Walakpa as Case Study: Rescuing Heritage and Data from a Vanishing Site

Author(s): Anne Jensen

Year: 2017


Walakpa is an iconic Arctic site with spectacular preservation, due to frozen conditions. Although many believe it to have been fully excavated, Stanford was only able to reach a third of the way to sterile soil due to permafrost, so earlier occupations of the site remain unstudied. Long considered stable, Walakpa began eroding rapidly in 2013. A single recent storm removed over 30 meters of cultural stratigraphy along a 100+ meter front.

Need for rapid response prompted a large volunteer effort in 2016, with support from the landowner (an Alaska Native village corporation) and the municipality, as well as many individuals. I will briefly describe the data recovered.

Walakpa is only one of many such significant sites in the north, all under threat from climate change. Using Walakpa as an example, I will discuss the implications for our ability to contribute to the expansion of scientific knowledge of the past, and discuss how choices we make in the next few years will impact our science for the foreseeable future.

Cite this Record

Walakpa as Case Study: Rescuing Heritage and Data from a Vanishing Site. Anne Jensen. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431106)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -178.41; min lat: 62.104 ; max long: 178.77; max lat: 83.52 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16209