Archaeologists uncover 200-year-old Alaska village

Aug 02, 2013

Brown University archaeologists have uncovered the site of a village in northwest Alaska that's believed to be at least 200 years old.

The dig is in Kobuk Valley National Park about 20 miles up the Kobuk River from the community of Kiana, according to KSKA (http://is.gd/0A7kSC).

Arctic archaeologist Doug Anderson estimates about 200 people lived in the village, which he believes was a regional capital. Researchers think the village dates from the late 1700s to the early 1800s, just before initial contact with explorers.

Anderson said he's never seen a site quite like the one uncovered where so many houses were connected by a web of tunnels. He has been in archaeologist for more than 50 years, specializing in prehistory and early history of northwest Alaska.

"In some other areas here we've found maybe two houses that are connected by tunnels, but nothing like this," Anderson said. "And in other areas those houses are really quite small compared the houses here; these are gigantic houses."

The are the size of a one-room cabin and are dug about 4 feet (1.2 meters) into the ground. The structures are framed by spruce beams and poles with sod and earth walls and a fireplace at the center.

Researchers found signs that villagers lived closely with dogs. They also found two sets of human remains in one dwelling. One of the sets was of a young child, while the other was a man with a broken leg. The remains eventually will be returned for burial.

Kiana is 510 miles (800 kilometers) northwest of Anchorage and 57 miles (90 kilometers) east of Kotzebue.

The archaeology team is working with the Kiana Traditional Council and the National Park Service to ensure the project moves forward.

Inupiat Eskimo Thomas Jackson said his mother told them when he was a child that his ancestors had lived in an old village in the area.

"You, you're a descendent from these people," Jackson said. "That's the first time I've heard this as a child."

Kiana resident Debba Barr toured the site.

"It makes me feel proud," she said. "And it's a little bit overwhelming when you see all the hard work and all the stuff that we did compared to how we live now."

Barr would like to know how the houses were built—and so would researchers. They found no tools at the dig, so how the subterranean dwellings were constructed remains unknown.

Explore further: Two 6,000-year-old 'halls of the dead' unearthed, in UK first

More information: KSKA-FM, www.kska.org

4.8 /5 (9 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Radar search to find lost Aboriginal burial site

Jul 22, 2014

Scientists said Tuesday they hope that radar technology will help them find a century-old Aboriginal burial ground on an Australian island, bringing some closure to the local indigenous population.

Archaeologists excavate NY Colonial battleground

Jul 19, 2014

Archaeologists are excavating an 18th-century battleground in upstate New York that was the site of a desperate stand by Colonial American troops, the flashpoint of an infamous massacre and the location of the era's largest ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

robweeve
1 / 5 (9) Aug 02, 2013
what about the underground pyramid in Alaska, larger that The Great pyramid?
VendicarE
2.7 / 5 (3) Aug 03, 2013
That pyramid is where the Predator aliens combat the Alien aliens.

Can you explain to us why you don't capitalize the first words of your sentences?

No Edjamkashion Muchlie?