Prehistoric Human Response to Climate Change
What Are They Doing?
For this project, the research team collected and analyzed archaeological and paleoenvironmental data from three widely separated but environmentally comparable sites within the northern circumpolar region, the Yli-li area of Northern Finland, the Wemindji area of James Bay, Canada, and in the Kamchatka Peninsula region of Russia.
The circumpolar North is widely seen as an observatory for changing relations between human societies and their environments. The goal of the research team was to learn about the prehistoric society and economy of these areas in order to better understand human adaptation to significant environmental changes that took place between 6,000 and 4,000 years ago. Data gathered from this project helped enable more effective collaboration between social, natural and medical sciences.
This project was part of a the first circumpolar humanities research initiative called Histories From the North: Environments, Movements, Narratives (BOREAS), which involved collaboration of researchers from Europe, the US, Canada, and Russia and is part of the International Polar Year.
Where Are They?
The research team conducted work near Yli-Ii, Finland, a town located about 30 miles northeast of Oulu. Yli-Ii is situated on the banks of the river Iijoki near an expansive Stone Age settlement area that researchers have been excavating since the 1960's.
In August of 2009, the researchers traveled to the community of Wemindji, which is located on the east coast of James Bay in northern Quebec, Canada. Wemindji is a relatively new settlement – in 1958, Cree families residing on an island called Old Factory moved 25 miles south to the current location.
Meet the Team
Michael Wing has taught at Sir Francis Drake High School in San Anselmo, California since 1998. He teaches science to students in the Revolution of Core Knowledge (ROCK) program, an academy within Drake High focused on college preparation and interdisciplinary projects. Recently, Dr. Wing and his students built an insulated mini-greenhouse at the University of California’s White Mountain Research Station, at an elevation of 12,500 feet. Not only is the greenhouse the highest school garden in America, it is the highest garden of any kind in the USA or Canada!
Dr. Ezra Zubrow is a professor of anthropology at the University of Buffalo and also holds academic positions at the University of Toronto and Cambridge University. He is also Senior Research Scientist at the National Center for Geographic Information Analysis Laboratory, which he helped found. He has a diverse set of academic interests: arctic archaeology and anthropology, climate change, human ecology and demography, as well as a deep interest in social issues (heritage, disability, and literacy). For more than 30 years he has been doing field work in Northern Canada, Finland, and the rest of Scandinavia, and he originally pursued a career in science because one of his high school teachers persuaded him to participate in an ozone-tracking project. To learn more about Dr. Zubrow, please visit his faculty biography page (http://wings.buffalo.edu/anthropology/Faculty/zubrow.htm).
Greg Korosec is a PhD student in anthropology at the State University of New York at Buffalo and the assistant director of the University at Buffalo's Social Systems GIS Laboratory (http://wings.buffalo.edu/research/anthrogis/). Mr. Korosec has been returning to the circumpolar north for the past several years where he is interested in the human adaptation, evolution, and responses to a changing past environment.
Dustin Keeler is a PhD student in archaeology at the State University of New York at Buffalo. Mr. Keeler's research interests include studying people of the Paleolithic and Neolithic, or the Stone Age, human settlement patterns, Northern and Western Europe, and mapping using GIS. He has participated in archeological excavations in France for several years and is currently conducting surveys and excavations on Neolithic sites in Northern Finland.