9.22.2009

The mysterious Ipiutak civilization

http://explorenorth.com/articles/billjones/ipiutak.html
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The Ipiutak poses a puzzling dilemma to archeology.
The lack of artifacts makes the time line of its existence speculative. The hundreds of lodge pits comprise the only evidence of the Ipiutak peoples' existence. The size of the city is another puzzler. It is the largest settlement ever found to have existed in Alaska prior to the arrival of Europeans. Moreover, no other settlement even near its size existed across the expanse of Canada until that country was settled by Europeans. It is a difficult site to explore for there are problems of digging through the frozen earth there. Their dating of the site is admittedly a guess. The Ipiutak could have been there thousands of years before. By the University of Alaska's count there were some 800 lodge pits at the Ipiutak site. These were their permanent lodges. So, let us envision a city of some 1600 lodges of both types. And, we will estimate that each lodge housed a family of five. Then the Ipiutak town must have had a population of 8,000 people! Hardly anything is known about the Ipiutak people except that they existed there at least 3,000 years ago.
Hardly anything is known about the Ipiutak people except that they existed there at least 3,000 years ago. Was this the only Ipiutak town? Well, the Ipiutak certainly were not roving bands. They had a culture that was sophisticated enough to cause them to coalesce into a very large community, larger than any arctic coastal village of either Alaska or Canada today. Such a culture does not develop in one place. There must have been other Ipiutak towns, many of them! But, where are they?
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