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Photos: Nunalleq archaeological site

A wood doll is held by Celeste Jordan moments after she unearthed it at the Nunalleq archaeological site outside Quinhagak on Tuesday, August 26, 2014, in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta region of Southwestern Alaska.
Erik Hill / Alaska Dispatch News
Archaeologists race nature to preserve cultural artifacts at the Nunalleq site, located along the eroding shoreline of the Bering Sea outside Quinhagak on Tuesday, August 26, 2014, in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta region of Southwestern Alaska. The Qanirtuuq, Inc. village corporation partnered with the University of Aberdeen Department of Archaeology to preserve cultural items before more were lost to the sea.
Erik Hill / Alaska Dispatch News
Graduate student and volunteer excavator Anna Sloan of the University of Oregon examines a curved piece of wood found while digging at the Nunalleq archaeological site outside Quinhagak on Tuesday, August 26, 2014, in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta region of Southwestern Alaska.
Erik Hill / Alaska Dispatch News
A bentwood vessel sits partially exposed at the Nunalleq archaeological site outside Quinhagak on Tuesday, August 26, 2014, in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta region of Southwestern Alaska.
Erik Hill / Alaska Dispatch News
Pieces of a boardwalk remain in place as other sections have been covered or removed at the Nunalleq archaeological site outside Quinhagak on Tuesday, August 26, 2014, in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta region of Southwestern Alaska.
Erik Hill / Alaska Dispatch News
A model kayak bow draws attention for its unique style after it is unearthed at the Nunalleq archaeological site outside Quinhagak on Tuesday, August 26, 2014, in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta region of Southwestern Alaska.
Erik Hill / Alaska Dispatch News
Project director Dr. Rick Knecht screens material he has removed from a section of the Nunalleq archaeological site outside Quinhagak on Tuesday, August 26, 2014, in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta region of Southwestern Alaska. Most artifacts are found as the archaeologists scrape away dirt while working in the site, but screening the dirt before discarding it sometimes turns up small items hidden in clumps of mud.
Erik Hill / Alaska Dispatch News
Volunteer archaeologist Jessica Pepe of Tulane University examines a piece or worked wood she uncovered at the Nunalleq archaeological site outside Quinhagak on Tuesday, August 26, 2014, in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta region of Southwestern Alaska. Pepe, who worked the site two years ago, returned to help out again. Her graduate work is in emergency management of archaeological sites in disaster zones.
Erik Hill / Alaska Dispatch News
Maritime archaeologist Celeste Jordan puts her trowel down to examine an item found while scraping a section of the Nunalleq archaeological site outside Quinhagak on Tuesday, August 26, 2014, in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta region of Southwestern Alaska. Jordan, formerly of Alaska, is affiliated with Flinders University in Australia. She also worked at the site last year.
Erik Hill / Alaska Dispatch News
A caribou antler wedge with a raven's foot design is excavated by Dr. Veronique Forbes of the University of Aberdeen at the Nunalleq archaeological site outside Quinhagak on Tuesday, August 26, 2014, in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta region of Southwestern Alaska.
Erik Hill / Alaska Dispatch News
With his village in the background, Roy Mark pauses from screening to examine an item at the Nunalleq archaeological site outside Quinhagak on Tuesday, August 26, 2014, in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta region of Southwestern Alaska.
Erik Hill / Alaska Dispatch News
The planning, or mapping, of the dig to record locations of objects in context to each other is ongoing as work progresses at the Nunalleq archaeological site outside Quinhagak on Tuesday, August 26, 2014, in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta region of Southwestern Alaska.
Erik Hill / Alaska Dispatch News
Lithuanian student Zygimantas Tarvydas of the University of Aberdeen, right, confers with his instructor Dr. Rick Knecht after removing the bowl-shaped piece of a ladle at the Nunalleq archaeological site outside Quinhagak on Tuesday, August 26, 2014, in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta region of Southwestern Alaska.
Erik Hill / Alaska Dispatch News
Passing villagers Tamara and Dave Forbes check out a grass fish basket as Tricia Gillam of the University of Alaska Fairbanks works with it shortly after it was excavated at the Nunalleq archaeological site outside Quinhagak on Tuesday, August 26, 2014, in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta region of Southwestern Alaska.
Erik Hill / Alaska Dispatch News
Village elder George Pleasant, center, points at a modern grass fish basket held by Tricia Gillam of the University of Alaska Fairbanks as it is compared to a fish basket excavated from the Nunalleq site the day before on Wednesday, August 27, 2014, in Quinhagak. Cultural anthropologist Ann Fienup-Riordan of Anchorage met with a small group of elders over several days in late August, showing them items from the dig to help archaeologists learn more the pieces unearthed outside the village. Joshua Cleveland sits at left, and Nick Mark and Annie Cleveland participate at right.
