Obsidian pebbles from the Wiki Peak source in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve. NPS photo by Jeff Rasic.

Archaeology Month

Alaska Archaeology Month
April is Archaeology Month in Alaska, a time to reflect on Alaska’s rich and exceptionally long-lived cultural traditions that we understand, in part, through archaeological research. It’s also an opportunity to raise awareness about preservation of the archaeological record, a non-renewable resource relentlessly subjected to a range of threats. Learn more about Alaska’s past at a series of events–public talks, exhibits, hands-on activities–happening across the state. And watch for the latest installment of the Alaska Archaeology Month poster coming to to schools schools, libraries, and museums throughout Alaska. (More info.)

The Ocean Bay Tradition

More than 7,500 years ago, Alaska’s first maritime specialists emerged along the southern coasts. Called Ocean Bay—and the ancestors of today’s Alutiiq—they deftly navigated the Shelikof Strait and were the first to cross to Kodiak Island. Along the way, they took full advantage of the sea life variety the currents presented them: seals, sea lions, clams, otters, even porpoises on occasion. They used the skins to craft small boats in which they plied some of the most challenging and productive waters in the world, routinely facing off against big mammals with sharp teeth. Creating semipermanent settlements along the coasts, Ocean Bay people were pioneers of maritime skill and living that wouldn’t become common until millennia later. To master their watery environment, they quarried slate from outcrops where specialists refined the rock to create bayonets. Others crafted stone lamps that, when filled with sea mammal blubber oil, provided gathering places in the winter darkness. Other items became refined maritime tools as well: clam picks made of bone, sea mammal bone hooks for deep-sea fishing, and kelp fishing line.

Events (2018)

IN CONTEXT: Community-Based Archaeology

April 4, 10 a.m. to noon

Anchorage Museum, Reynolds Room, 625 C Street, Anchorage, AK

The Anchorage Museum In Context series are seasonal classes featuring art, science, history or anthropology experts who illuminate themes explored in the museum’s exhibitions and collections. $20 non-members. Registration recommended.

  • 10 to 11 a.m.: Hear from Rick Knecht, PhD, via WebEx, about the Nunalleq archaeological site that is threatened by melting permafrost and rising sea levels, a University of Aberdeen partnership with the Qanirtuuq Village Corporation and the Yup’ik village of Quinhagak. The study has uncovered small masks, snow goggles and many other organic materials that are exceptionally well preserved. The Nunalleq site is yielding material from the 15th to 18th centuries.
  • 11 to noon: Please join us for Truth of Oral Tradition: Archaeological Confirmation of Northern Indigenous Histories with Aron Crowell, PhD, of the Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center. Stories of remarkable events that occurred centuries ago– from wars, famines and migrations to geological cataclysms – are preserved in the oral traditions of Arctic and subarctic peoples. Communities and scientists are working together to uncover physical evidence that confirms these ancient events and reveals when they took place. The Truth of Oral Tradition explores this confluence of indigenous and scientific knowledge, focusing on Alaska examples.

Museum Behind-the-Scenes: Library Collections

April 4, 2 to 4 p.m.

Anchorage Museum625 C Street, Anchorage, AK

Go behind the scenes at the Anchorage Museum and discover the science — and secrets — of how museum’s care for their remarkable collections. See how conservators and archivists care for the museum’s thousands of cultural objects, archival photographs and more. Learn how the science of conservation work helps unlock the secrets and long-lost information of an object’s past. See through the trained eye of museum specialist. Explore what specific techniques reveal the unique character and significance of historical material. Get tips from museum experts you can use at home for repairing books, preserving photographs and cleaning and caring for art. Included with admission.

Mission 49: Journey to Alaska’s Past Scavenger Hunt

April 6, 3:45 to 7:00 p.m.

Alaska State Museum, Juneau, AK

Celebrate Alaska Archaeology Month with the U.S. Forest Service and the Alaska State Museum at the launch of our Agents of Discovery Mission Site. Free admission. Refreshments provided. The Salmon Forest film showing. Mission 49 is a scavenger hunt phone app encouraging  kids to move and play, and learn about stewardship, sustainability, and Alaska Native cultures. Follow on Twitter: @AKAgentNFS. More info: https://www.discovertheforest.org/agentsofdiscovery/

Lecture: Ancient Beringians and the Peopling of the Americas with Ben Potter, PhD.

April 6, 6 p.m.

Anchorage Museum625 C Street, Anchorage, AK

Join archeologist Dr. Ben Potter for an introduction to discoveries at the Upward Sun River archaeology site, an ancient campsite in Interior Alaska. These include the earliest human burials in northern North America, the oldest house feature in Alaska, and the earliest use of salmon in the entire Western Hemisphere. Recent genetic analyses reveal a previously unknown group of people, called the Ancient Beringians. These finds are transforming what we know about the earliest peoples in the Americas.

