“The Russians Are Coming”: U.S.–Soviet Collaboration in the Study of the Prehistory of Beringia during the Cold War—Joint Excavations in the Aleutian Islands, 1974

Aleksandr K. Konopatsky, Yaroslav V. Kuzmin and Richard L. Bland


In 1974, William S. Laughlin, who had been excavating on Anangula Island, one of the earliest prehistoric sites in the Aleutian Islands, invited Aleksei P. Okladnikov, the grand master of archaeology in Northeast Asia, to visit and take part in fieldwork. Okladnikov managed to get permission to come to the USA bringing along four researchers, mostly his former Ph.D. students. One of those, Aleksandr K. Konopatsky, kept a diary of their travels and impressions of the Western Hemisphere, a land and people rarely viewed by those behind the Iron Curtain. The diary tells of the Russians’ experience at the village of Nikolski on Umnak Island and their excavations alongside Americans at the sites on Anangula and Umnak islands.

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