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Quinhagak carver John Smith in KYUK

September 15, 2017

John Smith, Quinhagak elder, artist and carver is featuring in a nice article in KYUK. John has been involved in the Nunalleq excavation from the start, and has become a great friend of us archaeologists. He is constantly sharing his stories (some more elaborate than others 😉 ), and telling us about artefacts we find, and their use in the past – the ones he recognise. We have learned a lot for John, not least from the wonder with which he’s scrutinising the ancient carvings with the skilled craftsman’s eye. John, needless to say, is also a brilliant ivory carver, and many of us have pieces made by him, often replicas of artefacts found at Nunalleq, or inspired by the same.


John Smith examining a Nunalleq artefact (the owl below in fact, I think)

One of this years favourite artefacts was the little owl toggle found by Rufus:

Rufus with his original find, and his replica owl made by John. 

Ivory art – Old and New

Thank you John for all your support and friendship over the years!

Looking back at the summer…

September 11, 2017

Term has started here in Aberdeen, and the autumn rain is pouring down outside my office window, it all makes you wish you were back in Quinhagak… and reflect on this year’s field season.

One reflection comes from Alice – who will be working on the education pack this year, and who dug with is for three weeks this summer while also collecting material for the education pack. Alice is an archaeologists, but specialises in illustration, digital survey and visualisation – Or as Jonathan puts it: she knows 3D 🙂 Here’s a post from Alice’s blog on her Nunalleq impressions.


More on Nunalleq

September 10, 2017

Here’s an opinion piece on the excavation and future museum in Alaska Dispatch News

Report from Nunalleq on KYUK

September 6, 2017

Here you can read, and listen to, the KYUK report from Nunalleq.

The Finale

September 5, 2017

Hi all

This is our last post from this year’s field season, because lo and behold, we’ve finished!

Everything is sorted and packed away now, a few coolers with basketry and other fragile artefacts are ready for shipping, and the lab is looking tidier than it has all season.


Rick and I will be flying out this morning, he will be giving a talk about the project in Bethel at the Kuskokwim campus of University of Alaska Fairbanks, Room 118. The first 30 people to arrive will also get lunch. We hope to see you there!

Until next time, Quinhagak!



PS: We also got in this year’s hoodies, aren’t they cool?

Nunalleq 2017 in Alaska Dispatch News

September 4, 2017

The story of this season’s excavation is featuring in Alaska Dispatch News.


September 3, 2017

One of the most amazing things with the Nunalleq project are all the little side projects and ideas that take flight on their own with inspiration from the archaeology. On the academic, community, cultural and artistic levels there are many things growing out of the archaeological soil, without being initiated by the Nunalleq research team – and this is what makes the Nunalleq project so truly dynamic and exciting. One person that found inspiration in Nunalleq is Drew Michael – contemporary Yup’ik artist and mask maker, who worked with us for a week this summer. His experience from the dig has taken its expression in this newly created piece of art; Dreammask.


This is how Drew describe the piece in his own words: Dreammask is a spirit that showed itself to me while I was in Quinhagak, Alaska. This spirit had red along the chin. I feel representing the strength and root of the place and people who live and lived there. The nose is shaped similarly to the one on the mask I found in the house floor. The color on the cheeks are of the earth and show the connection we have with the places where we live. Especially our connection to land and spirits that live around. Basswood, acrylic, handmade nails from France, glass beads, pearl, chain, feathers, bentwood. September 2017 40x26x4

You can learn more about Drew Michael and his art here