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Nunalleq under the microscope

February 5, 2013

Scott preparing the wood for analysisNunalleq woodThere are, and were, no trees growing locally at Nunalleq.  All the wood we find in the excavation must therefore have been driftwood. Despite wood not being a local resource, about 80% of the artefacts at Nunalleq are made out of wood – it was clearly not a scarce commodity. Being driftwood, however, it could come from all over the world – for example years after devastating Japanese tsunami debris from Japan ended up on Alaskan shores.  Who knows then what exciting stories the Nunalleq wood can tell us? One person that might help us answer that question is what kind of wood is this?Dr Scott Timpany, who this winter did a first identification of a few of the assorted sticks (wood-bag content) from Nunalleq. After slicing millimetre thin pieces of wood of the stick ends and preparing them for the analysis – he could put them under the microscope to see the wood’s cell structure – different in all species. Alaska sitka spruceThese sticks, he concluded, did not seem such far travellers, as they were all made out of spruce – incidentally the Alaska state tree. These particular ones might even have come from up the ArolikRiver. It is most likely however, that different kinds of wood were used for different kinds of artefacts; house hold goods, means of transportation, hunting weapons, and works of art might all need its special kind of wood. Future analysis will tell…


One Comment leave one →
  1. Christina Young permalink
    February 8, 2013 09:22

    This is so exciting! I wish I could be at the University to see all of this unfold but I’m so glad that it’s being posted here so all the non-Aberdeenians can stay on top of the newest parts of our collective adventure! I am so excited to hear more as everyone gets settled in! I miss our Quinhagak crew and hope everyone is doing well! Best from the Alaskan in Oregon – Christina.

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