Dr. Owen Mason brought the prehistoric artic to life in his presentation about prehistoric whaling on the Bering Strait on Tuesday.
Mason is an archaeologist who works in Alaska and other coastal and riverine regions of the Arctic observing the whaling and walrus hunting villages of these areas.
"The Bering Strait region, between Alaska and Siberia, was a place of radical innovations as early as 400 B.C.," said Administrative Assistant of the Arctic Museum Kristi Clifford. "Dr. Mason talked about how the nomadic prehistoric groups became more sedentary and began to intensively hunt large whales and walrus."
Mason's lecture incorporated how whaling and hunting for walruses resulted in a stratification of villages along the Alaskan and Siberian coast bordering the Bering Strait.
During the lecture Mason explained how the distribution of villages on the Strait determined whether prehistoric inhabitants turned to walruses or whales for sustenance, and focused on how archeological remains point researchers to their conclusions.
"Though whaling and walruses will be broached, the art and artifacts collected in these villages will also be a main focus of the lecture," said Clifford.
The figurines and weapons were decorated with intricate representations of animals and humans, and the designs reflect whether whale or walrus was the main source of food.
According to Mason, these archaeological remains suggest the presence of high-status individuals in the tribes as well as the practice of shamanism and the waging of regional warfare.
"I wish to discuss how these stratified societies developed and explore why the social, economic, technological and artistic innovations emerged and what prompted the regional conflicts," said Mason.
Mason also touched upon the new difficulties arising in archaeological studies due to global warming.
The event was sponsored by the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum and Arctic Studies Center and the Office of the Dean for Academic Affairs.
"I hope students are able to come away from this with a better understanding of the common misconceptions about whaling villages in Alaska, which is that they are not as prehistoric as some may have thought," said Mason.