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Nunalleq project members speak at Community Archaeology seminar in Aberdeen!

March 7, 2016

As some of you will already know, Mike Smith recently paid a visit to Aberdeen in order to meeting with Rick and the team, to see artefacts from Nunalleq during conservation and also to attend an international seminar on Community Archaeology. The workshop, called ‘Community Archaeologies in Practice: Global Perspectives’, saw university researchers and community members from Japan, Alaska and Scotland came together to share their experiences of doing community-based archaeology across four unique research projects: Nunalleq, Rebun Island (Hokkaido), Bennachie (Aberdeenshire) and Rhynie (also in Aberdeenshire).

Community Workshop

The seminar took place in the Sir Duncan Rice Library in Aberdeen, and included community archaeology participants from around the world.


The diverse audience of undergraduates, postgraduates and staff along with professionals and other members of the public were treated to moving presentations on the challenges and benefits of linking communities and academic researchers. Mike’s presentation was very well-received, and he gave a great account of the Nunalleq project from the community’s perspective. It was great meeting you in Aberdeen Mike!

Jeff (c/o Kate)

Team Nunalleq says ‘Bienvenue’ to it’s newest recruits!

February 24, 2016

The AHRC Care for the Future theme has not only provided financial support for our this project over the last few years, but has also provided fantastic thematic support and great opportunities to meet and network with researchers in similar areas – both within the UK and beyond. Now, thanks to a cross-country funding scheme (with French scheme LabEx, Pasts in the Present), we are now able to welcome three new researchers to the project from Nanterre, Paris, who will help drive a new research strand on the connection between animals, subsistence and technology at Nunalleq.

The AHRC-LabEx collaboration will run from February 2016 until February 2018, and brings with it two post-doctoral researchers from Nanterre – Claire Houmard, and Yan Axel Gómez-Coutouly, as well as Head of Laboratory, Isabelle Sidéra.

And we have wasted no time in getting started! Claire – an expert in bone technology – has just returned to Paris from Aberdeen, where she spent 10 days studying the collections with Rick and Edouard, and talking archaeology with Mike who was also visiting Aberdeen at the time.

Nunalleq needles and stone drills

And Claire has already proved her worth – convincing a sceptical Rick to let her take a look through some of our sieved material promising to find needles. She found not one, but two delicate bone needles! These are our first needles from the site, and are a tiny but very welcome addition to the assemblage. Great work Claire!


Our regularly readers might have noticed something slightly different about the last post – it was written in French as well as above in English. As part of our new collaboration, we shall be aiming at posting in French now and again. All blog content shall continue to be posted in English primarily, but – when posts concern the AHRC-LabEx consortium specifically – we shall endevour to post in French as well (being careful not to exhaust our translators, Claire and Edouard!).




L’équipe de Nunalleq souhaite la bienvenue à ces nouvelles recrues !

February 24, 2016

Le projet de l’AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council) ‘Care for the Future’ a non seulement apporter un soutien financier à notre projet depuis ces dernières années, mais aussi offert de nouvelles opportunités et un soutien fantastique pour permettre la rencontre et la mise en réseau de chercheurs britanniques et étrangers travaillant dans des aires géographiques similaires. A présent, grâce à un projet de collaboration financé par l’AHRC et la France (LabEx “Les Passés dans le Présent“, Nanterre), nous avons pu accueillir trois nouveaux chercheurs dans notre projet, qui aideront à mener une nouvelle recherche de qualité dont l’objectif est de lier animal, subsistance et technologie à Nunalleq.

La collaboration de deux ans AHRC/LabEx vient de débuter en février 2016. Elle permet d’intégrer deux chercheurs post-doctorants de Nanterre – Claire Houmard et Yan Axel Gomez-Coutouly, sous la direction de leur directrice de laboratoire Isabelle Sidéra.

Nous n’avons pas perdu notre temps ! Claire, experte en technologie osseuse, vient tout juste de passer un séjour de 10 jours à Aberdeen pour étudier les collections de Nunalleq avec Rick et Edouard, et a parlé archéologie avec Mike qui s’est aussi rendu à Aberdeen au même moment pour une journée thématique sur l’archéologie en lien avec les communautés.

Nunalleq needles and stone drills

Claire a déjà convaincu Rick, sceptique au départ, de trier les refus de tamis à la recherche d’aiguilles. Elle en trouva une, puis deux, puis une troisième entière ! Ce sont les toutes premières aiguilles trouvées sur le site. Bien que très petites, elles sont délicatement fabriquées et tout à fait bienvenues pour compléter la collection. Bien joué Claire !

Kate (translated by Claire, and Edouard)

Nunalleq: New Narratives from ‘The Old Village’

February 22, 2016

AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council)  has published a photo gallery with pictures from Quinhagak and Nunalleq. Enjoy the Narratives from the Old Village.

News from the field

February 2, 2016

Since August I had been dreaming of going back to Quinhagak. Earlier in January, my dream came true: I was lucky to visit the village and see our site hibernating in the winter.

It was so cold that even the sun put its mittens on:
The cold vastness of Alaskan tundra was breathtaking…
…and even familiar scenes and landscapes seemed unfamiliar in this frozen stillness….
But do you recognise this square?
Warren and I went to the site on January 18th and were so glad to see that the recent storms caused no damage to Nunalleq! Though the site looked different—cold and sorta abundant,—it had been intact since we left.IMG_0573
The site was backfilled and covered with some plastic in mid-August; during the autumn months it got filled with rainwater. So now, the square is covered with ice and resembles a big skating rink. Rick says that the cold and ice create a great protection for the site keeping the bugs off. And definitely make it look gorgeous:
Seems like our site is being regularly visited by some tundra inhabitants:
… I have hardly seen anything more beautiful than the frozen Bering Sea:
Until further notice. Can’t wait for the new digging season to begin.

Congratulations Dr McManus! The first Nunalleq Project PhD student successfully defends!

August 28, 2015

Dr. McManus in the field

I am very happy to blog that, after years of hard work in the lab and the field, on Monday 24th August, isotope specialist and field team regular, Ellen McManus, successfully passed her PhD oral examination at the University of Aberdeen. Congratulations Ellen!

This event was cause for extra celebration as Ellen is the first doctoral student from the Nunalleq Project to complete her PhD. Her thesis entitled ‘Pre-contact ecology, subsistence and diet, on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta’ is an innovative study that integrates zooarchaeology with stable isotope techniques, to reconstruct past Alaskan foodwebs and to examine faunal palaeoecology at the site. The examiners had many complimentary things to say about Ellen’s work, particularly her research into the dogs found at Nunalleq and the ecosystem changes that have occurred over the centuries since the site was first inhabited.

Themed cakes might just have to become a tradition for the new PhDs of Nunalleq!

The viva, which is the UK equivalent of a defense, lasted several hours, after which Ellen was awarded a pass with only minor corrections. Family, faculty and friends, including members of the Nunalleq team already back in Aberdeen (and those of us who never left!) were on hand to celebrate with Ellen – which included pizza and an animals-of-Nunalleq theme cake!

Congratulations again Dr. McManus! The question is: who’s next?!


More reports from the site

August 20, 2015

Nunalleq features in KYUK Public Media


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