The lithic assemblages presented here were collected during archaeological fieldwork in the upper Susitna River Basin on the southern flank of the central Alaska Range as part of the Alaska Range Uplands Project (Figure 1). There are three main goals to this ongoing research program: (1) establish the timing of initial settlement of the Alaska Range, (2) investigate changes in upland land-use strategies over time, and (3) establish the influence of upland activities on central Alaskan lithic assemblage variability. The lithic analysis data contained in this dataset were recovered from a variety of contexts, many of which were radiocarbon dated or stratigraphically dated using a tephrochronological sequence in the study area [1, 2].
Description: Upper Susitna River Basin, Alaska
Northern boundary: 63.228
Southern boundary: 63.042
Eastern boundary: –147.133
Western boundary: –147.901
The dataset covers the period of 12,510 to 11,990 cal BP (representing the oldest calibrated radiocarbon date range) to <1,825 cal BP (representing the lower stratigraphic age limit of the youngest assemblages).
A total of 8,762 lithic debitage and tools from nineteen archaeological sites were analyzed using metric and non-metric attribute analysis. Digital calipers, a digital goniometer, and a digital scale were used to collect metric data, and visual inspection was used to collect non-metric data. Lithic raw material categories were established based on rock type, color, and texture. Lithic raw material categories were compared to lithic raw material sources in the study area to determine whether they were available in the study area . Debitage attributes scored in this study include weight, size class, condition, amount and type of cortex, platform preparation, and presence/absence of thermal alteration. Debitage was also classified using a hierarchical typology, separating pieces at two levels, class and type. Debitage typology characteristics follow [4, 5] and are described in detail in .
Data collected on lithic cores includes number of platforms, platform-surface preparation, number of core fronts, maximum linear dimension, weight, and size value . Formal cores were characterized according to morphological features . Tools were classified as unifacial or bifacial, and non-metric and metric attributes were recorded for each including weight, tool condition, fracture type, edge angle, tool-blank type and presence/absence of hafting characteristics. Unifacial tools (Figure 2) were scored for invasiveness of retouch (measured to the 0.01 mm at the most invasive depth, and at 25%, 50%, and 75% of tool face when these portions of the tool face were available), and retouched edge angle. Unifacial tool retouch intensity was scored as the number of retouched edges out of 10 units representing the entire circumference of the tool, excluding missing tool edges following [6, 7].
Tools were scored typologically into class and type, using a standard typology developed for sites in central Alaska . Bifacial tools (Figure 3) were further categorized into hafted and unhafted categories (based on presence absence of edge grinding and hafting characteristics such as flake arris wear, indentation from grinding/wear, notching, and blade indentation from sharpening in the haft), and scored for length, width, thickness (mm), weight (0.1 g), fragment type, transverse and longitudinal cross section, presence or absence of cortex, edge shape, presence/absence and length of marginal grinding, flaking pattern, and hafted biface basal shape and basal features following [9, 10]. Basic biface reduction categories were used to characterize reduction sequence. Early stage bifaces were initially flaked along edges, with few flake scars across the face; middle stage bifaces have most cortex removed and are flaked across the face to the center of the tool; late stage bifaces have a flat cross section, large, flat flake scars across the faces; finished bifaces have all of the characteristics of late stage bifaces, along with refined edge trimming (typically used for bifacial tool fragments that are missing the proximal end and therefore cannot be definitively assigned to hafted biface category).
The lithic assemblages in the dataset represent 100% of excavated materials from the representative sites.
Artifact provenience information was checked against field notes during the accessioning process to ensure quality control over provenience. The dataset has been reviewed for any errors through Microsoft Excel error check and visually by the analyst.
Four of the lithic assemblages in this dataset represent surface artifact scatters and are therefore undated. This may affect their utility for future research focused on temporal periods.
(3) Dataset description
“Prehistoric Landscape Use in the Central Alaska Range” (tDAR id: 468022) doi:10.48512/XCV8468022. There are two files in the tDAR project record “Prehistoric landscape use in the central Alaska Range”. The first file is “Lithic analysis dataset from the upper Susitna River basin” (tDAR id: 468112) doi:10.48512/XCV8468112. This file is a Microsoft Excel file with primary lithic analysis data. The second file is “Prehistoric landscape use in the central Alaska Range: coding sheet for lithic analysis dataset from the upper Susitna River basin” (tDAR id: 468113) doi:10.48512/XCV8468113. This file is a PDF file with coding sheet information to accompany the lithic assemblage dataset.
Format names and versions
Start date 14/08/2010; end date 14/05/2016.
John C. Blong, Department of Anthropology, Washington State University.
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.
Prehistoric landscape use in the central Alaska Range: lithic analysis dataset from the upper Susitna River basin. John Blong. 2016 (tDAR id: 468112); doi:10.48512/XCV8468112.
(4) Reuse potential
Several studies focused on the subarctic and arctic region of North America have utilized lithic assemblage data to characterize broad demographic and land-use patterns over time [11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16]. This dataset is ideal for use in meta-analysis studies such as these. Table 1 >provides geographical and chronological information on the archaeological sites contained in this dataset to facilitate its use in meta-analysis studies. Photographs of a selection of lithics from many of these sites are available open access in  This dataset can also be used for subarctic and arctic lithic technological organization studies using lithic assemblage attributes to reconstruct land-use strategies. There is reuse potential for methodological studies; for example, this dataset provides a robust set of measures of tool reduction that can be compared to assess reliability of tool and core reduction indices. Finally, this dataset has reuse potential in educational settings, for example as a tutorial for students in undergraduate and graduate archaeology, lithic technology, and statistics classes.
|SITE NUMBER||ELEVATION (METERS ABOVE SEA LEVEL)||MODERN VEGETATION||COMPONENT AGE (CAL BP 2σ)|
|HEA-234||809||Shrub tundra||C3: <1,825|
|HEA-235||806||Shrub tundra||C3: <1,825|
|HEA-454||790||Shrub tundra||C3: <1,825
|HEA-455||860||Shrub tundra||C3: 2,329–2,682
|HEA-458||825||Shrub tundra||C1: >1,825|
|HEA-460||1340||Alpine tundra||C1: <1,825|
|HEA-499||772||Shrub tundra||C1: 4,432–4,867|
|HEA-500||790||Shrub tundra||C1: <1,825|
|HEA-502||813||Shrub tundra||C1: <1,825|
|HEA-506||778||Shrub tundra||C1: 5,050–5,299|
|HEA-507||769||Shrub tundra||C1: <1,825|
|HEA-508||788||Shrub tundra||C3: <1,825
|HEA-509||788||Shrub tundra||C1: <1,825|
|HEA-510||788||Shrub tundra||C1: <1,825|
|HEA-511||795||Shrub tundra||C1: <1,825|