Skip to comments.Research Team Discovers Village (Ancient Bering Sea Island)
Posted on 01/30/2007 4:04:22 PM PST by blam
Research team discovers village
OSU News Service
A team of researchers, led by Oregon State University anthropologist Deanna Kingston, has discovered a prehistoric village on a tiny island in the Bering Sea. The archaeological site, shown by carbon dating to be 800 to 900 years old, indicates that King Island, Alaska, was inhabited by Inupiat walrus hunters for at least a millennium.
The effort is part of a four-year study of the plants, birds, place names, dialect and culture of King Island, supported by two grants from the National Science Foundation, one for $540,000 and another for $23,000. Kingston whose team includes an archaeologist, an ornithologist, a botanist, a linguist and 30 elder King Island volunteers is working to preserve the traditional ecological knowledge of King Islanders, who today use their homeland only as a seasonal hunting camp.
Like many other Alaska native communities, King Islanders possess deep and unique knowledge about the natural world upon which they have depended for centuries, said Kingston, whose mother grew up on the island.
They lived on the ice and the land for generations, but their culture is now threatened by a rapidly changing climate that is melting the ice and pushing walruses farther and farther offshore.
Kingston last visited Alaska in December to work on a map with Inupiaq elder Teddy Mayac and a group of others who grew up on King Island. Together, they have mapped almost all 150 place names so far.
My team (including brother Scott Kingston and graduate research assistant Kai Henifin) made audiotapes of the elders pronouncing some of the names of all the places, Kingston said, noting that only about 100 native speakers are living today. We would like to keep some aspect of the language alive, so having the pronunciation recorded is very important.
Kingston plans to release a DVD for King Island community members in late 2007 documenting the data and knowledge gathered by the team.
One of Kingstons biggest rewards was bringing elder community members back to the island to assist with the research. King Island has not been inhabited since 1966.
Other than the hunters who still go back regularly, many of the elders had not been there in many years, she said. People noticed birds on the island that were never there before, which could be a result of climate change.
The key, says Kingston, is to document as much of the knowledge of the King Islanders as possible before it is lost.
ON THE NET
OSU anthropologist Deanna Kingstons work with the King Islanders is the cover story of OSU research magazine Terras newest issue. For more, see http://oregonstate.edu/terra.
Grant Money is Mothers Milk to the Global Alarmists
The only articles you will ever see in the MSM about science any more will have some sort of climate change aspect to them. Must subscribe to the Party line or the grant money will dry up.
I spent a lot of time in rural Alaska. Just about anywhere one stops and thinks "Wow, this would be a nice place to have a house / camp / global warming research station" will be someplace that someone else thought the same thing in the past 10,000 years. A lot of them established encampments and there is always some stuff that got left behind if you know how and where to look.
Of course, they were all too busy surviving to worry about much of the meaningless BS that researchers who have too much time on their hands get involved with these days.
In Glacier Bay, Alaska a friend told me the story of how the Indians in that area have for years have told the legend of how their ancestors got the ice god angry, and the ice god drove them from their village. After many years the ice god let them return to their village.
Digs, etc. have figured out that the glacier came down the bay and forced them to resettle on an island or a pennesula or something to the south. The glacier retreated (and is continuing to retreat) and the Indians again occupy the first village!
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The corner of Alaska nearest Siberia was probably man's first threshold to the Western Hemisphere. So for years archeologists have dug there for a clue to America's prehistoric past. Until last year, all the finds were obviously Eskimo. Then Anthropologists Froelich G. Rainey of the University of Alaska and two collaborators struck the remains of a town, of incredible size and mysterious culture. Last week in Natural History Professor Rainey, still somewhat amazed, described this lost Arctic city.
It lies at Ipiutak on Point Hope, a bleak sandspit in the Arctic Ocean, where no trees and little grass survive endless gales at 30° below zero. But where houses lay more than 2,000 years ago, underlying refuse makes grass and moss grow greener. The scientists could easily discern traces of long avenues and hundreds of dwelling sites. A mile long, a quarter-mile wide, this ruined city was perhaps as big as any in Alaska today (biggest: Juneau, pop. 5,700).
On the Arctic coast today an Eskimo village of even 250 folk can catch scarcely enough seals, whales, caribou to live on. What these ancient Alaskans ate is all the more puzzling because they seem to have lacked such Arctic weapons as the Eskimo harpoon.
Yet they had enough leisure to make many purely artistic objects, some of no recognizable use. Their carvings are vaguely akin to Eskimo work but so sophisticated and elaborate as to indicate a relation with some centre of advanced culture perhaps Japan or southern Siberia certainly older than the Aztec or Mayan.
In the ancient graves the scientists found more than in the ruined houses. Some skulls contain large ivory eyeballs inlaid with jet pupils (see cut, p. 59). Birdlike ivory beaks were substituted for the corpse's nose. Who were these people? How did they manage to live? Whence did they come, whither did they go? Says Professor Rainey: "We, as archeologists, have a difficult problem to explain the Ipiutak culture."
Point Hope Alaska, today
Because of the climate, artic tundra and short work periods, archeologists do not know how long the islands have been inhabited. Nor do they know how long the Inuits (eskimos) have been in the region. Indeed, I can say that they have been there since before the last Ice Age and no one can prove otherwise.
And, the burden of proof would be on those would deny the obvious.
No wonder I can't find any images...
In the 1940s three archaeologists, two Americans and one Danish colleague, began to excavate on the north Alaskan coast at a place called Ipiutak. This site near Pt. Hope, Alaska, was the locale of a proto-Inuit [Eskimo] community active approximately 1500 YPB. The Ipiutak excavations, funded by the Works Projects Administration (WPA), produced an astonishing array of jade and ivory carvings declared the most amazing treasures ever found in the Arctic. At the start of WWII the two Americans archaeologists left the Pt. Hope excavations because of the war, leaving the Danish archaeologist to continue and complete the on-site work. One shipment of the artifacts went back to New York to be photographed, but on its return to Alaska, the ship it was on, an Army barge, sank en route to Juneau. There may have been a second barge from Pt. Hope, loaded with Ipiutak artifacts, lost not far offshore in the shallow ice-infested area of strong currents of the Bering Strait. A portion of the collections apparently ended up in the Danish National Museum, and a portion of these collections remained in the U.S., but a significant portion of the collections are apparently carefully packaged and intact on the seafloor within one or two shipwrecks. A multi-agency plan to face the significant challenges to the recovery of the Treasures of Ipiutak is presented, along with photographs of some of the treasures known to be on the seafloor.
Available to subscribers and IEEE members.
The Ipiutak culture is now extinct...
Tigara and Ipiutak:
Two Alaska Ghost Cities
King Island, Alaska. The large boulders on the top of the island are barely visible through the fog.