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February 10th, 2010

Surviving ancient Alaska

Craig Lee and James Dixon (former INSTAAR, now Univ. of New Mexico) - along with their colleagues in the National Park Service and at the University of Alaska Fairbanks - are featured in a National Geographic Series “Naked Science.” The episode is titled “Surviving Ancient Alaska" and includes Lee and Dixon's research into the archaeological potential of melting snow and ice in Denali and Lake Clark National Parks. It will air on the National Geographic Channel on Thursday, January 28 at 8:00 PM.

An increasing number of archeological and paleontological sites are being discovered in association with melting snow and ice resources around the world. Although artifacts are occasionally found on glaciers, they are primarily recovered at smaller, perennial snow and ice features, or “ice patches,” that persist in many mountainous regions as a result of seasonal accumulations of windblown snow. These features were used prehistorically for a variety of purposes, including hunting. Efforts aimed at identifying similar environments at lower latitudes, e.g., in Rocky Mountain and Yellowstone National Parks, are ongoing.

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