For the past several months, we have been preparing for a pilot research season in Old Harbor. The purpose of the pilot research is to locate and test archaeological sites thought to date to the Russian period. Our testing will consist of surface survey, soil probe, auger and small test pits. These methods will give us a sense of the types of artifacts at each site as well as how much a site has been disturbed. Knowing this information is important in choosing sites to excavate more fully in future field seasons.
To prepare for the pilot research, we consulted some older maps of the Old Harbor region and spoke to members of the community to pinpoint some locations where Sugpiaq people may have lived between 1784 and 1867. Ultimately, we chose 8 sites to explore across Three Saints Bay, Barling Bay and Kiliuda Bay, in addition to one site within the modern boundary of Old Harbor.
In order to get permission to work at these sites, we had to apply for permits from the State of Alaska and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, who own the land on which some of the sites are located. This was a long process because we had to assemble appropriate documentation about our project plans, agreements with museums to take in any collections we generate, our qualifications as archaeologists and detailed maps of the areas we want to visit. In addition to these state and federal permits, we also consulted with Old Harbor Native Corporation, the City of Old Harbor and the Alutiiq Tribe of Old Harbor and received their input and approval for our work.
Now in the final weeks before our departure to Kodiak on August 9, we are making sure we have the supplies we need and reviewing applications for an Old Harbor intern, who will participate in the pilot research.
Keep an eye out for posts about other members of the pilot research team and updates from the field!