Nuvuk Archaeology Studies

What Are They Doing?

As part of an ongoing project to document ancestral burials near Barrow, Alaska, an interdisciplinary team of archaeologists, physical anthropologists, geomorphologists, and community members worked together to excavate the Nuvuk cemetery and village at Point Barrow. The cemetery dates back at least 1200 years, contains several hundred shallow burials, and is rapidly eroding into the Arctic Ocean. The remains are likely to add significantly to our understanding of the ancient inhabitants of the Arctic, the evolution of their cultures, and their relationships to contemporary populations. Local high school students served as field and laboratory staff members on the project.

Where Are They?

Mr. Kelley and Dr. Jensen stayed in the village of Barrow, Alaska and worked at sites outside of the village.

Expedition Map


This final reflection comes in two installments. The first was written back at the beginning of the school year, for unknown reasons I never got back to putting the finishing touches on it. The second part is being added on a snow day four months later. Time has moved quickly, this journal entry will provide a unique, longer term look at what has happened as a result of my PolarTREC work. I hope this provides a perspective for what science can look like, as well as the importance of these experiences for teachers, their students, and community members. As always, send questions or feedback. I...
This journal comes from our home in Chester, VT. Today is the first work day that I have not been wearing long johns!! Shorts and tevas are a welcome change, as are hugs and kisses from Julie and Marina. ☺ This final journal provides a few summary photos and thoughts. A final reflection will come later, after I have a chance to think through all of the wonderful experiences that I have been part of. The Arctic people and the animals have adapted to a challenging ecosystem, developing remarkable adaptations. Life and death coexist everywhere, in the Arctic they seem to be more apparent. I...
The day was relatively quiet with the exception of another polar bear being sighted. This bear stayed around longer and therefore provided lots of photo opportunities. BIG thanks to JR and Isaac for once again keeping up safe and getting some good polar bear pictures. Tonight’s journal was supposed to focus on a bunch of the scientists, specifically Barrow memories, Barrow favorites, and first things when you get home. Unfortunately, I washed my spiffy news reporter notebook, the only thing left was the metal, curly spine. Not much help with this journal, next topic, …, how about Last Day...
Archaeologists talk about the "48 Rule”. This rule states that significant objects or artifacts will be discovered during the last 2 days of the project. We were close today, significant pieces kept showing up in the burial that I have been working on for the last 3 days. Christine and Michael kept things moving along, unfortunately Dave had left so he missed all the action today. The time constraints kept me from wandering far for photo opportunities. The time also kept us out at Nuvuk until 7:30PM, by the time everyone was home and gear was put away, it was 9PM. Another late day. So,...
Today’s journal is the National Geographic version. Lots of pictures and captions. We were out listening to a speaker discuss underwater archaeology sites in the area as well as remote operated vehicles to search some of them. After that, Dave’s celebratory last dinner at the local sushi and Japanese restaurant. He will certainly be missed, he has made numerous contributions during his 10+ weeks here. The Barge Is Here!! Goods come in but once a year. Want a new car? Order it and have it shipped up on the barge. Washer? Same thing. Up here, new stuff comes in either on a plane or on a boat...

Expedition Resources

Project Information

9 July 2008 to 16 August 2008
Location: Barrow, Alaska
Project Funded Title: Nuvuk Archaeology Project: Thule Eskimo Cemetery and Contact Village

Meet the Team

Frank Kelley's picture
Chester-Andover Elementary School
Chester, VT
United States

Frank Kelley is a true New Englander. He has lived in all six states, and makes his home now in a solar-powered house in Vermont. His early days were spent outside of Boston, watching the Red Sox and the Patriots. He was the child that could be found out in the woods, turning over rocks, and looking for critters. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science and a Masters degree in Secondary Education. His love of nature and kids has given him the opportunity to bring his students to Peaks Island in Casco Bay, Maine, up to the top of Mt. Washington in New Hampshire, and to the shores of Lake Champlain in Vermont. In each setting, he tries to design experiences that allow the students to function as scientists. Mr. Kelley has been teaching for 22 years and currently teaches 5th and 6th grade at Chester-Andover Elementary School in Chester, Vermont.

Anne Jensen's picture
UIC Science, LLC
Barrow, AK
United States

Anne Jensen is an archaeologist with the Science Division of the Ukpeaġvik Iñupiat Corporation in Barrow, Alaska. She has worked on archaeological projects in northern Alaska since the early 1980s, and she and her family have lived in Barrow since the mid-1990s.