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Day One; July 3, 2015     Find of the day: Tool Cache

July 5, 2015

This year we want to define the limits of the very large multiple-room house that was being occupied when it was burned in the mid-17th century, during the period known to Yup’ik oral historians as the Bow and Arrow Wars. So today we cut the sods from 8 more 2 x 2 meter excavation units on the east side of our block. The burned roof sods are only 10-15 cm under the ground surface so some artifacts became apparent as we removed the root mass of the grassy sods.

We recovered a complete ground slate ulu blade, several adze blades and adze blade preforms but the most spectacular find today was a cache of more than 20 objects, probably representing the remains of a tool kit.   There were two fish lures of walrus bone, which can be almost as dense as ivory, so these were in great condition. Somewhat less well preserved but still solid were several pieces of worked antler and some bone awl tips.   One nearly complete awl had been made from a caribou ulna, with the distal end of the bone sharpened to a point. There were also several mudstone hones or sharpening stones as well as a ground slate lance point and a point tip. But the most amazing piece was a carving tool complete with a caribou antler handle with the beaver incisor bit still hafted into its end. We have found several of these hafted carving tools in the past but until now all of the bits have been made from porcupine teeth rather than beaver.


Since we are digging so close to the surface we aren’t getting good wood preservation yet, although we do have the remains of rotted roof beams and a few wood house posts protruding up from earlier layers. In previous years we have found a good deal of pottery among the roof beams and some pot sherds are already in evidence as well.

Now we will carefully expose the burned roof and the house floor immediately below to learn more about the tragic end of the village and pre-contact Yup’ik warfare.


2 Comments leave one →
  1. Marjorie permalink
    July 5, 2015 20:20

    Awesome find. I hope every day brings discoveries such as this!

  2. July 8, 2015 17:37

    Doing a super job you guys. Been there a couple times to visit while traveling down the beach. I do have items my late mother and I found over thirty years ago. I know of other people now gone who sold wooden bowls and other items from the same area. Used to have a mask found at that site I left in the shed but Christianity took over and they destroyed it. Was sad when found about it.

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