Casual portrait of a disheveled young man with a beard and sunglasses, wearing a dingy fleece jacket, holding a mason’s trowel. Taken on a sunny day on beach in the subarctic, with green cliffs across a narrow bay in the background

Nunivak archaeology

Published 2014-02-08

Every great once in a while — like every 3 - 4 years — someone will contact me about my archaeological work.

This week, a PhD student in Scotland needed some information related to my thesis. I just spent like 3 hours trying to get as much info to him as I could, including a photocopy of a 1972 typewritten report. Previous to my thesis (1997), said report was literally the only written work on the zooarchaeology of Nunivak Island (bigger than Rhode Island, of course, because what in Alaska isn’t?) — and perhaps the only such work for the entire lower Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. It was also authored by James Chatters who my archaeology buddies will remember fondly as the guy largely responsible for the Kennewick man controversy.

The fact that I put about a half dozen of my old archaeology papers on the Internet is of suprising utility in the year 2014. Shouldn’t all scientific and humanities research ever be freely available on the web by now?

Anyway, a reminder that

  1. Grad school wasn’t remotely a waste of my time, even though I don’t do archaeology any more. That stuff I did mattered, at least a little.
  2. a lot of valuable data (that 1972 typewritten report, my 1996 lab notes) is still nowhere near the Internet, and probably in fact in a box in your garage next to the Halloween decorations and your old turntable.
  3. Academia was the original Open Source project
  4. If you have clear rights to any research you’ve written — even your unpublished student papers — put them on the Internet. They might be some other researcher’s goldmine.