, “wedge shaped cores”, are similar to artifacts found from the same period as far as inland eastern Siberia in the west and Alaska in the east (Slobodin 2001; Clark 2001). Early assemblages in the Russian Far East have presented a challenge to archaeologists seeking regional typologies, as they appear to be linked to activities specific to each site, rather than to an overarching cultural tradition (Slobodin 2001). We revisit this challenge in later time periods as well, as the assemblages from the 2009 test units demonstrate.

The Early Neolithic of Kamchatka, dating from 7000 to 5000 BP, is characterized by lamellar blades and prismatic cores, burins, and projectile points of obsidian. During the Middle Neolithic, 4000 BP, the first pottery and ground axes appear along with various other stone tools such as knives and scrapers (Dikova 1983; Ponomarenko 1985; Ponomarenko 2000). Subsistence during this period was based mainly on fishing indicated by the large amount of fish bones found in sites. The exploitation of salmon runs during the preceding Paleolithic and Early Neolithic periods is the earliest type of maritime adaptation in the region (Workman and McCartney 1998). There was a gradual movement of populations making downriver to the coast (Orekhov et al. 1998; McCartney et al. 1998; Ackerman 1998).

By the Middle Neolithic period, maritime subsistence had intensified throughout the North Pacific, resulting in more sedentary coastal sites and a reliance on sea-mammal hunting. (Vasil’evskii et al. 1998; Knecht and Davis 2008; Lebedintsev 1998). During the Late Neolithic, 3000 BP, two different economies formed. Fishing was the predominant form of subsistence in central and southern Kamchatka while reindeer hunting developed in the north (Dikov 1965). Neolithic technology persisted in Kamchatka until about 700 A.D. (Kuzmin 2000).


How is it done?

Geological surveys of the Kamchatka River estuarine system, designed to identify events and process that have impacted the environment such as: Earthquakes, Tsunamis, Volcanic eruptions (ash fallout), Seismic uplift of marine terraces, Dating of seismically uplifted beach ridges via tephrachronology.

Archaeological surveys of the study area based on geological reconstruction of paleo-topography,designed to identify promising areas for more intensive study in subsequent field seasons. Identification of archaeological sites visible on the surface (pit-house type dwelling depressions), identification of areas where subsurface archaeological materials are likely to be preserved: Phosphate testing of soils, Ground penetrating Radar, Surface collection of artifacts, faunal remains, etc.

Site Methods

Archaeological investigations involved three different approaches to data collection. Surface inspection identified the locations of prehistoric structures. Shovel tests and controlled excavation confirmed the age of structures and buried features, based on tephra and collected charcoal samples. At Kultuk, four 30 centimeter diameter test pits (Test Pits 1, 2, 3, and 4) were excavated in 10 centimeter levels by shovel. All soil was screened using 0.5 centimeter mesh screen. After excavation, detailed stratigraphic notes were taken and soil samples were collected.

At Izvilisty one test pit (Test Pit 5) and one controlled 1 meter x 1 meter square unit (Unit 1) were excavated. At Test Pit 5 a similar technique was used (excavting 10 centimeter levels by shovel, screening all soil using 0.5 centimeter mesh, anddetailed stratigraphic notes and soil samples taken. Based on positive findings in Test Pit 5, a 1 meter by 1 meter unit was excavated in the same depression. The unit was excavated by 5 centimeter levels, and all soil and tephra removed from the unit were screened using 0.5 centimeter mesh screen. In situ artifacts were recorded using a total station. Cultural features that were identified during excavation were documented in the floor of each level and in the profile. Soil and tephra samples were collected from the excavation profile.

At Ushki V and Izvilisty, ground penetrating radar (GPR ) data were collected using a 3 meter antenna. Transect marks were placed at major changes in topography, but never more than two meters apart. The team collected profiles along seven transects at Izvilisty, and 17 transects at Ushki V. GPR profiles were collected along the edge of excavated units whenever possible, in order to compare GPR and excavated profiles to improve interpretation.

Ground Penetrating Radar

Ground penetrating radar has great potential for identifying deeply buried structures, because of changes in soil density caused by human occupation and by tephra fall. Pit features usually are more visible in GPR profiles than hearths because ash, charcoal, and baked soils do not offer significant dielectric contrasts (Kvamme and Ahler 2007). This conclusion is supported by the Izvilisty GPR profiles. The outline of a pit is clearly visible (Figure 7a). This pit was found to contain several layers of hearth material upon excavation (Figure 7b), but these are not visible in the GPR data.

