This project will continue the research by PI James E. Dixon to continue underwater paleoenvironmental modeling and archaeological survey in Southeast Alaska as part of a multi-year effort to identify ancient archaeological remains on the continental shelf dating to the late Pleistocene, ca 12,000-16,000 y.a. This is the time period when sea level was lower, due to the ice sheets covering large parts of North America. During this time period, the coastline had the potential for supporting human occupation and it has long been hypothesized that this was one of the routes of early human migration from Asia to North America. Following the flooding that occurred with the post-Pleistocene sea level rise, evidence of these early migrations,in the form of archeological sites, would have been covered and now occupying the contemporary sea floor.
The previous project, Gateway to America I, was supported though a Small Grant for Exploratory Research through the Arctic Social Sciences Program. During that pilot project, two anomalies in the undersea area were discovered; one resembling a stone fishing weir, the other a rectangular and circular shaped depresses that could be of cultural origin. This project would continue the investigation started in the pilot project by 1) documenting and testing the anomalies observed in 2010, and 2) conducting additional underwater survey and testing guided by GIS modeling and field observations. The project has the potential to bring empirical evidence to a decades old debate in North American archaeology: when and by what route did people migrate into North America from Asia?