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A first week at Nunalleq

July 7, 2018

We have been digging in Nunalleq for almost a week, and with the extension of the trench to the erosion edge we are digging in two different time periods at once – which is kind of mind boggling. The new trench, T-block, is in the very last moment of Nunalleq’s existence as a house, when it was attacked and burned, and in the eastern part of our excavation block, our old trench, we are exploring the very first occupation at the Nunalleq site. About 150 years separates the people on the top from the people at the bottom.


In the ‘old house’ we have made some nice finds of artwork in the small house floors that have been excavated so far.


Like this wooden doll with a head painted with red ocher, and a carving of a Palraiyuk, a mythical beast that once terrified kayakers in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. Red ocher pigment still adheres to this creature’s eyes.


In the ‘new house’ we have found a cache of ground slate preforms, knives and points found on a housefloor at the Nunalleq site. The floor is stained with brightly colored ash from wood and sod burned when the house was destroyed by attackers from another village sometime around 1670, ending centuries of occupation at the site.

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