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Ancient arctic pyro-technologies: Experimental fires to document the impact of animal origin fuels on wood combustion

Vanlandeghem, Marine; Desachy, Bruno; Buonasera, Tammy; Norman, Lauren; Théry-Parisot, Isabelle; Carré, Alain; Petit, Christophe; Elliott, Michelle; Alix, Claire;
Open Access
Remains of animal fuel and driftwood fires are evident in Birnirk and Thule sites of northwestern Alaska (AD 11th-14th century). To better understand these fires, a robust experimental protocol was designed to study the effects of multi-fuel fires, in particular, the addition of fat to woody fuels. In Arctic regions, permafrost and climate conditions do not allow for the development of tree vegetation. Marine mammal oil and bones served as fuel substitutes, as did locally shrubby vegetation and driftwood accumulations. The excavation of numerous thick burnt areas in many Arctic sites confirms the use of multiple fuels including wood, animal fat, and bone in larg...
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