**Field School, 2013**
WHEN: August 1 2013 – Aug 29, 2013
WHO: No experience necessary. Participants must be 18 or over. You must be able and willing to work in Alaskan wilderness conditions.
COST: $600(USD)/week includes food, housing and local ground transportation. You should plan to participate for a minimum of two consecutive weeks.
TO APPLY: Send a short letter of interest and your resume or CV to Rick Knecht (firstname.lastname@example.org) by May 1st, 2013
The University of Aberdeen Department of Archaeology, in partnership with the village corporation Qanirtuuq, Inc. and the Yup’ik Eskimo village of Quinhagak, is working to record archaeological sites threatened by rising sea levels along the Bering Sea.
The goals of this project are to:
- Generate new information about the prehistory and culture of the Yup’ik people by recovering artefacts and other materials from actively eroding archaeological sites.
- Evaluate the impact of rising sea levels on the cultural resources in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta and develop locally based expertise and facilities to address those impacts.
- Create new educational and economic opportunities for the people of Quinhagak and surrounding region.
- Provide training and experience in community-based archaeological research for a new generation of scientists, land managers and community leaders.
- Produce data about human adaptations to past climate change that will be relevant for local decision makers dealing with the effects of global warming.
For the 2013 field season we will focus on excavation of the Nunalleq Site (GDN-248), a late prehistoric village with exceptionally well-preserved organic remains. The site was occupied just before and during with the Little Ice Age around 1400 AD and data from the site will be important to our understanding of past climate change.
The Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta is an area three times the size of Scotland, yet its prehistory remains very poorly known. Our excavation at Nunalleq is the largest ever done in the area and the material we recover will give us the first detailed look at the prehistory of this very significant culture area.
Artefacts and features at the Nunalleq site are spectacular and abundant. The combination of permafrost and moist soil conditions have preserved wood, fur, bark, claws and other organic materials and are giving us an remarkably clear view of prehistoric Yup’ik culture. At least 80% of the artefacts we will recover will be made from wood and will need special care in handling and recording. Digging at this site will demand a good deal of care and attention to detail. It is also likely to produce some of the most remarkable finds of your archaeological career.
This year (2013) we will excavate a complete semi-subterranean sod house. We hope to define the edges of the house as well as probable side rooms and entry ways and expose the floors. Careful mapping of all the finds will help us determine what kinds of activities went on in various areas of the dwelling.
Working with our partners in Quinhagak, we will combine locally based traditional knowledge with academic research methods to reconstruct the prehistoric roots of modern Yup’ik culture. The artefacts are the property of Qanirtuuq, Inc. and will be on loan to the University of Aberdeen while they are being conserved, catalogued and analyzed. The collection is expected to return to Alaska at the end of the project.
There will be a chance to learn survey skills as well; we will use GPS surveying equipment to record new sites in the area.
For the 2013 field season, students are expected to arrange and pay for their own round trip airfare. Book your tickets to Anchorage, then to Bethel, the hub city for the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. Try to arrive on July 31 at the latest.
Please note that staying over night in Bethel is expensive and that it can be hard to find a room. It is therefore advisable to arrive in Bethel on a morning or early afternoon flight, so you can be sure to catch a plane to Quinhagak on the same day. Likewise, make sure to book your ticket back from Bethel in the afternoon to give you time to fly from Quinhagak in the morning. However, even the best laid plans… please be aware that weather can sometimes interfere with travel schedules, so prepare to be flexible. You can find the flight time table here: http://www.flygrant.com/schedule-bethel.php#quinhagak. Upon arrival in Bethel airport you will jump into the Grant Aviation van, which will take you to the Grant Aviation airstrip. We will notify Grant aviation about your arrival times. From Bethel you will board a small plane to Quinhagak where you will be met at the airstrip and taken to camp.
You will purchase your Bethel-Quinhagak tickets in Bethel. It costs roughly US $350 to fly return between Bethel and Quinhagak, so make sure and bring those funds with you.
Email your travel itineraries to Charlotta Hillerdal (email@example.com) in Aberdeen. If there are any changes to your travel plans contact us at once by e-mail and/or cell phone (see contact information). Otherwise we may be unable to meet you in Quinhagak.
Housing will be in a large Quonset style building in the village of Quinhagak. Some beds and foam mattresses are provided, however you should plan to bring your own air mattress along with your sleeping bag.
Breakfast and dinner will be served in camp and lunches will be packed and eaten in the field. There are a few showers with hot water and laundry facilities are located in the village a short distance away. Camp staff will prepare dinners but you should be prepared to help out as needed with camp chores as they arise. This is not a hotel but a community-based research project and we are there to help make it a success.
Expect occasional foul weather, mosquitoes, and outdoor toilets, there will also be abundant wildlife and one of the best fishing streams in Alaska on your doorstep. Ask questions; camp staff will give you good advice about staying safe, warm and comfortable. Fresh salmon will be on the menu.
Our field season is short and the archaeological sites are eroding quickly; therefore we will work a six-day week with Sundays free. Typically, breakfast is served at 7:30 am and the van will begin transporting people to the site at 8;30. Before you leave for the day you will need to have your gear packed; rain gear, extra clothing, bug repellent, field notes, water bottle, camera and whatever else you need for the day. We will eat lunch on site and pack up to leave at 6pm. Days will be long and physically demanding, so please be prepared for hard work! Occasionally we will leave earlier if the weather becomes especially difficult, however we will usually remain in the field in light rain. A tent shelter and toilet facility is located near the site. In the worst weather we may remain in camp and do laboratory processing of artefacts and samples. Evenings after dinner include a short briefing about the research, finds of the day and our plans for tomorrow. The rest of the evening is free time.
Dr. Rick Knecht
Senior Lecturer in Archaeology, University of Aberdeen
General Manager, Qanirtuuq Inc., Alaska
Field School Director
Dr. Charlotta Hillerdal
Lecturer in Archaeology, University of Aberdeen
Project Scientific Coordinator
Dr. Kate Britton
Lecturer in Archaeological Science, University of Aberdeen