Several GPR transects were collected at Ushki. Both were outside of the excavation area. They locate deeply buried dwelling structures and features that hopefully belong to the Ushki VI and VII cultural layers. They are within the excavated area and appear to identify hearth and pit features belonging to the Mesolthic and Paleolithic layers. GPR successfully recognizes pithouse features at other sites (Conyers and Cameron 1998). We identified some features in the GPR profiles that may represent early pithouses (Figure 8a). Multiple parallel GPR transects were run inside the excavated area in order to interpolate a 3D surface of the buried deposits (Figure 8b). This technique may prove useful for the identification of buried archaeological features (Figure 8c).

Future GPR studies by our team will be accompanied by excavation, to better establish the relationship between apparent negative GPR findings and the actual presence or absence of archaeological features. For example, a transect across the Izvilisty site revealed very different subsurface patterns for two depressions (Figure 9). The depression with the small test unit displays clear stratigraphic changes below the surface; whereas, a neighboring unexcavated depression has a definite lack of stratigraphy.


Survey Results

Surface inspection indicates that prehistoric occupation was neither rare nor ephemeral in the Izvilisty or the Kultuk area. The team documented prehistoric structural remains within a few hours of initiating the surface survey of each area. Many of the subsurface tests revealed multiple episodes of occupation at the same spot. Based strictly on visual inspection of the tephra layers at Kultuk and Izvilisty, the two areas appear to possess a record of human habitation stretching back at least 4000 years, making them relevant to our goal of understanding the mid-Holocene. We expect more accurate age estimates from glass analysis of tephra samples collected from these two areas and the charcoal samples collected from the test pits and unit.

Excavation Results

At both Kultuk and Izvilisty, traces of occupation are layered over long periods of time (Figure 2). If our tephra identification is correct, Izvilisty was occupied for perhaps 2000 years suggesting that these areas remained stable and desirable for re-occupation. Within each of the three primary cultural strata at Izvilisty Unit 1, the hearth feature contained several distinct tephra layers alternating with layers of hearth material and fireplace ash (Figure 3). This indicates that volcanic tephra fall was a regular incident in the lives of the people living at Izvilisty. It neither displaced them from their residence for any significant period of time nor did it disrupt their continuity with their recent past. This regular tephra fall is very important to the larger project’s goal of linking environmental and cultural dynamics. Volcanic activity reduces temperatures and changes precipitation regimes in the short term and it is clear that it plays a role in the lives of people living along the lakeshore during the mid-Holocene as well as today.

The distribution of excavated artifacts at Izvilisty does not precisely mirror the visible cultural soils. 90% of all finds were in the bottom cultural stratum, below the coarse, pumice-rich sandy tephra. Finds in the upper two cultural strata were sparse (Figure 4). The structure at Izvilisty contained multiple features within the excavated 1 meter by 1 meter zone – two postholes and a multi-phase hearth pit. The hearth pit is particularly interesting, since it is present in all three cultural strata, in the same location, but changes in shape and size over time (Figure 5a-d).

The artifacts from the Izvilisty and Kultuk test pits are difficult to assign to a particular material culture tradition, as they are almost entirely flakes and other toolmaking debris. The few tools come from the Izvilisty excavation (11, or 6.3% of the total finds from Unit 1). One broken, heat-damaged bifacial point may not have been completed and does not resemble anything in the Ushki collection (Figure 6a). Despite the general lack of diagnostic tools in the test unit, a possible piercer made from white chalcedony (Figure 6b) resembles piercing tools excavated at Ushki, which were used in bead-making.

Discussion and Conclusion

The brief exploratory field season in 2009 shows the project area is not only archaeologically-rich, but also contains a wealth of paleoenvironmental data. It is outside the scope of this brief report to discuss the results of the geological team’s findings. However, deep peat deposits dating back to the mid-Holocene are common, as discussed by our colleagues in Bourgeois et al. 2006. These peats are excellent for linking carbon dates to tephra layers as well as containing preserved plant material that is useful for paleoecological reconstruction. In addition, the peats and archaeological sediments preserve a detailed record of volcanic activity in the region.

Gorshkov and Dubik’s 1970 description of the aftermath of the 1964 Shiveluch eruption allows us to imagine a social context for ancient tephra falls. Earthquakes increased in strength and frequency for 11 months prior to the eruption. There were 73 earthquakes recorded in the final 24 hours! Although the explosive eruption lasted for only one hour, the tephra fall over Ust-Kamchatsk lasted for three hours and accumulated to a depth of 3 centimeters. Closer to the volcano, airborne pumice stripped branches and bark from all of the trees.

