February 28, 2012– Bureau of Land Management archaeologist Bill Hedman cries out in amazement as he uncovers a prehistoric tool from a small hole he has dug in a treeless expanse of tundra. As the lone BLM archaeologist for 12 million acres of public land in northwestern Alaska, Hedman covers a gigantic area, nearly all of it roadless. He’s thrilled when his instincts for where to look are rewarded by a find like this. Wow, a Biface! is a real-time video of Hedman’s experience.
“We have literally thousands of archaeological sites in every recognized period of history and prehistory in Alaska on the lands that we manage,” Hedman says. Through the BLM’s Northwest Drainages Archaeological Survey, Hedman has uncovered even more sites during the past several years. “It tells us Alaska has never been a backwater — it has consistently been occupied. We’ve got a rich archaeological record in the state of Alaska,” says Hedman.
Jeff Rasic, archaeologist at the University of Alaska Museum of the North, works with Hedman and the BLM and wants to get the word out about their work. The video Time Travel in the Alaskan Arctic chronicles his and Hedman’s partnership with PolarTREC, a National Science Foundation funded program linking teachers with field research. This partnership promotes the profession of archaeology and highlights unusual environments. Elementary school teacher Karl Horeis joined Rasic on a site excavation in 2010. “I’m looking forward to bringing some of this excitement back to my students in Denver with some mock digs in the garden plots at my school,” Horeis says from the bottom of a pit where he has spent hours painstakingly excavating a few buckets of soil.
Since its April 2011 web launch, Frontier Scientists (www.fsci15.wpengine.com) has shared first-person accounts and real-time insights from leading archaeologists, grizzly bear biologists, volcano researchers, climate change specialists and other scientists.
Current scientific discoveries in some of the Arctic’s most remote and dramatic landscapes are chronicled in short vodcasts, Twitter feeds, blogs and web reports. The research covers these categories:
- Cook Inlet Volcanoes
- Alutiiq Weavers
- Climate Change Watch
- Arctic Winter Cruise 2011
- Raven Bluff
- Computational Science
“We want to let travelers, teachers, students, aspiring scientists, and anyone else interested in science feel as if they are with scientists as they track grizzlies or take the temperature of permafrost in a borehole,” explains Liz O’Connell, video director for Frontier Scientists. Visitors to Frontier Scientists can pose questions directly to our scientists or follow their work on Twitter, Facebook, or their blogs.
Frontier Scientists is funded by the National Science Foundation, with additional support from the National Park Service and 360 Degrees North. Follow us!
Liz O’Connell 2012
View Alaska videos at www.FrontierScientists.com.