This summer, I was lucky to begin a new field project at Quartz Lake. I couldn't have done any of this without the support of the University of Alaska Museum of the North, and Josh Reuther in particular. He heard that I was interested in late Holocene archaeology in central Alaska and invited me to work at the Klein Site. This site has a great deal of faunal material and evidence for grease-rendering, in addition to an overwhelming amount of heat-cracked quartz.
Kristin Cimmerer and Xinglin Wang (above), two awesome undergraduate students at the University of Michigan, assisted me in five weeks of excavation at the site, beginning in early July. For our first week, the Klein Site was pretty busy because we had the help of four archaeology researchers from the Museum of the North and four high school students from UAF's Alaska Summer Research Academy. You can hear more about the program and Quartz Lake, as well as Josh Reuther's research, in this radio story produced by Fairbanks' NPR affiliate, KUAC. It was great to start the project out with the knowledge of experienced archaeological researchers and the enthusiasm of new archaeologists.
For the next four weeks, Kristin, Xinglin and I excavated at two hearth features in the site and recovered hundreds of bone fragments, several stone tool pieces, and countless pieces of heat-altered quartz. This year, I'm analyzing the fat residues present in the cooking features that we recovered using compound-specific isotopic analysis. We also had the chance to survey the edge of Quartz Lake. Josh Reuther and Sam Coffman are painstakingly mapping all of the artifacts found on the edge of the lake, including the bifacial tool that I found (below).
This was a great first summer. I'm lucky to go back in May 2019 with funding from the National Science Foundation and the Wenner-Gren Foundation. I hope to bring more students to Alaska to gain a valuable comparative perspective by working in the Subarctic.
Bree is an Alaskan Archaeologist and Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Wyoming.