Shiveluch tephra falls are carried by prevailing winds over the project area every 160 years or so (Pevzner et al. 1998). Knowledgeable prehistoric occupants of the area would associate the precursors to a Shiveluch eruption with the likelihood of an tephra fall. Given that generations would have lived without first-hand experience of a Shiveluch eruption, orally-transmitted stories guided people’s subsequent decisions to remain or flee (Cashman and Cronin 2008)(Torrence et al. 2009)]. The pumice-rich tephra falls present in the earlier part of the Izvilisty sequence had dire consequences for the forest in the area, while fine-grained sandy tephra were merely an inconvenience. Easy access to marine resources in the estuarine zone may have buffered local communities from impacts to terrestrial plants and animals.

Torrence et al. (2009) make a compelling suggestion about the need for cultural flexibility when living in a volcanic environment. They suggest that the valuable traits of “…high mobility, flexible social forms and subsistence systems, the maintenance of long-distance social ties, [and] the rapid adoption of new technologies…” would predispose such groups to succeed in previously uncolonized areas (p. 528). Torrence et al. are making a generalization about the peopling of Oceania, but there are implications for the peopling of North America as well, given that the Kamchatka Peninsula lies on the western edge of the former Bering Land Bridge.

Finally, we suggest that this flexibility is amplified because of changing climate. Very preliminary evidence shows that for Old Factory Lake and Kamchatka the temperature goes from mild to warm to mild, and that for Kierikki it goes from warm to mild to warm. Our results show that for Kierikki that as temperature changes and as the land comes out of the sea, there are: increased circumscription, increased size of house structures, increased linearity of house location within villages, increased linearity of settlement pattern, and changes of settlement location relative to the estuary mouths (Vaneeckhout 2009). Whether these are reversed in Kamchatka and Old Factory Lake waits to be seen.


Figure 2: A comparison of stratigraphy across all test pits.
Figure 3: The stratigraphy of Unit 1 at Izvilisty shows three distinct cultural layers bounded by tephra.
Figure 4: 3D plot of the finds in Unit 1 at Izvilisty.
Figure 5a: Youngest phase of hearth pit
Figure 5b: Intermediate phase of hearth pit
Figure 5c: Intermediate phase of hearth pit
Figure 5d: Oldest phase of hearth pit (dotted line marks edge of charcoal scatter.
Figure 6a: A damaged bifacial point from Izvilisty
Figure 6b: A chalcedony piercer from Izvilisty
Figure 8a: Possible archaeological depression, traced for emphasis.
Figure 8b: The GPR transects at Ushki V, showing relationship between the known site and the possible depression in Figure 5a.
Figure 8c: A 3D interpolation of a small GPR grid over the floor of the excavation at Ushki V.


Dr. Ezra Zubrow, PhD., F.S.A.
Principal Investigator
Professor, Department of Anthropology
DirectorSocial Systems Geographic Information Science Laboratory
Department of Anthropology, University at Buffalo State University of New York
zubrow@buffalo.edu Website

Irina Ponkratova, PhD.
Senior Research Partner
Senior Lecturer, History Department, North-Eastern State University

Tatiana Kostantinovna Pinegina
Senior Research Partner
Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, Far East Division, Russian Academy of Sciences

Vera Ponomareva
Senior Research Partner
Institute of Volcanology and Seismology

Joanne (Jody) Bourgeois, PhD.
Senior Research Partner
Professor, University of Washington

Gregory J. Korosec, M.A.
Project Participant
PhD. Student, Department of Anthropology, University at Buffalo
Associate Lab Director, Social Systems GIS Lab

Eva Hulse, PhD.
Project Participant
Post-Doc, Department of Anthropology, University at Buffalo
evahulse@buffalo.edu Website

Dustin Keeler, PhD.
Project Participant
Post-Doc, Department of Anthropology, University at Buffalo

Dan Griswold
Project Participant
PhD. Candidate, Researcher, Department of Anthropology, University at Buffalo

Caitlin Curtis
Project Participant
PhD. Candidate, Department of Anthropology, University at Buffalo
Chief Personnel Officer, Social Systems GIS Lab

Rebecca Miller
Project Participant
PhD. Candidate, Department of Anthropology, University at Buffalo



Archaeological fieldwork during the 2009 season by the ICAP research team from University at Buffalo


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