After 3 days of digging Community Archaeology 2011 is well underway. This year we are excavating at the Amak Site near the Salonie Creek Rifle Range.
The site is almost a mile from the current shoreline, but 3,000 years ago Womens Bay extended a lot further inland and the site was situated right above the beach. During the last 14 years of Community Archaeology the Alutiiq Museum has been examining the Alutiiq Seasonal round in the Womens Bay area through time. Among other types, we have excavated late Fall fish camps up on Buskin Lake, Spring Cod camps on the outer coast, Winter villages, and Summer camps at the head of Womens Bay. We have excavated sites as old as from the 6th millennium BC and as recent as the 19th century AD. This year we hoped to learn what the Alutiiq were doing at the extreme head of Womens Bay 3-7000 years ago. We also hope to find one of the oldest sites on the archipelago (knock on wood here).
And so far so good. We know from a test pit and our excavation so far that the site has been occupied at least 3 times – once in the Early Kachemak period between about 3,000-4,000 years ago, in Ocean Bay II times around 5,000 years ago, and finally there appears to have been a super early occupation around 7,000 or so years ago. For the last 3 days we have been excavating the Early Kachemak component. What’s cool is that unlike the contemporary and nearby site at Bruhn Point, Alutiiqs do not appear to have used the Amak Site as a fish camp at that time. We have found none of ulus for cutting up fish or the netsinkers used to catch fish – both of which we found so many of at Bruhn Point.
3,000 years ago the Amak site appears to have been used sparingly as a temporary camp, and the occupants did not leave much behind for us to find. But we have found a surprising number of complete hunting tools – a sideblade, a chipped stone endblade, a pumice abrader and whetstone, a couple of scrapers – and very little in the way of flakes and other chipped stone debris that would have been created if people were making tools at the site. My initial thought is that Alutiiq people at the site were bringing completed tools to the site from somewhere else and hunting seals. Perhaps they sharpened their tools as they waited for a seal to appear. The seals would have been up there in late summer chasing salmon up Salonie Creek.