Arctic Field Projects

Project Title: RAPID: Emergency Excavation of Eroding Structure, Walakpa, Alaska (Award# 1355975)

PI: Jensen, Anne M (
Phone: (907) 230.8228 
Institute/Department: Bryn Mawr College, 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:
This is a RAPID project to fund emergency stabilization and limited preliminary analysis of artifacts and materials recovered during salvage archaeological excavations on the Walakpa (Ualiqpaa) archaeological site, an important site located on the North Slope of Alaska about 12 miles south of Barrow. The materials to be analyzed were recovered in a partial excavation of a structure that has been recently exposed in the current erosion face at Walakpa. The house, which has intact stratigraphy, is near Stanford's Area A, which contained not only Thule and Birnirk materials, but also the most significant ASTt component. The structure was endangered by slumping of the bluff due to thawing of permafrost, as well as disturbance by curious recreational visitors. The construction details and architecture were documented, as was the distribution of artifacts. Samples were taken for C14 dating, macrobotanical and wood analysis, as appropriate. Given the urgency of the situation, the salvage efforts focused on excavating the undercut and thawing portions of the structure and underlying cultural strata to avoid further disruptive collapse first, and then continued with excavation of as much of the remaining structure and associated midden as weather allowed. The site was stabilized and protected when excavations are forced to terminate for the season, with the intention that additional funds can be obtained for complete excavation and analysis in the future.

Logistics Summary:
In July 2013, a sod house was reported to be eroding out of the Chukchi Sea shoreline bluffs at Walakpa It was partially exposed and is unstable. More erosion and damage will occur as it thaws and a severe storm could destroy the entire structure. The site and the data it contains are at risk of disturbance and even outright destruction from a variety of forces. During the fall of 2013 a field team of 4 will conduct an archaeological salvage excavation for approximately 3 weeks to document a sod house and associated artifacts at Walakpa, Alaska. This RAPID grant will enable the PI will continue to work in Barrow in the fall of 2013, through 2014 and into 2015 to conduct emergency stabilization and limited preliminary analysis of artifacts and materials recovered. 2015 work is continued under NSF grant 1460384.

The logistics costs of the excavation are supported by funds from the North Slope Borough Mayor's Office, and archaeological equipment will be provided by UIC Science, LLC. CPS will provide lab and freezer space in the Barrow Arctic Research Center (BARC) building only. All other logistics will be organized by the researcher and paid through the grant.
SeasonField SiteDate InDate Out#People
2013Alaska - Utqiaġvik (Barrow)09 / 16 / 2013 12 / 31 / 20131
2013Alaska - Walakpa09 / 16 / 2013 10 / 01 / 20134
2014Alaska - Utqiaġvik (Barrow)01 / 01 / 2014 12 / 31 / 20141

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Parameters used to generate this report:, Grant# = "1355975", IPY = "ALL" 
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