Time Sleuths - Archaeology in Interior Alaska
Dates: July 18-29, 2016
Humans have lived and interacted with both living and extinct animals in Alaska for the past 14,000 years! We are surrounded by many traces of human presence on the landscape, with fascinating archaeological sites that few people think about, let alone know about. This July, ASRA students will accompany a team of archaeologists on excavations of an archaeological site at Quartz Lake. There you will use excavation tools such as trowels, total station, GPS technology, and field computers to document your finds!
This module will immerse students in the world of professional archaeology through field and lab based activities, with the intention of introducing them to potential career paths in archaeology and museum studies. Investigations will focus on a 6,000-year old site around Quartz Lake. Sites surrounding Quartz Lake date back to 13,000 years ago, but we know little about how the environment has changed and how humans adapted to this change over the last 6,000 years! This site will give us a window to that time period.
This module will involve a 7-day field expedition to Quartz Lake (~86 miles southeast of Fairbanks). Students will travel by van and camp near the archaeological site during the duration of the excavations. Excavations will be carried out at the site with visits and field trips to the surrounding area. After fieldwork the team will work at the Archaeology Laboratory at the University of Alaska Museum of the North. There, we will employ a range of scientific methods to decipher clues from artifacts, animal bones, soils, and plant remains collected during excavation to understand the various activities occurring at the site, environment, and how humans lived there 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!
This is a semi-remote module and perfect for those who love the outdoors! Base Camp will consist of tents (bring your own tent and sleeping bag). A cabin will serve as our mess hall, hangout, and logistical base. All food will be provided in this module during the 7 day field expedition. As a part of the field experience, students will be expected to participate in some of camp duties, such as helping with cooking and dishes. There will be electricity.
Josh Reuther is the Curator in the Archaeology Department at the University of Alaska Museum of the North. He has earned degrees in Anthropology from the University of Alaska Fairbanks (B.A., M.A.) and the University of Arizona (Ph.D.).
Josh is trained as an archaeologist with a strong emphasis on archaeological sciences and geosciences. His recent research focuses on reconstructing past environments, and understanding how humans adapt to subarctic and arctic ecological systems. He is very excited to be involved in the ASRA archaeology team.
Sam Coffman is the Research Archaeologist/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.
"My research interests include the prehistory of Alaska, hunter-gatherer landscape-use/adaptation, the integrating of computers and mapping software into archaeology, and lithic analysis. 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. This will be my fifth year being involved in ASRA, and honestly can’t wait! The 2016 ASRA project will be a great opportunity for all those involved. We’re expecting to find a very interesting artifact assemblage, so come and be a part of the discovery!"
Scott Shirar is the archaeology collection manager 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, which is now 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 fourth 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.”
Fawn Carter is the registrar and assistant archaeology collection manager at the University of Alaska Museum of the North. She earned both her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees in Anthropology at UAF. “Archaeology combines some of my favorite activities such as being outdoors, studying prehistory, lab analysis, and playing in the dirt. The idea of finding artifacts that are thousands of years old and using them to reconstruct past cultures and lifestyles is remarkable and has always appealed to me. This will be my second year with ASRA and I can’t wait to inspire and teach the next generation of archaeologists.”