Bank of America Museums on Us

April 7, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Anchorage Museum625 C Street, Anchorage, AK

Present your Bank of America and Merrill Lynch card for free museum admission the first Saturday of every month. Valid for one free admission ticket per cardholder; non-transferable. Bank of America cardholders also receive a 10 percent discount on purchases at the Anchorage Museum Shore on these days. No other discounts apply.

Exhibit: Qeshka (Dena’ina Chief’s) House

Beginning April 9, 6 p.m.

Dorothy page Museum, Wasilla, AK

Knik Tribal Council will stage a temporary exhibit about Qeshka (Dena’ina Chief’s) house at Knik during  Archaeology month. An exhibit open house will commence with an introduction from a Knik tribal member and presentation by curators David Yesner and Fran Seager-Boss. Light refreshments will be served.

Museum Behind-the-Scenes: Object Collections

April 11, 2 to 4 p.m.

Anchorage Museum625 C Street, Anchorage, AK

Go behind the scenes at the Anchorage Museum and discover the science — and secrets — of how museum’s care for their remarkable collections. See how conservators and archivists care for the museum’s thousands of cultural objects, archival photographs and more. Learn how the science of conservation work helps unlock the secrets and long-lost information of an object’s past. See through the trained eye of museum specialist. Explore what specific techniques reveal the unique character and significance of historical material. Get tips from museum experts you can use at home for repairing books, preserving photographs and cleaning and caring for art. New topics each week. Included with admission.

Unsettled: Wikipedia Edit-a-thon

April 16, 5 to 8 p.m.

Anchorage Museum, Atrium, 625 C Street, Anchorage, AK

A Wikipedia Edit-a-thon is a community-organized event that aims to introduce people to how to edit, update and add articles on Wikipedia. Learn how to spread information by helping to add Western indigenous artists to Wikipedia in conjunction with the opening of the Unsettled exhibition.

IN CONTEXT: Alaska History Lessons with Beverly Beeton, PhD

April 18, 10 a.m. to noon

Anchorage Museum, Reynolds Room, 625 C Street, Anchorage, AK

The Anchorage Museum In Context series are seasonal classes featuring art, science, history or anthropology experts who illuminate themes explored in the museum’s exhibitions and collections. $20 for non-members, registration recommended.

  • 10 to 11 a.m.: Seattle-based historian Beverly Beeton, PhD, presents Alaska Women Voted: But They Weren’t Unsexed and Didn’t Neglect Wifely Duties. Thanks to the first law passed by Alaska’s First Territorial Legislature 105 years ago, Alaska women joined women of nine Western States and legally voted for the first time in 1914, seven years before the 20th Amendment made it illegal to deny voting rights on basis of gender.
  • 11 to noon: Beeton continues the history lesson with her talk titled 1918 Flu Pandemic: Kansas Pig Farms to WWI Soldiers to Alaska Native on Bering Sea to You. Called “The Spanish Flu,” the 1918 influenza killed more people in a year than the Black Death killed in a century and more in 24 months than AIDs killed in 24 years. More Americans died from this flu than were killed in WWI, WWII, Korea and Vietnam combined. This story will be told using the Alaska flu experience as a case study.

Museum Behind-the-Scenes: Conservation

April 25, 2 to 4 p.m.

Anchorage Museum, Atrium, 625 C Street, Anchorage, AK

Go behind the scenes at the Anchorage Museum and discover the science — and secrets — of how museum’s care for their remarkable collections. See how conservators and archivists care for the museum’s thousands of cultural objects, archival photographs and more. Learn how the science of conservation work helps unlock the secrets and long-lost information of an object’s past. See through the trained eye of museum specialist. Explore what specific techniques reveal the unique character and significance of historical material. Get tips from museum experts you can use at home for repairing books, preserving photographs and cleaning and caring for art. New topics each week. Included with admission.

Public Lecture: The Hidden and The Obvious, Two Different Styles of Kodiak Petroglyphs

April 26, 7:00 p.m.

Alutiiq Museum, Kodiak, AK

Learn about ancient rock art traditions in the Kodiak archipelago from Curator of Archaeology Patrick Saltonstall. $5 suggested donation.

Novarupta and the Creation of Katmai National Park

April 28, 10 am-3 p.m.

University of Alaska-Anchorage, Lucy Cuddy Hall

In commemoration of Katmai National Park and Preserve’s Centennial, several keynote speakers will present on the 1912 Novarupta eruption that initiated the creation of this one hundred year-old National Park unit, and the effect of the eruption on surrounding Alaska Native villages. The event will feature world-class geologists, Alaska Native cultural leaders, and traditional Sugpiaq dancing. Lunch and refreshments will be provided free of charge.

The Nineteenth Annual Alaska Atlatl (Spearthrower) Fun Throw and Competition

May 5th, noon until 5 p.m.

Alaska Native Heritage Center, Anchorage, AK

Events include distance and accuracy throws, throwing from kayak at a seal target, and throwing at Pleistocene animal targets. Come bag yourself a mammoth!  This is a free event, open to all 8 years old and up. For information call Richard VanderHoek at (907) 269-8728.