Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Seven feet in length and out of the permafrost to be kept in it's original condition as specimen. Young bull Woolly Mammoth tusk from the right side of the skull with an age of perhaps forty thousand years in the permafrost.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Woolly Mammoth tusk following dissection in two pieces to expedite international shipping to my studio. Some ivory discoveries do not have specimen potential and are used for my sculpture enterprise, this is one of those tusks...This is exceptional coloration of the interior of a tusk. Due to the cracking, this ivory will primarily be used for jewelry compositions.

Fireweed flowers about to be cooled off by the incoming rain. Always beautiful in the arctic and the farther north, these flowers grow just inches off the tundra as the cool air restricts tall growth.

It was amusingly close encounter with this caribou and while I tried for a great photo she came even closer to me. At the point she jabbed me with her antlers while I photographed her and lucky for me her antlers were still in velvet and relatively soft. I moved on...

Endless and absent of people for hundreds of miles, my old beaches, for years in my sojourn alone and trekking as with boat. Too often adventure finds me in my quest of learning and understanding this region and grants me peace and definition."A certain 'third world' living has found me in this region in my dreams and in my summers...all of my life."

The Bering Sea on the left and a fresh water tributary on the right side. The green tundra strip running between is common to contain prehistoric earthen house sites. Each of these house sites contain ivory and artifacts and the occasional human remains.

A fine well preserved example of another harpoon carved from caribou antler, Bering Sea Thule.
This particular harpoon does not have a groove for an end blade but instead the tip is the blade. A truly remarkable discovery and a squirrel did the work. Just under four inches long and used to harpoon seals mainly. I did not excavate any farther yet it is probable that there is additional findings.

Above the exposed harpoon is yet another uncovered. It is often that a cache of artifacts can be excavated in the same site as they were left for future use by ancient hunters. It is common to find similar artifacts in prehistoric dwellings in a cache deposit.

Removed and cleaned from the borrow entrance of the ground squirrel, it now appears to be carved from caribou antler and very elaborate in design. Some harpoon toggles have a slit at the end to accommodate a stone blade to aid in performance. Even though it is very elaborate it is a representative of the 'Thule period of the Bering Sea region.'

With a closer examination, it appears the squirrel uncovered an ivory seal harpoon.

In the entrance of this ground squirrel den, this stone caught my eye and I peered closer to examine it and then the bone object came into view.

While beach combing I regularly search out eroded areas in the event of some artifact or bone that may be visible. On this small rise was either a camp site or observation area for an ancient hunter as the elevation gave advantage for viewing both marine mammals and other animals presence in all directions.

Beach combing the Bering Sea can produce any amount of surprises at any time including bears and caribou. The occasional moose and washed up walrus is not uncommon. In the photo is a walrus vertebrate as it lay, probably nine inches across.

"Earlier in the expedition I ventured a walk in the Fairbanks area around Fox township and found this grizzly skull.'' It appears to be last winter's incident as there was still flesh on parts of the bone. No other bones were found anywhere in the area and remains a mystery where they may have been. Fairbanks is a location I often visit prior to my arctic trip.

Toklat Grizzly on the run, in the sand, it's tracks and indeed witnessing him in all his antics with no doubt in a playful mood...

Immature Woolly Mammoth tusk retrieved from the river in the background. In the same river a young Toklat Grizzly bear charged straight towards me as I was searching the gravel for fossils. I had no time to react as this bear came out of the bush in a run. He grabbed a salmon twenty feet away from where I was standing and raced with it down the gravel bar, turned back and ran towards me again all the while ignoring me. Just as he turned to return to the bush he paused long enough to look at me and disappeared. Shortly after I discovered the tusk and pulled my camera out for this photo.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

"The Guardian of Dewey Lake" in Skagway Alaska, I carved in a cliff face in 1982 to watch over the many hikers on their way up the mountain, and I am back from the Arctic with more mammoth ivory specimens and carving material, wonderful trip...Bill Sidmore