TRIBAL ART ARCHAEOLOGY - Christmas 2015


1. QUINHAGAK, ALASKA Yupik Bear Mask (University of Aberdeen) —This season’s excavation at Nunalleq, or the well-preserved Yup’ik “old village” on the coast of the Bering Sea, has uncovered a mask depicting a half-human, half-walrus face. “It’s got amazingly lifelike contours with the cheek bones, and the nose, and the forehead and so on,” Rick Knecht of the University of Aberdeen told Alaska Public Media. The team also found a bentwood bowl among other household items, jewelry, and weapons in the 500-year-old sod house, which was burned and abandoned around 1640. “On the bottom of the bentwood bowl is an ownership mark left by the person who carved that and these ownership marks were inherited between families. We have about six or seven ownership marks we see consistently throughout this site, which we believe was a very large sod house divided up into compartments which were domestic spaces for women and children,” he added. The excavation is being conducted with the support of local Yup’ik people to retrieve the artifacts and record the site before it erodes into the sea. To read in-depth about the excavations at Nunalleq, go to "Cultural Revival." More Information http://www.archaeology.org/news/3629-150824-alaska-nunalleq-mask

2. MEXICO CITY, MEXICO—In the ruins of the great Aztec site of Templo Mayor, archaeologists have unearthed a massive tzompantli, or trophy skull rack, that was built between 1485 and 1502. These racks were used by the Aztecs to display the heads of their enemies, who may have been sacrificed atop nearby pyramids. Paintings and descriptions of the racks from the early colonial period suggest the Aztecs used wooden poles to suspend the skulls between vertical posts. The
recently discovered tzompantli differs from others that have been depicted and discovered in that rows of skulls seem to have been mortared to one another and formed a circle in which the skulls were arranged to look at the center. “There are 35 skulls that we can see, but there are many more,” National Institute of Anthropology and History archaeologist Raúl Barrera told The Guardian. “As we continue to dig the number is going to rise a lot.” To read in-depth about the excavations, go to “Under Mexico City.”