It has been a busy winter in the Alaska lab.
Reconstructing a vessel takes a lot of patience, and requires a steady hand. First the joining pieces are glued together, and then the gaps and cracks are filled with a coloured plaster. The plaster is tinted in a way that the original fragments can still be easily distinguished. That way you can see for yourself how much of the vessel is original, and what had to bee ‘imagined’ by the skilled conservator. The process is reversible in that the pot can be taken apart again if necessary. The vessel on the picture is one of several almost complete pots recovered from Nunalleq.
These wooden artefacts from Nunalleq have just had catalogue numbers attached and are awaiting entry into a computer data base. Lately we have been processing about 2,000 artefacts a week. After all the conservation, cataloging and preliminary analysis is complete, the collection will be returned to Quinhagak and the new Cultural and Archaeological centre that is being built in the village. You will be able to see them there probably within a year.
Kayaks and boats have naturally been an integral part of life at Nunalleq – the sea-close, sea-mammal-hunting and fishing community. We have not (yet ;)) found a kayak, but many kayak ribs, and other small kayak pieces, many of which have been reused for something else. It’s hard to remember when one sees the abundance of wooden artefacts from the site, but wood was a rare and valuable commodity at nunalleq, and thus many wooden pieces had several ‘lives’. Many of the ‘stick-dolls’ we find have been kayaks in their previous life. We have also found fragments of kayak paddles.
In addition to the full-size kayaks, we also have recovered kayak models, that can give you an idea of what the full scale kayak could have looked like.
Pictures taken by Rick Knecht
KTVA Alaska is reporting on Nunalleq and the new Cultural Centre and museum that is being set up http://www.ktva.com/alaska-village-see-return-centuries-old-artifacts-306/
For years Rick has been working like a madman in the lab to, with the aid of conservator Julie Masson-MacLean and a dedicated group of students and volunteers, curate and catalogue all the artefacts from the six excavation seasons at Nunalleq. Here are pictures of some of the fully treated artefacts that will soon go back to the new cultural center in Quinhagak.
All pictures are taken by Rick Knecht
The last workshop, that started after the village 4th of July parade, was well attended by young carvers, and some very nice pieces were made – those inspired by the old artefacts from the collection as well as artworks sprung from imagination. Instead of writing about it, we will just show you a photo gallery from the event 🙂