Soil chemical signatures of a historic sod house: Activity area analysis of an arctic semisubterranean structure on Nelson Island, Alaska

Kelly Knudson, Liam Frink

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

On Nelson Island in western Alaska, some Yup'ik inhabitants built and inhabited semisubterranean houses until the early 1960s. This affords a unique opportunity to examine known activity areas of ethnoarchaeological soils using multielement chemical characterization of soils. These data can then be compared to archaeological investigations, allowing a nuanced and sophisticated understanding of the activities performed in the past. Here, we present elemental concentration data from soil extracts, generated with a quadrupole inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer, of the following elements in the soil extract recorded in parts per billion: sodium (Na), magnesium (Mg), aluminum (Al), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), calcium (Ca), titanium (Ti), chromium (Cr), manganese (Mn), iron (Fe), cobalt (Co), nickel (Ni), copper (Cu), zinc (Zn), arsenic (As), strontium (Sr), barium (Ba), lead (Pb), and uranium (U). When compared to an offsite area, the sod house samples were enriched in phosphorus and magnesium, and specific areas within the sod house exhibited different signatures related to different activities, including the incorporation of wood ash and waste into the soil.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)265-282
Number of pages18
JournalArchaeological and Anthropological Sciences
Volume2
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 29 2010

Keywords

  • Elemental concentration
  • Ethnoarchaeology
  • Q-ICP-MS
  • Yup'ik

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Anthropology
  • Archaeology

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