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Archaeology Field School and Excavation Studies 3000-year-old Site

Working with the Makah Tribal Historic Preservation Office and the Makah Cultural and Research Center (MCRC) at Neah Bay, Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary staff completed a successful archaeology field school and excavation of an ancient shoreline site.

Gary Wessen (left) oversees excavation by Peninsula College students Peter Steelquist (center) and Shane Bowechop (right).
Gary Wessen (l) oversees excavation by Peninsula College students Peter Steelquist and Shane Bowechop (r). (Photo: Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary)

The site is thought to be a 3,000 year-old village located on a forested terrace above the Waatch River, approximately two miles from the modern coastline. The site may have been occupied at a time when sea level was 10-15 meters higher than present.

Excavated shell and fishbone indicate a nearby estuary or sheltered passage-a habitat complex dramatically different from that of today. Full analysis of the samples including radiocarbon dates and a report will be available in April, 2006.

Pacific Lutheran Universisty students Nichole Holmes (l.) and Sefanie Midlock (r.) at one of the screening stations.
Pacific Lutheran Universisty students Nichole Holmes (l) and Sefanie Midlock (r) at one of the screening stations. (Photo: Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary)

The project involved nine archaeology students from Pacific Lutheran University under Dr. Dave Huelsbeck and eight anthropology students from Peninsula College working under Dr. Jeff Mauger. Dr. Gary Wessen, consulting archaeologist for the Makah Tribe and Rebekah Monette, MCRC Collections Manager, supervised the project. The project was funded by the National Marine Sanctuary's Maritime Heritage Mini-grant program.

Additional Resources and Links

Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary
Makah Cultural and Research Center
The Makah Tribe
Pacific Lutheran University Dept. of Anthropology
Peninsula College

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