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Kodiak Archaeology & Alutiiq Prehistory

Native people have lived in the Kodiak Archipelago for at least 7,500 years, yet the written record of their history extends back just 250 years, to the time of Russian conquest. Archaeological sites offer the opportunity to study the remaining 7,250 years of Alutiiq history. They are an Alutiiq library.

Kodiak Archaeology Handout

SlateLanceKashSmA 4,500 year-old slate lance found at the Kashevaroff site.

FACT: The Kodiak Archipelago has one of the richest archaeological records in Alaska. The region holds at least 2,000 sites, about 4.5 percent of all the archaeological deposits recorded in Alaska.

FACT: Kodiak’s high density of archaeological sites reflects 7,500 years of human occupation and large
prehistoric populations.

FACT: Scientists have been studying Kodiak prehistory since 1930. Kodiak is one of the more intensely researched regions of Alaska from an archaeological perspective.

FACT: Many of Kodiak’s archaeological sites are remarkably well preserved, with bone, ivory, and antler tools, and sometimes  wood and fiber artifacts. These unique finds reflect the archipelago’s cool, wet climate, which helps to preserve organic materials.

FACT: Archaeologists recognize a variety of different sites from large coastal villages dotted with the remains
of sod houses, to stream side fish camps, fort sites on precipitous cliffs, stone quarries, fish weirs, trails, cairns, petroglyphs, and secluded mountain caves where whalers prepared for the hunt.

FACT: Archaeologists recognize five distinctive cultural traditions, each representing a different way of life. Despite changes in the organization of ancient societies, archaeologists believe that modern Alutiiq people are descended from Kodiak’s earliest residents.

State and federal laws proect Alaska's sites. It is illegal to dig in sites or collect artifacts without a permit.
Learn more through Stewards of Heritage - our short video series.