3 bodies of 1,000-yr-old mysterious tribal group found in Alaska

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Washington, August 23 (ANI): Construction workers unearthed the remains of three humans in Kivalina, Alaska, who are believed to have been members of a mysterious tribal group from about 1,000 years ago.

According to a report in The Arctic Sounder, the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium was doing excavation for Kivalina's new wastewater treatment plant when they came across some old bones, which an onsite archeologist determined to be animal bones.

Construction resumed until more bones were found - this time human.

Three bodies were found close to each other, two together and one in what could have been a wooden house.

Archeologists won't be certain how old the Kivalina remains are until radiocarbon dating is done, but they believe the bodies were members of the Ipiutak - a group that lived in Alaska from about 500 to 900 A.D.

Artifacts found with the bodies show the elaborate, stylized engravings on ivory and artistic motifs that were characteristic of the group.

The discovery shows that Kivalina was occupied by humans about a thousand years longer than historians previously knew.

It also sheds light on a mysterious group whose range and numbers are only just coming to light.

Ipiutak are culturally distinct from the western Thule, who were whale hunters that are more clearly ancestors of the modern Inupiaq.

Ipiutak hunted seals and smaller mammals on the coast but don't seem to have hunted whale.

Caribou bones and the use of wood suggest that they also used areas in the Interior.

How the Ipiutak would have sustained a village of hundreds on the resources of the area, without evidence of whaling, is a puzzle to historians and archeologists, as is where the Ipiutak went.

"It seems to be a prehistoric population that was functioning quite well on both the Siberian and the Alaskan side up until 900 AD," said Peter Bowers, principal archeologist with Northern Land Use Research, which is studying the site.

"Finding out what happened after that is one of the mysteries we're trying to solve and the reason this (discovery) is important," he added.

As for the bones unearthed in Kivalina,city administrator Janet Mitchell said that the remains are being kept by the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium until the excavation was finished in case more bodies are found. (ANI)

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