Last Call for Papers: The Connected Arctic–An Alaska Anthropological Association symposium sponsored by the Arctic Conference

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 organizers by the deadline of February 3, using the Alaska Anthropological Association meeting website form: .  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 (, Herbert Maschner ( ) or Owen Mason ( ).

Random Acts of Science – Blog – Geotagged Photos or “Hey! Dig here!”

Random Acts of Science – Blog – Geotagged Photos or “Hey! Dig here!”.

This is a pretty important point, and something most people probably don’t think about.  It might not matter for well-know sites like Pompeii or something, but for a lot of places, it could be a problem.  Why take a chance?

Very neat website about Science and Barrow

Barrow is a pretty interesting place in terms of the sheer amount and variety of science that gets done here, as it has been since the 1st International Polar Year (IPY).  It can be hard keeping track of it even if you live here and are a scientist.  We don’t have a local newspaper reporter, and the radio station can no longer afford a full-time reporter, so there is no local source of science stories for the general public.

Many scientists want to let people know what they are doing, and what they are learning by it, but there are a number of barriers (another post for another day).  One way is blogging.  On bigger hard-science projects, websites and more are possible, since the cost of people to take care of them is really a tiny  portion of the project budget.

A recent project called OASIS really takes this to another level.  Dr. Paul Shepson, the PI, actually built in an author to write about the project, and things grew from there.  Peter Lourie, the author, has written two children’s’ books and has moved on to multimedia.  They’ve made a really neat website, which has video from a number of scientists who work in Barrow.  There’s a lot from various folks on the OASIS project, but also from people who live in Barrow, like Fran Tate of Pepe’s, whaling captain Eugene Brower and even me.  I actually got interviewed twice, because the sound on the first set got messed up, so I had to do it all over again when Peter came up again!

Definitely worth checking out.

Moving the datum

Since 2004, we have had a primary site datum NUVUK 1, with two others that were used as control points.  As the bluff continued to erode, it became clear that we would need to abandon the primary datum, so last year local surveyor Chris Stein set three more datums.  This year, the primary datum was no longer a good place to set up, so I switched to setting the total station up at NUVUK 2 (our former primary reference point, and using NUVUK 1 as the reference.

The program we use, called EDM, is a really nice special purpose piece of software, written just for recording archaeological excavations with a total station.  It is really configurable and can make major use of menus, which means no typos and a cleaner field catalog down the road.  It allows you to set up (once you get the instrument over the datum point and level) by putting a reflector on the reference point (another datum for which you have coordinates, telling the program where the instrument is.  It then does the geometry and lets you confirm where the program thinks the instrument is and which way it is facing.  With that information and the angle and distance to any other point, the program does the geometry to figure out where the artifact you are recording is in the site grid.

For all this to work, the datums have to be precisely recorded.  On July 20th, we actually had to move NUVUK 1.  When Chris set it, he’d chosen a high point, with vegetation, as a good stable vantage point.  The only problem was that we weren’t sure that it didn’t have a grave under, and the erosion was getting closer.  We had to pull it and see, rather than risk loosing a person to the ocean.  All the other datums were quite far away (a good thing for control points) so we needed something more convenient to where we were excavating for ease in checking the setup, or restarting after battery issues.  I picked a spot below one of the guy wires for the beacon pole, since the wire made it less likely that anyone would disturb it with a vehicle.  We made extra sure of our setup, checked it with NUVUK 4, and tried to yank NUVUK 1.

It didn’t want to come out.  We tried tapping gently with a mallet.  We really didn’t want to be too aggressive, because we weren’t sure if it was in a burial.  In the end, we had to excavate shovel test pits all around to loosen it enough to remove.  Fortunately, there was no burial.

We put the stake into the chosen new location, and shot it in.  For the rest of the season, we checked setups with NUVUK 4 as well as NUVUK 1(A), and it seems to be stable.

While all this was going on, part of the crew was finishing excavation of another burial 10D75.  This burial appeared to be quite disturbed at first, but actually was fairly well-preserved except for the top.  The rest of the crew was STPing.  Rochelle found one burial in an STP, and Trace found another by exposing some aged wood (we call it “burial wood” because the wood in burials just has a certain look to it) while walking.  We recorded and back-filled STPs around the two locations so that we could shift windbreaks there the next day.

Tiana and Kyle recording and backfilling STPs