Archeologists have found a village near the Kobuk River that may pre-date any Western contact in Alaska, likely dating back to the late 1700s or early 1800s, Alaska Public Media reported on Thursday.
Dr. Doug Anderson, professor of anthropology at Brown University, told the radio station, "In some other areas here we’ve found maybe two houses that are connected by tunnels, but nothing like this. And in other areas those houses are really quite small compared to the houses here; these are gigantic houses."
Anderson explained that the one-room homes look a lot like cabins and are dug about four feet into the earth, complete with a fireplace in the middle. The village housed around 200 people, and carbon dating indicates that the village is around 200 years old, which is just before Western explorers made it to Alaska.
Edward Cleofe, an undergraduate student working with Anderson on the project, explained that evidence indicated the villagers kept domestic dogs. "Does anyone know what coprolites are? That’s a fancy archaeology word for poop. We found a bunch of dog poop right over there full of fish bones and fish scales and fish things," he said.
The team also found two sets of human remains, one adult male with a broken leg and one child.
The Kiana Traditional Council is working with the university on the project and plans recruit local residents to volunteer DNA for analysis to compare with the human remains. The university plans to return the remains to the tribe for burial once the DNA analysis is complete.
Inupiat Elder Thomas Jackson said legend had it that the village existed, a place called Igliqtiqsiugvigruak, but there was no actual archeological evidence until now.
Listen to the audio story, broadcast on Alaskan public media.
(h/t Associated Press)
[Alaska's Turnagain Arm via Shutterstock]