Sixty Years after Giddings

In 2012, PhD candidate Andy Tremayne, Sara Tremayne, and Kaare Erickson completed a feasibility study at Iyatayet (NOB-002) on Cape Denbigh in the Norton Sound.  This summer, Andy led a small group of volunteers (myself and John Darwent) and interns (Chantelle Nakarak, Elaine Rock, Desiree Rock) in excavating the site.


For those of you unfamiliar with Iyatayet, it’s best known as the type site of the Denbigh Flint Complex. In 1948, J. Louis Giddings was led to the multicomponent site at Iyatayet by two men from the nearby village of Shaktoolik – Lewis Nakarak and Saul Sokpilak. Beneath the Thule and Norton levels, Giddings found a ‘new’ Paleoeskimo culture: the Denbigh Flint Complex. Giddings and his crew worked at Iyatayet until 1952. Sixty years later, the excavation continued. It was a wonderful project to be a part of, and we found a lot of fantastic things (including archaeofauna!). The Shaktoolik Native Corporation (land owner) was very helpful, and everyone in Shaktoolik (especially our main contact, Palmer Sagoonick) were incredibly welcoming. I definitely hope to continue working in the area next summer! 


If you want to know more about the exciting data recovered from Iyatayet this summer, keep an eye out for Andy’s forthcoming report and dissertation.


2013 ACZ Workshop

Hello everyone!  Apologies that I haven’t posted anything recently – my New Year’s resolution was to post at least twice a month… but that hasn’t happened (like most New Year’s resolutions).  Regardless, I want all of you to know about the great workshop that the Alaska Consortium of Zooarchaeologists will be holding on March 13th during the Alaska Anthropological Association (aaa) Annual Meeting in Anchorage:

Archaeological Data Management and Research using tDAR and Neotoma/ Discussion of Faunal Collection and Curation

The workshop will be divided into two sessions.  During the first session, Leigh Anne Ellison (Center for Digital Antiquity) and Michael Etnier (Dept. of Anthropology, University of Washington) will discuss the growing use of digital archaeological data.  They will lead discussions on what digital archaeological data are, how they are generated, digital preservation/curation techniques, and related federal laws and regulations.  Ellison will talk about the importance of the Digital Archaeological Record (tDAR, and how to use it, while Etnier will discuss the Neotoma Paleoecology Internet Database and Community for Tracking Archaeofauna Assemblages from Alaska.  The second session will provide examples and an open forum for discussion of best practices in faunal collection, research design, and curation. 

To register for the workshop, please sign up through the ACZ website at  Costs are $40 for professionals and $15 for students (until March 8th, after which price increases by $5).

Hope to see you there!

A Defense, a Thesis, and a Wedding

Hurray! I have finally completed my Masters in Anthropology!  Oh, and I got married, too.  In the space of a week, I went from “Miss” to “Mrs., M.A.”  It’s been a whirlwind summer.  In case anyone out there in cyberland even still looks at my blog (which is doubtful, considering my lack of posts), I will be uploading a pdf of my thesis in the very near future.

Additionally, my shiny new husband and I will be departing our beloved state of Alaska in less than a week.  We’re moving to the greener academic pastures of California, where I’ll begin my stab at a PhD (continuing to focus on Alaskan zooarchaeology).  Wish me luck!

Upcoming ACZ Workshop

To those of you who plan on attending the 39th Annual Meeting of the Alaska Anthropological Association (held in Seattle this year), and those of you who are in the Seattle area: consider registering for the Alaska Consortium of Zooarchaeologists’s (ACZ) workshop on February 29th!

We’ll be touring the faunal collections at the Burke Museum and the National Marine Mammal Laboratory (NMML).  Although our focus will be on marine mammal comparative specimens at both venues, it would also be a good day to arrange a peek at the other vertebrate specimens at the Burke (they have one of the largest bird skeletal collections in the country).

If you are interested, you MUST register before February 15th!!!!

(go to


Wow, I apologize for being MIA for the past 4 months!  Summer field season was busy and, as always, fantastic.  I love field work in Alaska!  Nothing ever goes as planned, but that’s part of the fun, eh?  Here’s a short synopsis of some of my travels:

Sand Point (Popof Island) – Did you know that there is a beach covered in chunks of petrified metasequoia (probably washed up from the Miocene-era petrified forest on nearby Unga Island)? So cool!

Kiana (Kobuk River)  – Kiana is probably the most beautifully-situated village I’ve been to.  It’s located on a bluff overlooking the confluence of the Squirrel and Kobuk Rivers, with the Baird Mountains (western extension of the Brooks Range) rising up behind it (breathtaking on a sunny day!).  Please forgive my awkwardly-shot-from-the-Caravan photo… it doesn’t do it justice!

Upper and Lower Kalskag (Kuskokwim River) – I hadn’t been to Kalskag since 2004, but the people there are as amazing and friendly as ever!  It is definitely one of my favorite places.

Kaktovik (Barter Island) – Although waves and a skillsaw kept us from boating out east to our objective of Demarcation Bay (USFWS won’t let anyone land helicopters or planes in ANWR…sigh), we had a fairly productive and wonderful time around Kaktovik!  I saw my first real-life-up-close polar bears and got some great snapshots of the random Bowhead whale bones propped up against people’s houses.  More importantly, I surveyed my first Inupiat semisubterranean housepits (beautiful!), and on the way home I got to see the famous Ukpiagvik site in Barrow!

So now it’s autumn, and I don’t have the excuse of not being near a computer to explain my lack of blog updates… Instead, I’m going to use the tried and true “I’m busy.”  Currently I am trying to write my MA thesis (final NISP = 8,536, hurrah!), work, apply to PhD programs, move, plan a wedding, and in general keep my sanity.  So if I don’t update regularly during the next few months, those are my excuses.   : )

Please do keep checking back periodically, though, I have a bunch of interesting topics I’d like to discuss!

Summer Update

Well, I have a bunch of subjects that I’d like to research and blog about, but unfortunately ’tis the field season, and I am booked!  I’m off to Grayling next week, then back for a  kid’s archaeology camp, then Sand Point and Dutch Harbor, then Kiana and Noorvik… and then at some point Upper and Lower Kalskag, Kaktovik, and others (which I’m all very excited about, as most of them are new places for me!).  I’ll be back when I can with blogs about (hopefully) interesting things… I want to talk about radiocarbon dating bone in the Arctic, ivory/bone/antler differentiation, gnawmark differentiation, and animal counts.  I’d also like to tell you about a couple more  interesting books that have lovely little ethnozoological tidbits.  We all dream big, though, don’t we?  I’ll be back at some point.  I hope all of you are enjoying your field seasons and the lengthening days as much as I am!