Hidden home hundreds of years old unearthed as Quinhagak readies cultural center

Monday, 04 September 2017, 07:01:27 AM. The remote village in a cash-poor region is running a research repository for ancient artifacts dating to the time before contact with Russians and other outsiders.
1 of 30 Full Screen Autoplay Close Skip Ad × Caption Buy This Photo The Nunalleq archaeological site sits next to the Bering Sea near Quinhagak. The dig is filled back in at the end of the season to protect it in winter, and sandbags are packed across the face of the bluff to slow erosion. (Sven Haakanson) Wait 1 second to continue. BETHEL — For nearly a decade, archaeological crews from around the world have dug into an ancient site near the Bering Sea village of Quinhagak. This year, they thought they'd wrap it up. Maybe they'd excavate another 12 inches down to reach the bottom of the main dwelling. Then they'd cover and sandbag the site to protect it from eroding away as permafrost thaws. Were they ever glad to be so wrong. "It wasn't just a mop-up," said Rick Knecht, lead archaeologist at the Quinhagak dig, called Nunalleq, or "old village." "The site was about twice as deep as we thought. It had a whole another house underneath." The lower dwelling is even older than the first and holds thousands of objects dating back hundreds of years, including rare, intact masks and figurines, tools and spears, bowls and knives. Many are wooden, preserved by ice that is now melting. So the dig will go on, even as the effort turns to an ambitious, unusual and, for some, nerve-wracking plan to place the collection of archaeological finds right in the village of Quinhagak. The materials are considered the oldest and best-preserved Yup'ik artifacts ever recovered. This wooden...Read more
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