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Bering Land Bridge National Preserve
are hundreds of archaeological sites located in Bering Land Bridge
National Preserve. These sites are important in the documentation
of the migration early peoples that came across Beringia or the
Bering Land Bridge. Many sites are along the coast of the Preserve
from Cape Espenberg to the Ikpik Lagoon area (see laminated brochure
map). There are a few archaeological sites in the interior of the
The age of archaeological
sites on the coast range from being a few hundred years old to about
4,000 years old. There are 500 documented semi-subterranean (partially
underground) pit houses on the coast of the Preserve. One site,
located south of Cape Espenberg is Ublasaun. Ublasaun is a traditional
sea mammal hunting area. It was also a summer reindeer herding camp
used up until the 1950's. People use the area today to hunt, fish
and gather subsistence resources.
The two most prevalent
inland sites are: Trail-Creek Caves and Twin Calderas associated
with the Lost Jim Lava Flow. Trail Creek Caves, which is dated to
9,500 years old for human occupation, is one of the oldest archaeological
sites in Alaska. Other sites located at Twin Calderas contain stone
cairns (rock mounds) up to 300 years old used for mostly hunting
purposes. There are other lesser-known sites on the coast and inland.
Archaeology is the study
of past human life and activities or the study of past human cultures.
Archaeological sites both in the Preserve and in general, are important
because they show us what people were like in the past, and how
they lived their lives. From archaeological sites, artifacts people
left behind, and information from the ancestors of the people who
left things behind, archaeologists can make inferences about what
the culture was like.
Archaeology is important
1) It shows what people
of the past were like, and how they lived their lives. It traces
the course of human development in areas such as technology (methods
of satisfying human needs for food, shelter, and fire), material
culture (the products of technology: tools, shelters, boats, weapons,
etc.), and population movements (migration patterns, such as crossing
the Bering Land Bridge from Asia to Alaska 10,000-25,000 years ago.)
2) It is important to
who we are and where we came from - it gives us a sense of place
3) For some like the
Native Alaskans, it is a look back at their own ancestors and heritage.
For others, it is a chance to learn about the different peoples
and cultures that have inhabited the world, and to respect their
4) It studies past environments,
how they have changed and how people interacted with the environments.
It answers questions like: what people ate (bones, seeds), how they
procured their food (hunting techniques), what their environment
was like (pollen studies.) This information may hold valuable clues
on how we can live in our present environment.
5) Archaeology is fun
and exciting! Archaeologists are kind of like detectives. Walking
among ghosts of former times - seeing where they lived, holding
their tools, boots, cups, really brings you into the past; it's
like a time machine.
Because archaeological sites are important for so many different
reasons, archaeological sites on federal public lands are protected
by law. The Archaeological Resources Protection Act (ARPA) makes
it illegal to excavate, damage, remove, sell, or transport any archaeological
resource located on federal public lands.
It is everyone's responsibility to protect
archaeological sites; they are part of our national heritage. Once
an archaeological resource is destroyed it is gone forever!