The deadline is fast approaching for contributions to the Recent Research Notes column in the Alaska Journal of Anthropology. These would be brief (1-3 paragraphs maximum) reports on up-coming, on-going or recently completed projects, new C-14 dates or laboratory findings that might be of interest to the Arctic/subarctic research community. Individuals can submit multiple notes if they have different subjects. Items already covered in the newsletter are appropriate, as AJA has a broader circulation, and exists in permanent hard copy in libraries. For more detail, see here.
Submissions can be made to Anne Jensen (firstname.lastname@example.org) who edits the column. Electronic submissions (in AJA style) are strongly preferred. The AJA Style Guide can be found here.
For thousands of years, permafrost has been a constant in most of the Arctic. Communities and lifeways have literally been built on the assumption that it would endure in perpetuity. Now, in response to recent warming trends, permafrost degradation and its numerous societal and environmental impacts are becoming widespread. Coastal bluffs eroding into the sea, roads like washboards or washed away, fill collapsing around pilings supporting public infrastructure, archaeological sites and cultural heritage thawing and rotting, and ice cellars thawing and flooding, are only some of the effects becoming commonplace across the Circumpolar North.
This session will bring together interdisciplinary research focused on changing permafrost and its impacts on people and landscapes as well as human resilience and adaptation in Arctic coastal permafrost areas. We seek to develop synergy between researchers interested in these topics and expand PerCS-Net (Permafrost Coastal Systems Network), an international network of researchers dealing with permafrost systems in transition. We welcome papers covering various aspects of these issues, from identifying new types of social and environmental disruption to monitoring to attempts at adaption. Contributions from community members and holders of Indigenous knowledge and local knowledge and researchers successfully engaging directly with Indigenous communities are particularly welcomed.
It is time to think about submitting contributions for the Recent Research Notes column in the Alaska Journal of Anthropology. Get the word out about a project (maybe find some collaborators), let colleagues know about some interesting little find that isn’t big enough for a full article, keep folks posted on what you are doing. More specifics here. This is not limited to archaeologists, folks!
I’m in Fairbanks on a combined trip to do some work on the WALRUS project and to give a couple of papers at the Alaska Anthropological Association’s 44th Annual Meeting. I was supposed to come down on Sunday and got to a zooarchaeological workshop on teeth, but alas there was a blizzard in Utqiaġvik, and that didn’t happen.
Last night, there was the opening reception. Jenny Blanchard had organized 2-minute talks, which went well. I did 2 minutes on Walakpa 2016, with a plug for Walakpa 2017. We didn’t get quite as many people as we’d hoped, since we were in a room at the end of the main entry hall, and people had to pass the bar with free beer to get there, so some folks got sidetracked.
The day started early with a paper on Arctic genetics by Jennifer Raff, Justin Tackney, Margarita Rzhetskaya, Geoff Hayes and Dennis O’Rourke, in a session on the Seward Peninsula. All of them except for Margarita had worked on the Nuvuk people as part of a big project, also involving modern that was at least in part done at the request of Utqiaġvik Elders (although they didn’t have to twist Dennis & Geoff’s arms too hard). That project contributed to this paper, and as results continue to come out, it is only getting more interesting. Now that the North Slope is somewhat understood, the Seward Peninsula is the next gap.
The rest of the session focussed largely on the first field season of a project at Cape Espenberg spearheaded by Claire Alix and Owen Mason. They are working on a couple of Birnirk houses, one of which was started by an earlier project there that I spent a couple of weeks on. Very interesting material coming out, and very interesting geomorphological and paleoenvironmental work in progress. Their dates for Birnirk seem to be running a bit later than what we are seeing at Walakpa, up into the range I would call Early Thule at Nuvuk. Of course, we aren’t really talking about two different groups of people here, bur rather a change through time, but it is still interesting. They aren’t nearly done with one of the houses, so it will be interesting to see if they get some earlier dates.
Spent the afternoon polishing my PowerPoints for tomorrow, and now I’m going to try to catch up on sleep.
