Jeffrey T. Rasic, National Park Service, is finding hearths. Rasic spoke at the Alaska Anthropology Association Conference on March 24, 2018. Rasic’s talk was titled Great When You Can Find Them: Case Studies in Hearth Detection Using Magnetic Survey Methods. Rasic said, “Prehistoric hearth features can yield troves of information about past human behavior, archaeological chronology, and paleo-environments. But in many regions hearths are exceedingly difficult to identify since they can be small targets and only rarely preserved.”
In his presentation, Rasic discussed recent applications of magnetic survey methods designed to increase detection rates of hearth features. Case studies from northern Alaska covering diverse settings and time-periods demonstrate the utility of the method in various modes of operation, field study environments, and geological studies.
Cases range from the simplest use of the magnetometer on “search mode” to use as a gradiometer among a suite of other geophysical methods for more nuanced interpretation. Rasic reported on new radiocarbon dates from Paleo-indian and Denbigh Flint Complex hearths identified with these methods.
By Liz O’Connell, University of Alaska Anchorage