The field season has officially started. Yesterday Rick, Carly and Charlotta arrived to Quinhagak, and today Véro, Paul, Cheryl & Roman joined the team. While Rick went to the airstrip in the new fancy van to pick up the (newly wed ;) ) scientists (Véro & Paul), Carly and Charlotta loaded a trailer and set of down the beach to bring a first load of gear down to the site.
And on that rather dull and uneventful note the story of day zero could have ended – had Charlotta tried a different approach to crossing the stream… ‘Do you think one can drive on that?’ she asked Carly and set off. The answer, it turned out, was NO, you can’t.
(Note to self: If not sure you can drive somewhere – don’t try it). The four wheeler was stuck good and thorough, and every attempt to drive out of the goo just wedged it in further… Fortunately we know how to dig – even if sticks and hands was all we had to our disposal. After what seemed like hours of digging, wedging sticks under the wheels, pulling, pushing, and failed attempts to drive out of the jam (both forwards and backwards) we finally got it free (and as you can see from the picture we were very proud of ourselves).
Despite the involuntarily workout we took a few more loads of gear out to the site – but every time we drove past the gigantic whole in the muck we had to ask ourselves – whatever were we thinking? No matter, that is what day zero is for, right?
We known it for a while; since the first season in 2009 we’ve lost up to 15 m of land at the site, and had the dig not started back then, a large part of Nunalleq’s memories would have been lost at sea. The melting permafrost and changing weather patterns is a real threat to the Arctic archaeological heritage – and it is important to raise public awareness of these eroding sites.
LKSD student filmmakers explore the connection between an archaeological dig site and the resurgence of dance in their community
We are breaking the silence with a greeting from California, more precisely San Francisco, where this years annual SAA (Society for American Archaeology) meeting/conference were held. The Alaska project had a session of it’s own at the conference – Human-Environment Interactions & Human Ecology in Western Alaska, and a large part of the team was represented, including Qanirtuuq Inc. by Lynn who flew all the way from Quinhagak to give her talk.
The project researchers were joined by Maanasa Raghavan who participated on a large study on the genetic prehistory of Alaska which included hair samples from Nunalleq. Rick gave an overview of the site and western alaskan archaeology, Kate spoke about dietary practices among Nunalleq’s human and canine inhabitants, Paul showed what plant remains can tell us about every day life at the site, Ana talked about the different pottery techniques used at Nunalleq, Véronique shared her discoveries of different activity areas based on bug remains, Charlotta discussed archaeology as Yup’ik heritage, and Lynn told us about archaeology and cultural preservation from the perspective of Quinhagak and the people local to the site. Overall it was a very interesting session, even for us who work on the project, and needless to say we had a great time in San Francisco.
Summer is coming closer, and that means so is the field season. Would you like to join us this summer?
You will find more information about the field season and how to apply here
Last year there were barely any snow in Quinhagak, and this year threatens to be the same. The school kids in Quinhagak miss it so much they made a video about it – and made it to the news. Merry Christmas for Quinhagak. I hope the kinds in Quinhagak will get a white Christmas