According to Science Daily a 3,000 year old whalebone mask has been found in Unalaska Island:
Archaeologists began working on the hillside because a new bridge is to be built there, replacing an old wooden-decked one. The dig, originally scheduled to last only a month, has been extended because the site has proved to be much richer than anyone expected.
The village was inhabited at a time when the climate in the Aleutians was much colder and the islands were surrounded by ice year-round. The inhabitants lived in stone houses with under-floor air spaces for heating.
The mask resembles a 1,000-year-old one found on the Alaskan peninsula. Denise Rankin, vice president of the tribal corporation on Unalaska, said the eyes and other features are also familiar to her.
“They look just like an Aleut face,” she said.
The Anchorage Daily News has several stories on the find. But first, here is a picture:
From Whalebone mask may rewrite Aleut history:
The ancient village where the mask came from has yielded several important discoveries, including the remains of dozens of homes, Knecht said. They had stone walls and sub-floor heating ducts to spread heat through the homes, he said.
Archaeologists have also found well-preserved human remains from ceremonial burials and elaborate jewelry such as an ivory hair pin with decorative faces carved on both sides.
The state has spent about $1.65 million on the excavation so it could replace a wobbly, wood-surfaced bridge built in 1979. A $28 million, 700-foot concrete bridge is scheduled to rise alongside it within two years, said Michael Hall, design project manager.
The state has budgeted $950,000 for the dig Yarborough started last year, Hall said. His effort touched off a controversy because he agreed to excavate with backhoes and truck the dirt to a fenced area, where Hall said it would later be sifted.
Which goes to show the pressure archaeologist are under to not stand in the way of “progress”.
From Ancient whalebone mask found in Unalaska:
Residents of the ancient site – a village marked by unprecedented stone houses and ivory carvings – ate polar bears, ice seals that no longer visit the island and a whale that’s never been documented in North American waters, Knecht said.
The mask might have been worn and broken at a funeral, said Mike Yarborough, lead archaeologist at the dig.
“It’s speculation to say what happened 3,000 years ago, but it was broken when we found it,” Yarborough said. “It very well could have been (a funeral mask).”
The village was occupied between 2,400 and 3,400 years ago, but materials found near the mask indicate it is 3,000 years old, he said.
The village has yielded several important discoveries, including the remains of dozens of homes, Knecht said. The dwellings had stone walls and sub-floor heating ducts to spread heat through the homes, he said.
Filed under: Archaeology