We are off to Etah! We began this blog to document our work as we developed an exhibit marking the centennial of the Crocker Land Expedition. The exhibit has been up for a while now, and continues to attract visitors. But exciting new things are in the works. In March I learned that my colleagues and I have funding from the National Science Foundation to return to Etah to continue archaeological research we began there in 2006.
Then, we were studying the historic period, looking at how Inughuit reacted to the arrival of numerous Western explorers, laden with industrial goods, in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In the course of that research we encountered remains from the Crocker Land Expedition, some of which are included in the exhibit – I’ll post more about those in the future. But we also encountered earlier occupations: by earlier Inuit, dating to about 1200 AD, and by the people who lived in the Arctic before the Inuit, called Dorset Paleo-Inuit by archaeologists. This was very exciting, but we also discovered something more ominous – that the site was eroding, a situation made worse by the diminished sea ice and longer open water season of the last few decades.
In 2012 John Darwent (UC Davis) and Hans Lange (Greenland National Museum and Archives) returned to the site for a brief field season to determine the extent of the earlier, Dorset occupations, and to monitor erosion. They confirmed that Dorset Paleo-Inuit had lived at the site on at least three occasions. Troublingly, they also found that erosion had worsened, threatening this valuable archaeological site.
Now we will return once more to do more extensive excavations in the Dorset areas of the site, and to continue monitoring the erosion.
We’ll use this blog to post updates. Look for some background on our previous research, and on our preparations for this summer soon! for now, there is an article on the College website, with more images from our 2006 fieldwork.