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Prehistoric Yup’ik architecture

August 10, 2012

Today we uncovered what appears to be the doorway to a long entrance tunnel that would have led to a main room and attached side rooms.  The architecture we have seen on the site so far is very similar to late prehistoric Thule houses from north Alaska.  The entrance tunnel was roofed with short split driftwood planks covered with a layer of sod. There was a thick layer of charcoal and ash, especially on the doorway area.  Oral tradition from the ‘bow and arrow wars’ tell of people being trapped in their sod houses by attackers, only to be smoked out and killed when the sod houses were set on fire.  It is quite possible that this is what happened here;  we found at least 16 slate end blades from arrow points in this burned entry area, at least one of which was embedded in a house post near the former entry.

The entry tunnels on Thule houses were lined with short planks and with a plank floor about 1 meter below the roof.  Often there were small side rooms at right angles to the tunnels.  It appears that our Yup’ik house might follow that pattern as well.  Entry tunnels were also used to store food and gear so we may uncover evidence of these as well.  The next few days will be crucial as we piece this puzzle together.

Rick

One Comment leave one →
  1. February 26, 2013 12:30

    My relatives always say that I am killing my time here at net,
    however I know I am getting knowledge every day by reading
    such pleasant posts.

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