New Petroglyphs Hiding in Plain Sight Discovered at Alitak


Maggie Wall/KMXT

Nine previously unknown petroglyphs were recently discovered near Cape Alitak.

As KMXT’s Maggie Wall reports, they were just there — in a spot where many people have walked right past without seeing them.

(More Petroglyphs 4:32 SOQ")

Alutiiq Museum Executive Director Sven Haakanson has been working with the Village of Akhiok, going out to Cape Alitak for 10 years examining and studying the known group of petroglyphs.

During those many visits he has walked right past the newly discovered petroglyphs-time and time again. He says this latest discovery was just a matter of right time, right light-and there they were:

-((Walked right past them :24 "They’re in the general…there they are."))

Often referred to as stories in stone, the petroglyphs are primitive drawings hammered or dug into rocks and boulders and rock outcroppings. Faces, whales, fish and other animals were recorded by early island residents.

A big part of the Alutiiq Museum’s efforts at Cape Alitak is to document and photograph the petroglyphs. Unfortunately, like the people who carved them, the petroglyphs will recede into history:

-((Petroglyphs eroding :16 "As we work with the community…they are eroding."

They are eroding because-being rocks-they are exposed to the elements, so they are slowly wearing off as the rocks wear down:

-((Documentation efforts :36 "The primary thing…or even now."))

Thoughts of rock art and primitive drawings may bring to mind the cave paintings in France. Haakanson, who has visited France, says there are many similarities. The French caves were sealed to protect those drawings, something that won’t be done here since the petroglyphs are in their natural element.:

-((French cave drawings 1:07 "Well they sealed the caves…yes, yes."))

So what’s an archeologist to do? As Haakanson said, the Alutiiq Museum is documenting the petroglyphs, but the current exhibit of touch-me replicas is an interesting twist that allows people in town and visitors to experience the petroglyphs up-close-and-personal:

-((Exhibit idea :35 "When we were…make it go faster."))

While the original Alitak petroglyph artists are long gone, their work remains-at least for now. And as Haakanson found out earlier this summer, there are likely even more works of primitive art yet to be discovered. Maybe right along the path, just waiting for the right sun beam to shine just right on an ancient treasure.

I’m Maggie Wall.


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