The Race to Save Alaskan Arctic Archaeology
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A recently discovered 500-year-old Alaskan settlement is rapidly disappearing into the Bering Sea.
The exquisitely preserved frozen site provides a spectacular insight into the Yup’ik Eskimo culture.
Researchers from the University of Aberdeen are using isotope analyses on recovered Eskimo hair to investigate how humans adapted to rapid climate change in the Arctic village.
The research was discussed at the British Science Festival.
The Yup’ik culture was one of the last contacted Eskimo societies, but prevailed over an area three times the size of Scotland.
But the means by which the bounty of discoveries has been released from the soil is also the reason why the site is being eradicated.
“It’s preserved by permafrost, and the permafrost is melting due to climate change. As it melts, it exposes the very soft soil to marine erosion: the shoreline retreats and the sites get damaged,” explained Dr Knecht, who has been working in Alaska for more than 30 years.
“This year, we were shocked by the amount of destruction. There were artifacts as big as tables thrown up on the bank by a single storm on a high tide.
Already thousands of artifacts have been unearthed