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Construction workers in Alaska find ancient remains

Last month in Kivalina, Alaska, construction workers unearthed the remains of three bodies who researchers now believe belong to the mysterious Ipiutak group of people.

Three bodies were found close to one another, two together and one in what could have been a wooden house. Archaeologists won’t be certain how old the Kivalina remains are until radiocarbon dating is done, but they believe the people were members of the Ipiutak — a group that lived in Alaska from about 500 to 900 A.D. Items found with the bodies include stone arrow points and carved ivory artifacts.

The discovery shows that Kivalina was occupied by humans about a 1,000 years longer than historians previously knew. It also sheds light on a mysterious group whose range and numbers are only just coming to light. Ipiutak are culturally distinct from the western Thule, whale hunters who were more clearly ancestors of the modern Inupiaq. Ipiutak hunted seals and smaller mammals on the coast but don’t seem to have hunted whale. Caribou bones and the use of wood suggest that they also used areas in the Interior.

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