Incredible Findings Of Ancient Native Items Preserved In Ice Sheets -- Topic Of October 30th Presentation

Archaeologist To Speak On Rare Finds Of Artifacts In Six Wrangell-St. Elias "Ice Patches." Including A 650-Year Old Native Athabascan Basket.

Piece of ancient birchbark basket from ice field, with sewing holes visible.
James Dixon, an archaeologist who worked for ten years in Wrangell-St. Elias Park, has found some incredible tools and artifacts in six melting ice patches in Wrangell-St. Elias. These include caribou antler tools, a possible cache pit, evidence of bow and arrow and dart hunting, "projectile points", a copper projectile -- and, incredibly, a fragment of an ancient birchbark basket. The basket was found along the edge of a mountain ice field. Dixon and local resident, Ruth Ann Warden (granddaughter of Harry & Ruth Johns both of whom were prominent Copper Valley Ahtna historians and cultural experts) were both at the remote, icy site when the basket was discovered.

Copper arrowhead.
Also found were arrow shafts, up to 850 years old -- or back to 1150 AD, which was the start of the Middle Ages in Europe. The shafts were long and straight and made of white spruce. 
The basket is estimated to be at least 650 years old, which dates back to before Columbus.

The presentation will be held at the Ahtna Cultural Center, on the campus of Wrangell-St. Elias Park in Copper Center, Mile 106.8 Richardson Highway on October 30th.

There will be a preview of the exhibit from 2 to 4, with an opening of the "Ice Patch" exhibit and an Artifact Coming-Home Ceremony. James Dixon will be on hand to explain his findings. The exhibit features interpretive panels, podcasts, and a display of artifacts. A copper point and carved antler shaft will remain on long-term display at the Ahtna Cultural Center.
Call 822-3535 for more information.

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