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Nome Area Rich in Archaeology

The unknown has ever been a spur to drive men onward to greater endeavor.  Today, according to many scientists, Alaska holds the key to a great unsolved question.  The people who inhabited America when Columbus discovered a world--whence came they?  Who are they?  What is the great root of their family tree?

Are they of American origin, perhaps inhabiting the polar regions prior to the glacial age when a climate comparable to that of Northern Italy prevailed there?  Did they originate in Europe as might be indicated by the discoveries in France of implements and other objects resembling those of the Eskimo?  Or does the Eskimo's physiognomy prove that he is of Asiatic derivation?

The answer to this question lies in the great field of archaeological research, particularly in the Bering Sea and neighboring areas.  According to Dr. Hrdlicka: "The area between 160 degrees west and 160 degrees east longitude and 60 degrees to 75 degrees north latitude contains the primal Eskimo-genic center and the source of the oldest Eskimo or proto Eskimo extensions."  In the Seward Peninsula, therefore, lies buried part of the answer to this question.

To the east and south, to the west and north of Nome are the "dead cities" of the Stone-Age Eskimo.  From the buried dwellings and in accumulated refuse many archaeological specimens of stone, ivory, wood and bone have been found.  The deeper portions of the remains give examples of "fossil ivory culture."  This is of higher grade and more delicacy; with more distinctiveness than the present.  Eskimo ivory art.  Among the artifacts found are the terminal parts of harpoons, beautifully designed and with a black, high natural polish; spear heads, needle cases; ivory combs and knives.  There are also dug up the bows and arrows and the slings used in hunting smaller game and birds.  Here are the Stone-Age hunter's ice creepers, kyak hooks and snow glasses; also whale charms and charms made in the shape of a cup--said to be used for giving water to the dying seal to appease his spirit.

Of invaluable help in this great search are the findings of the remains of the great mammoth in several parts of the Seward Peninsula.  Teeth, skeletons, and even whole carcasses have been unearthed.  At what ancient time did these huge beasts roam over this territory?  Did the Eskimo inhabit this land during that age?  What significance have the great stone anchors dug up on the same level with the bones of the mammoth?  Questions come flooding into the mind and these questions seek an answer.  Truly, here lies buried, only partly exposed, some great new evidence of the origin of the early peoples of our America.

Source: Alaska Life: The Territorial Magazine.  Juneau, Alaska: Alaska Life Publishing Co., May, 1945.




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