From Glasgow, we went on to Vienna and CHAGS (the Conference on Hunting and Gathering Societies), by way of Düsseldorf. The Düsseldorf airport is not high on my list of airports in Europe.
In Vienna, we stayed in Hotel-Pension Bleckmann, a nice family-run hotel near the University, where all the conference sessions were being held. The hotel had great breakfasts, and the staff was really nice and very helpful. They recommended a restaurant that had great food and a local clientele, so it was more reasonable than the more touristy places.
The conference was very interesting. Both Glenn & I were giving papers in a session on Aboriginal Whaling in the 21st Century. I talked about the archaeological evidence for whaling in Alaska, and Glenn talked about the late pre-contact/protohistoric whaling-centric system in North Alaska. There were a number of other northern papers in the session, including papers on Central and Eastern Canadian whaling archaeology from Jim Savelle and Peter Whitridge, as well as papers on whaling in places like Korea & Bequia. There were 51 other sessions, all having to do with hunting and gathering groups. Of course there were a lot of northern papers, but some of the other papers were very interesting as well. The organizing committee and the students really made an effort to have a green conference, including the food and drinks served at breaks, and all in all it was quite fun.
We ran into a couple of hooded crows in one of the courtyards on campus. Oddly, we’d seen one at the University of Glasgow as well.
The campus has all sort of restaurants and beer gardens more or less on or next to it. It was very convenient after sessions. Several times we wound up at Steigel-Ambulanz. This was a restaurant/beer garden right across a walkway from the area where the sessions were concentrated. It featured seriously large portions, but the food was very good. We also had a dinner at Universitätsbräuhaus, which was more or less across the quad.
The conference banquet was held in a banquet hall in the Wiener Rathauskeller. That literally means the cellar of the city hall, and that’s exactly where it is, in the basement of Vienna City Hall. It is set up for banquets (and also as a restaurant). The food was great, and Richard Lee (of Man the Hunter fame) was honored for his contributions. He was just back from something like his 50th field season!
Vienna had more places that only took cash than do most cities these days. We wound up having to wake quite a way to find a bank that exchanged money, since we needed more Euros than we had exchanged in the first place. On the way, we stopped by the Spanish Riding School (home of the Lipizzaner stallions), and booked a stable tour for the next afternoon, when there weren’t any sessions we simply needed to hear. The building the Riding School is in had a stratified archaeological site under the plaza in front of it, and portions had been preserved with a wall around it.
The next day we went for the stable tour. It was pretty interesting, and the stables were very nice, although we weren’t allowed to take pictures in the actual stables. Much like the Royal Stables in Denmark, the horses were all in box stalls, but you could see they had been converted from tie stalls at some point in the past.
Believe it or not, when it was built, the Winter Riding School hall was considered very simple in design, the better to show off the horses!
We walked back to our hotel through the Hofburg grounds. Being in Vienna really brings home that until pretty recently, it was the seat of a major empire.
I couldn’t resist adding this. The German for ice cream is “eis” and this is an ice cream shop.
When we first started archaeological work at Nuvuk, it took a while to find a physical anthropologist who was willing to work with the human remains here in Barrow. Dennis O’ Rourke and his team were willing to do that. Dennis came up to Barrow to speak to the community and the Elders to get their permission. His lab works with genetic studies as well as skeletal material, and he asked if they would be interested in allowing ancient DNA studies on the remains from Nuvuk. The Elders were not only interested in those studies, they suggested that the group undertake a program of modern DNA studies across the North Slope as well. They developed a proposal to do just that, and once it was funded, research got underway, with resident of all seven North Slope communities contributing samples.
The analysis took a while. The team traveled to all the villages to collect the data and returned to present the results to North Slope residents before they were published. Finally, thefirst paper based on the project is published! It is based on looking at mitochondrial DNA, which is inherited only from your mother. It is present in many more copies than the more familiar (to most people) nuclear DNA, and therefore is often studied in archaeological situations, since all the extra copies make it more likely that some of it will survive.
The short version is that the modern DNA results support the North Slope as the source for the populations that migrated to the eastern Arctic, both the Neoeskimo (ancestors of today’s Inuit/Inupiat people) and the earlier Paleoeskimo. This fits well with the picture from the archaeological data.
