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Artefact of the Day 7/8

August 9, 2014

veroThe artefact of the day is an item, or rather structure, that already made it to the blog. It is the grass mat/wall discovered by Veró. It is the first clearly defined wall structure we have, and it confirms the sentiment we had for a while – that the inner walls of the Nunalleq house are lined with grass. It also explains at least some of the pale clay patches we have mottled through the site – these are degraded grass. The excitement does not stop here. Except for the board walk, the only structural evidence we have for the architecture are posts, and posts without walls are like stars – you can connect them in infinite ways to make up shapes. Our interpretation of the orientation and shape of the rooms has changed from day to day depending on possible sod wall impressions, tunnels and house floor extensions. This wall cannot be argued with, and contribute largely to our understanding of layout an architecture of the house.


grass wall

One Comment leave one →
  1. August 19, 2014 12:39

    The use of large grass mats as room dividers and wall coverings is well document by photos up into the 1940’s by photographs thru out the Coastal Yupik area. Folks tend to ignore the detail available in many older photographs. The Jesuit archives are available in the state archives I believe and contain many photos with important ethnographic detail.
    My late wife was from Newtok and our many relatives can be found from Chevak to Chefornak.. Although she was born in 1962, she could remember living in a sod semi-subterranean house in Nightmute when she was five. She remembered leaving her winter village by dog sled and not returning until the middle of October. Her family had camps for seal hunting, herring, pikefish, geese, etc. Altogether her father had around 12 camps and they used 6 or 7 depending on the weather. Her father used a Qayaq to hunt and used a bird spear and throwing stick when he ran short of shotgun shells. I have followed your excavation and realize that only now are you beginning to understand the Central Yupik culture. I also realize that my experience with my Yupik family makes it easier to understand the significance of the architecture and artifacts your group has uncovered. Also the dating of the “Bow and Arrow Wars” (there were several) is a bit surprising but interesting., This site was probably the home of the Aglemuit Yupik before they fled to Bristol Bay and Nunivak Island.

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