Community Archaeology

Community Archaeology participants excavate at the Amak site in Womens Bay during the 2012 dig by the Alutiiq Museum. (Nicole Klauss photo)

A band of amateur archaeologists are getting their hands dirty and shovels poised for discovery when the Alutiiq Museum’s community archaeology program begins today in the Womens Bay area.

Led by Patrick Saltonstall, the museum’s curator of archaeology, the program takes community members and turns them into archaeologists to help Saltonstall and museum staff excavate and research historic sites around Kodiak. The dig begins this morning at the Kashevaroff site on the west side of Salonie Creek, which Saltonstall and crew have worked at before.

Now in its 18th year, the program has been a success for the museum and the community, Saltonstall said Thursday night during an orientation session for this year’s volunteers. “The community has responded well, and there is always lots of response,” he said.

The site has been excavated before, and this year the museum is moving to a new area to research further. Last year, the crew found a late, prehistoric fish camp house dotted with ulus and discovered that some spots showed up to 7,000 years of human occupation.

“I’m pretty convinced we’re going to find sites going back 8,000 to 9,000 years,” Saltonstall said. “Right now, we’ve only found about 7,500. The only way to learn about stuff before written records is archaeology.”

Each morning, volunteers get an orientation update for the day directing them on where to dig, the proper techniques and what tools to use. At the end of the first day, after the ground is broken, digging will commence.

The program runs through August 8 from 8:15 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. For more information, contact the museum at 486-7004.

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