Wooden Artifacts from Asx̂aana x̂ Cave, Islands of the Four Mountains, Alaska

Lucille Lewis Johnson


Asx̂aana x̂ Cave, a burial cave in the Islands of the Four Mountains, was excavated in 1990. One radiocarbon date for a burial in the front area of the cave is 700±60 BP (Beta-39962). Due to the conditions in the cave, there was excellent preservation of organic materials, though these had been considerably disturbed. Wooden artifacts include boat parts and paddles, bentwood and carved trays, bowls and baskets, netting tools, and ceremonial objects. The iqya- x̂ (baidarkas) are definitely Unangan but with peculiarities unique to the Islands of the Four Mountains; the carved Halibut bowl and many of the ceremonial objects bear strong resemblance to artifacts from Karluk One on Kodiak. The distribution of the wooden artifacts within the cave deposits suggests that the three areas excavated within the cave were used for burial by different family groups.

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