Arctic archaeological sites are now falling into the sea


Climate change likely means problems for our future, but it’s also capable of doing damage to the past. A 500-year-old Alaskan site was first revealed as the ice melted, but now erosion is pulling the site into the sea.

The site, known as Nunalleq, belongs to that of the Yup’ik Eskimos culture, which once dominated an area of land roughly the size of Minnesota. They have remained largely absent from the archaeological record until artifacts began appearing out of the ground near the village of Quinhagak. It’s kind of an archaeological catch-22: if the warmer climate hadn’t melted the ice, we likely never would have discovered the site in the first place. But that same process is destroying the soil just as quickly as archaeologists can uncover its secrets.

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