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Nunalleq and the little Ice Age educating youtube :)

April 21, 2021

Nunalleq and the Little Ice Age is featuring in a fabulous new episode on the PSB show Eons. Enjoy!

Archaeological Institute of America Award: Outstanding Work in Digital Archaeology

January 12, 2021

Last Thursday on the AIA award ceremony, we were very proud receivers of the Outstanding Work in Digital Archaeology Award 2021 for our Educational Resource:

Nunalleq PhD-success

December 17, 2020

Our own Anna Mossolova recently passed her PhD-defence on Yup’ik mask making traditions with a well-deserved distinction. Congratulations Anna!

You can find a pdf-version of her dissertation here.

AIA Award Winners!

November 19, 2020

Some exciting news dropped in our inboxes this morning – the Nunalleq Educational Resource just won the Archaeological Institute of America’s 2021 award for Outstanding Work in Digital Archaeology!

3 Common Work Goals & How to Crush Them

The award is shared among a big team of collaborators who came together to share the story of Nunalleq and its many voices – we will be celebrating all the way from Scotland to Alaska today – Cheers everyone!

Core Team

Rick Knecht & Charlotta Hillerdal: Archaeological Directors

Warren Jones, Grace Hill & The Qanirtuuq Incorporated Village Corporation Board: Quinhagak Culture Bearers and Advisors

Alice Watterson: Creative Director, Archaeological Reconstruction Artist, Character Design, Environment and Creature Animation, Artifact Digitalization, Interface Design

John Anderson: Interface Design and Programming

Tom Paxton: Character Design and Animation

Pauline Matthews, Dora Strunk and Lonny Strunk: English to Yup’ik translations.

Crystal Carter: Youth co-ordinator


Jimmy Anaver, Alice Bailey, Pauline Beebe, Lise Bos, Crystal Carter, Joseph Carter, Willard Church, Emily Cleveland, Joshua Cleveland, Annie Don, Charlotta Hillerdal, Grace Hill, Ana Jorge, Rick Knecht, Francis Lukezic, Roy Mark, Julie Masson-MacLean, Edouard Masson-MacLean, Chuna Mcintyre, Alice Watterson, Anna Mossolova, Jonathan Lim, Rufus Rowe, John Smith, Mike Smith, Dora Strunk, Larissa Strunk, Lonny Strunk.

Thanks also to the many people who contributed their support, knowledge, feedback and faces throughout the project, this list includes members of the local community, colleagues, specialists, students, and volunteers. If we have missed out any names we apologize but know that your help was appreciated.

Jimmy Anaver, Alice Bailey, Kieran Baxter, Pauline Beebe, Ellinor Berggren, Dawn Biddison, Brendan Body, Lise Bos, Michael Broderick, Sarah Brown, Crystal Carter, Joseph Carter, Lucy Carter, Sally Carter, Ben Charles, Mary Church, Willard Church, Daniele Clementi, Annie Cleveland, Emily Cleveland, Joshua Cleveland, Aron Crowell, Neil Curtis, Angie Demma, Annie Don, Julia Farley, Patti Fredericks, Tricia Gillam, Sean Gleason, Sven Haakanson, Cheryl Heitman, Grace Hill, Diana Hunter, Joel Isaak, Warren Jones, Stephan Jones, Ana Jorge, Solveig Junglas, Eva Malvich, Melia Knecht, Erika Larsen, Paul Ledger, Jonathan Lim Soon, Amber Lincoln, Hannah Lotta, Steve Luke, Francis Lukezic, Pauline Matthews, Roy Mark, Mhairi Maxwell, Chuna Mcintyre, Drew Michael, Amanda Mina, Anna Mossolova, Carl Nicolai Jr, Chris Niskanen, Molly Odell, Lauren Phillips, Lucy Qin, Charlie Roberts, Chris Rowe, Rufus Rowe, John Rundall, Melissa Shaginoff, Monica Shah, Anna Sloan, Darryl Small Jr, John Smith, Mike Smith, Joey Sparaga, Dora Strunk, Larissa Strunk, Lonny Strunk, Larry Strunk, Robbie Strunk, Prof Chris Rowland, Sandra Toloczko, Richard Vanderhoek, the Quinhagak Dance Group and the staff at Kuinerrarmiut Elitnaurviat.

The resource was funded by The Arts and Humanities Research Council, the University of Aberdeen’s Commercialization Award, the University of Dundee, and the Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design 3DVisLab.

You can download the resource for free here!

Nunalleq Labrets

June 8, 2020

Rick continues his work on documenting the collection. Here you can see some of the Nunalleq labrets (lip plugs) documented in his pictures. An abundance of labrets have been found at Nunalleq, and they were made in a wide variety of different materials and styles. You can see the range of variety in the picture below,

Labrets 1

Labrets can tell you about peoples personal identity and affiliation. These wood labrets have been decorated with stylized seal faces – we believe they tell a family story. The distribution of these within the sod house complex excavated at the site suggests that they represent membership in a single clan or extended family.

Labrets 2

A conversation with Josh in the Delta Discovery

May 26, 2020

Joshua Branstetter, the man behind ‘Children of the Dig’ is interviewed in Delta Discovery about his experience in making the documentary, with contributions from his daughter, Ellie.

Rick on lockdown in Quinhagak

April 23, 2020

The Uni communications team asked for an update on the project progress – and Rick obliged. Here’s the story they wrote.

It’s been picked up by one newspaper so far (that I’m aware); the Penarth Times.

Enjoy the read!

More from Rick’s desk…

March 9, 2020

Labrets, ornamental lip plugs, were commonly worn by peoples on the Bering Sea and the Pacific Rim and we found hundreds at the Nunalleq site. Most were made from wood but we also recovered examples made from various stones, as well as ivory and antler. This set of labrets was made from serpentine. They may have been used by higher status individuals, with the raw material perhaps obtained through long distance trade.



Ivory artefacts from Nunalleq

March 5, 2020

Here are some pictures from Rick’s work with the collection in Quinhagak – displaying the amazing artistry of the Nunalleq inhabitants.


An ivory toggle in the form of an owl with the rear flippers of a seal, representing an animal in the midst of transformation. This close-up view shows some of the tool marks left by the carver. Traces of adhesive in the eye sockets suggest that this piece originally had inset eyes of perhaps a different material. Length about 1.5 inches

ivory toggle

This ivory toggle was probably used as a tie on a woman’s belt. It may represent a spirit being or perhaps a human/bird transformation. It is depicted with a pair of large labrets and the eyes were originally inset with bright pyrites, the remnants of which have now oxidized


This walrus ivory bust is less than an inch high, but is detailed enough to show a pair of large labrets below the lower lip. A large hole drilled in the back of the head admits light that illuminates the eyes slightly, even indoors. In daylight in fact the eyes glow bright red.

Climate change forces Alaska Natives to hunt for new ways to survive

March 4, 2020

A reminder of what the changing climate means for Yup’ik communities: Climate change forces Alaska Natives to hunt for new ways to survive