Jennifer Raff is senior author, with Margarita Rzhetskaya, Justin Tackney and Geoff Hayes as co-authors.
This paper has gotten picked up by a number of science news sources.
Edit: 4/30/15 Fixed a link that WP had put an ellipsis in the middle of the link. It should work now.
Dennis O’Rourke and Geoff Hayes are scheduled to give a talk at the Iñupiat Heritage Center tonight as part of the BASC Saturday Schoolyard series. They are giving a report to the community on the results of the GeANS (Genetics of the Alaskan North Slope) project, involving both modern and ancient (mostly from Nuvuk) DNA. It should be really interesting.
Dennis is scheduled to arrive on the evening Alaska Airlines flight, and then head over to the IHC to start the talk at 8PM. I think Geoff may either be here or is coming in from a village. I just hope the AK Airlines flight isn’t as late as the one I was on yesterday; I didn’t get here until almost 9PM.
I am in Seattle for the Alaska Anthropological Association meetings. Today was spent primarily in tours of the Burke Museum’s zoological collections (in the morning) and the marine mammal collections at NMML (in the afternoon). The Burke has pretty impressive collections, especially when you add in the off-site material, and NMML has a good range as well. After the tours, Jeff Bradley of the Burke took me to their off-site storage to look at whale mandibles.
I’ve been trying to track down whale mandibles ever since I was sent a picture of one from Cape Krusenstern and I saw one at Cape Espenberg that didn’t look like bowheads. I didn’t think they were grey whales either, but I’m not as familiar with their skeletons. There are bowhead skulls in front of every school in Barrow (& my daughter attended all three), the college, the library/heritage center, the city hall and the North Slope Borough building, as well as miscellaneous other sites around town, so I know bowhead jaws when I see them.
I found a couple that looked like possible matches, or at least members of the same family, so that is progress. The Burke has pretty restrictive photo policies (they hold a lot of art, so the policies are based on that), which means I can’t put any photos up here without permission. It would take days & several person-hours of work at both ends, so I’m not going to try for a blog post.
Now off to bed so I can be bright-eyed & bushy-tailed (or at least halfway coherent) for our session tomorrow. I don’t have to give any papers until afternoon, but still… The other organizers have papers in the morning, so I’m guessing I’ll be moderating…. We’re only winging it a little 🙂
I wound up agreeing to help organize a session at the upcoming Alaska Anthropological Association meeting in Seattle. Long story about Seattle, but we have gone to Whitehorse, YT once or twice, so leaving Alaska is not a first.
Anyway, the deadline to submit sessions (including paper lists) is this Friday, so I though I’d put a description up here, since the AnthroAlaska list seems to be a bit slow showing up (although it might be my email). We have room for a few more papers and are being fairly expansive in our interpretation of the topic. If you are interested, the description and directions for how to participate follow:
Although the Arctic tends to be viewed as a place apart, both in the sociocultural sense and as a research area, the first has never been true, and the second is becoming less so. This symposium will look at the Connected Arctic from both perspectives.
Papers on any aspect of trade and/or travel (pre-or post-contact) from one or more disciplinary perspectives are welcome, as long as they involve the Arctic. We are interested in both specific case studies and methodological works.
We also welcome in papers dealing with aspects of connected Arctic research, including virtual repositories which can be used from multiple locations, shared databases, digital teaching and outreach tools, and social media.
N.B. People wishing to submit papers are asked submit the paper abstract directly to the meeting organizersby the deadline of February 3, using the Alaska Anthropological Association meeting website form: https://catalyst.uw.edu/webq/survey/fitzhugh/139716 . Note you will need to register for the meeting first. Please put “The Connected Arctic” in the space on the form. The symposium is not on the website list of symposia yet, but we have been assured that does not matter, since sessions are due the same day. Please also send your name and at least a paper title (preferably with the abstract) directly to one of the organizers: Anne Jensen (email@example.com), Herbert Maschner (firstname.lastname@example.org ) or Owen Mason (email@example.com ).