Crossroads is much more than a theme in this extraordinary volume, a compelling synthesis of the dynamic cultures of Northeast Asian and North American peoples in the Bering Sea and North Pacific region. Ten years in preparation and published in conjunction with a major international exhibition, Crossroads of Continents represents the culmination of a historic collaboration among American and Soviet scholars.
It is easy to forget that the North Pacific was first populated by Asians, not Europeans; that Russia once owned territory as far south as California and conducted the first scientific expeditions on the Northwest Coast; that early in the twentieth century, American scientists and curators explored the easternmost tip of Russia, amassing the premier collection of Siberian artifacts in the world. But as the unprecedented scope of Crossroads of Continents now demonstrates, the 56-mile wide sliver of icy waters, known only since 1728 as the Bering Strait, has historically been a link rather than a dividing line between the vast continents of Eurasia and the Americas. Essays by an international group of scholars explore the cultures of these little-known northern lands through geographic, historic, and comparative perspectives. The unusually rich text focuses on artifacts from seven groups occupying the North Pacific rim: Koryak, Even, and Chukchi in Siberia; and Eskimo, Aleut, Tlingit, and Athapaskan in Alaska.
Physically and philosophically, this landmark volume represents a merging of history, collections, and scholarship between nations. The book brings the history of a seemingly remote region into vivid focus: from the first appearance of man more than 10,000 years ago; through the rise of sophisticated hunting and fishing cultures on the North Pacific rim; to the first arrival of European explorers, whalers, and traders two centuries ago. This lavishly illustrated, authoritative text takes us all the way to the eve of the twenty-first century and a new age of the Pacific.
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