Erik Hill / Alaska Dispatch News
Cultural anthropologist Ann Fienup-Riordan of Anchorage, left, meets with village elders Joshua Cleveland, George Pleasant and Annie Cleveland on Wednesday, August 27, 2014, in Quinhagak. Fienup-Riordan met with a small group of elders over several days in late August, showing them items from the dig to help archaeologists learn more the pieces unearthed outside the village.
Erik Hill / Alaska Dispatch News
Village elders Joshua Cleveland, left, George Pleasant and Nick Mark consider a tray of woven grass items found at the Nunalleq archaeological site on Wednesday morning, August 27, 2014, in Quinhagak. Pauline Matthew watches and listens in back. Cultural anthropologist Ann Fienup-Riordan of Anchorage met with a small group of elders over several days in late August, showing them items from the dig to help archaeologists learn more the pieces unearthed outside the village.
Erik Hill / Alaska Dispatch News
Melia Knecht, center left, offers information on labrets, pendants, earrings and other adornments as about 230 villagers turn out for the the show and tell for the Nunalleq archaeological site on Wednesday, August 27, 2014, in Quinhagak. The event, co-sponsored by the Qanirtuuq, Inc. village corporation and the University of Aberdeen Department of Archaeology, allowed villagers to view artifacts and learn about the excavation.
Erik Hill / Alaska Dispatch News
Project leader Dr. Rick Knecht shows a rare amber bead to Megan Cleveland, Mackenzie Forbes and Emily Cleveland at the show and tell for the Nunalleq archaeological site on Wednesday, August 27, 2014, in Quinhagak. The amber piece, a rarity in Alaska probably obtained via trade, was found August 14. The open house event, co-sponsored by the Qanirtuuq, Inc. village corporation and the University of Aberdeen Department of Archaeology, allowed villagers to view artifacts and gather information about the excavation.
Erik Hill / Alaska Dispatch News
An ivory pendant for an earring found August 19, 2014, is displayed at the show and tell for the Nunalleq archaeological site on Wednesday, August 27, in Quinhagak. The event, co-sponsored by the Qanirtuuq, Inc. village corporation and the University of Aberdeen Department of Archaeology, allowed villagers to view artifacts and gather information about the excavation.
Erik Hill / Alaska Dispatch News
A seal face adorns a wooden labret displayed at the show and tell for the Nunalleq archaeological site on Wednesday, August 27, 2014, in Quinhagak. Labrets were inserted into the lower lip as ornaments. The open house event, co-sponsored by the Qanirtuuq, Inc. village corporation and the University of Aberdeen Department of Archaeology, allowed villagers to view artifacts and gather information about the excavation.
Erik Hill / Alaska Dispatch News
Sonita Cleveland models an extremely large labret as it would have been worn while Florence Mark takes her photo at the show and tell for the Nunalleq archaeological site on Wednesday, August 27, 2014, in Quinhagak. Labrets were inserted into the lower lip as ornaments. The open house event, co-sponsored by the Qanirtuuq, Inc. village corporation and the University of Aberdeen Department of Archaeology, allowed villagers to view artifacts and gather information about the excavation.
Erik Hill / Alaska Dispatch News
Wooden dolls and heads are displayed at the show and tell for the Nunalleq archaeological site on Wednesday, August 27, 2014, in Quinhagak. The event, co-sponsored by the Qanirtuuq, Inc. village corporation and the University of Aberdeen Department of Archaeology, allowed villagers to view artifacts and gather information about the excavation.
Erik Hill / Alaska Dispatch News
Tenaya Tunutmoak helps Jacqui Graham, a doctoral student at the University of Aberdeen, pack up artifacts following the show and tell for the Nunalleq archaeological site on Wednesday, August 27, 2014, in Quinhagak. The event, co-sponsored by the Qanirtuuq, Inc. village corporation and the University of Aberdeen Department of Archaeology, allowed villagers to view artifacts and gather information about the excavation.
Erik Hill / Alaska Dispatch News
Darren Cleveland, left, hands his delighted grandmother Mary Cleveland a wooden bowl with a bent wood rim to hold as they attend the show and tell for the Nunalleq archaeological site on Wednesday, August 27, 2014, in Quinhagak. The piece was excavated in early August. The open house event, co-sponsored by the Qanirtuuq, Inc. village corporation and the University of Aberdeen Department of Archaeology, allowed villagers to view artifacts and gather information about the excavation.
Erik Hill / Alaska Dispatch News
Erik Hill,Lisa Demer

QUINHAGAK -- On the eroding Bering Sea coast of far Western Alaska, archaeologists from around the world are unearthing remnants of an ancient Yup’ik village frozen in place for hundreds of years.

Archaeologists involved say it’s the biggest excavation of Yup’ik artifacts from before the arrival of Russians and other Europeans in the early 1800s. The research is taking place in this remote Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta village as well as labs in Europe, Canada and the United States. A leading anthropologist last week sat down with elders to see what they can tell about the finds, from stories passed down over generations.

In a region where tradition says old treasures should remain undisturbed, the Yup’ik people of Quinhagak invited the archaeologists in.

Read more: Archaeologists rush to save ancient Yup’ik treasures threatened by melting permafrost