Arctic Field Projects

Project Title: Bering Strait Socio-economic Organization, ca.2000-200 BP: A View from Port Clarence (Award# 1341881)

PI: Anderson, Shelby L (
Phone: (503) 725.3318 
Institute/Department: Portland State University, Department of Anthropology 
IPY Project?
Funding Agency: US\Federal\NSF\GEO\OPP\ARC\ASSP
Program Manager: Dr. Anna Kerttula (
Discipline(s): | Social and Human Sciences\Archaeology |

Project Web Site(s):

Science Summary:
More than 50 years ago, Helge Larsen recognized the importance of the stratified Ipiutak and Neoeskimo deposits at the Point Spencer site, located on the Bering Sea coast of northern Alaska. In the late 1940s, Larsen and Charles Lucier investigated this extensive village site as part of a larger effort to explain western Alaskan prehistory. With intact stratified deposits dated across the Ipiutak-Neoeskimo transition and good organic preservation, Larsen and Lucier recognized the potential of Point Spencer to address key questions about socio-economic change over the last 2000 years. Despite this potential, no research has taken place at the site in the intervening years. The research here involves excavation at Point Spencer to address questions about socio-economic organization during this period of significant cultural change. Changing diet, subsistence practices, environmental change, and engagement with regional social and economic systems are factors archaeologists point to in explaining the development and spread of the Neoeskimo tradition across the North American Arctic. Yet these ideas remain largely untested with new archaeological data. This research will address these questions through data recovery and survey in the Port Clarence region of northern Alaska. Illegal digging at Point Spencer brings both urgency and risk to the project.

Logistics Summary:
The Port Clarence Archaeological Project involves testing and excavation of several prehistoric archaeological sites in the vicinity of Port Clarence on the western tip of the Seward Peninsula. This archaeological inventory and data salvage project is a time-sensitive response to the large-scale looting of archaeological sites in the region. During the summers of 2013 and 2015, a team of 10-15 researchers, comprised of Portland State University researchers and Bureau of Land Management personnel, will establish a remote archaeological field camp near the decommissioned U.S. Coast Guard facility at Port Clarence, Alaska. Each summer a research team will spend about 2 weeks excavating at the site, with a crew change-out after a week.

CPS will provide charter flights between Nome and Port Clarence for the camp put-in, take-out and resupply/crew change; camping and safety equipment; and freight for CPS-provided gear shipment between Fairbanks and Nome. All other logistics will be arranged and paid for by the PI.
SeasonField SiteDate InDate Out#People
2013Alaska - Port Clarence06 / 24 / 2013 07 / 07 / 201315
2015Alaska - Port Clarence07 / 20 / 2015 07 / 31 / 20159

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