Human Prehistory of Alaska
Dates: July 15th-26th
Experience Alaskan archaeology from the field to the museum! This module will immerse students in the world of professional archaeology through field and laboratory based activities, with the intention of introducing them to potential career paths in archaeology and museum studies. Investigations in 2013 will focus on the Simpson Site located along the Tanana River, Alaska (near the Rosie Creek subdivision). This prehistoric site has the potential to provide a great deal of information concerning the ways humans lived during prehistoric times.
This module will involve six daily trips to the field site. While at the site, students will use excavation tools such as trowels, total station, GPS technology, mapping techniques, and field computers to document our finds. The team will also work at the Archaeology Laboratory at the University of Alaska Museum of the North. There, students will employ a range of computer software and scientific methods to decipher clues from artifacts, animal bones, soils, and plant remains to understand the activities that occurred at the site and how people lived in the past. Students will also learn how museum professionals preserve and store artifacts and samples so that they are available for future research. Come and join the investigation and help make new discoveries!
Trips will be made from UAF to and from the site each day. There will be no overnight camping involved with this module.
Sam Coffman is the GIS coordinator at the University of Alaska Museum of the North. He earned his MA in Anthropology from UAF and his BA from the University of Nevada, Reno.
Sam's research interests include hunter-gatherer landscape-use/adaptation, the integrating of geographic information systems (GIS) analysis into archaeology, and lithic analysis. His main research interest is the late Pleistocene/early Holocene archaeology of sub-arctic Alaska and the Great Basin. Sam says, "Archaeology is a rewarding field, offering you a chance to explore and travel to new places while continuing in the quest to understand past human lifeways."
Scott Shirar is a research archaeologist at the University of Alaska Museum of the North. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology at Indiana University and his Master of Arts in Anthropology at UAF.
“My first experience with archaeology was when I enrolled in the archaeological field school during the summer session after my freshman year at Indiana University. During that field school we spent four weeks excavating a thousand-year-old abandoned village site now located in a farmer’s cornfield in south-central Indiana. After my first day in the field I was hooked on archaeology, where you never know what the next trowel stroke will uncover. I look forward to my first year participating in the ASRA program and to teaching students how archaeology is carried out in the field and in the laboratory to learn about past human culture.”
Chris Houlette is the Museum Curator for Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve and Yukon-Charley RIvers National Preserve. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Anthropology from the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
Much of my research has focused on contact and interaction between cultures, a topic which I find particularly interesting. I have an equal fascination with both historic and prehistoric archaeology and enjoy collections based on research as much as doing field work. I especially appreciate sharing these interests with others and look forward to my third year with ASRA."