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Radiocarbon Dating Thule Culture

David Morrison
Arctic Anthropology
Vol. 26, No. 2 (1989), pp. 48-77
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40316184
Page Count: 30
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Radiocarbon Dating Thule Culture
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Abstract

Available radiocarbon dates are considered in an attempt to date Thule culture and its various stylistic phases. Criteria for the rejection of certain categories of dates are discussed, including sea mammal dates and those referring to ambiguous or poorly defined cultural contexts. The 138 assays surviving this process are grouped into various stylistic phases, and histograms are constructed showing the distribution of dates within each phase. Results include an estimation of the earliest movement of Thule culture people into arctic Canada at about A. D. 1000 and clear evidence that the Ruin Island and Classic Thule phases represent separate migrational events from Alaska. Some of the problems inherent in the radiocarbon dating of Thule culture are discussed, including contextual difficulties, fractionation problems, and physical contamination from the sea mammal oil ubiquitous in most Thule sites.

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