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Batza Téna: The Trail to Obsidian

Donald W. Clark
Arctic Anthropology
Vol. 32, No. 1, After the Land Bridge: Climate, Biomes, and Cultural Interaction in Northern Beringia. Papers in Honor of Edwin S. Hall, Jr. (1995), pp. 82-91
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40316375
Page Count: 10
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Batza Téna: The Trail to Obsidian
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Abstract

Thirty years ago the sources of obsidian utilized prehistorically in northwestern Alaska were a geological mystery. In 1967 the principal geologic source for this region was located by the U. S. Geological Survey on the Koyukuk River. During the next four seasons it was investigated by Canadian Museum of Civilization archaeologists. The geologic source is located between the Indian and Little Indian rivers in the area known to the local Koyukon Athapaskans as Batza Téna. The high-grade obsidian occurs as nodules in perlitic ash at the outcrop and is widely distributed westward nearly to the banks of the Koyukuk River in gravels and colluvium. Surrounding and within the source area are numerous flaking stations where obsidian was reduced to biface roughouts and made into other artifacts. Within this array of sites are several that have yielded assemblages which by their nature represent a broader range of activities than lithic reduction and may be regarded as camp sites. From these it has been possible to construct a tentative sequence of occupation at Batza Téna. The present article, however, focuses on the description of Batza Téna and the history of its discovery and first archaeological investigations.

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