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Photo: BBC.
“In the extreme northwest corner of the contiguous US,” reports the BBC, a 1970s storm uncovered a forgotten village.

If Lewis Carroll’s “boiling hot” sea becomes a reality, if the ocean doesn’t overflow from melted icebergs but instead dries out, will the lost Kingdom of Atlantis rise up?

Something like that already happened in 1970 on the west coast of Washington state.

Brendan Sainsbury wrote at the BBC, “In 1970, a violent storm uncovered a Makah village that was buried by a mudslide more than 300 years earlier. A newly re-opened museum tells the fascinating story of the ancient site.

“Coming to the end of a short, winding trail, I found myself standing in the extreme north-west corner of the contiguous US, a wild, forested realm where white-capped waves slam against the isolated Washington coast with a savage ferocity. Buttressed by vertiginous cliffs battling with the corrosive power of the Pacific, Cape Flattery has an elemental, edge-of-continent feel. No town adorns this stormy promontory. The nearest settlement, Neah Bay, sits eight miles away by road, a diminutive coast-hugging community that is home to the Makah, an indigenous tribe who have fished and thrived in this region for centuries.

“The Makah are represented by the motif of a thunderbird perched atop a whale, and their story is closely linked to the sea.

” ‘The Makah is the only tribe with explicit treaty rights to whale hunting in the US,’ explained Rebekah Monette, a tribal member and historic preservation program manager. ‘Our expertise in whaling distinguished us from other tribes. It was very important culturally. In the stratification of Makah society, whaling was at the top of the hierarchy. Hunting had the capacity to supply food for a vast number of people and raw material for tools.’

“After reading recent news stories about the Makah’s whaling rights and the impact of climate change on their traditional waters, I had come to their 27,000-acre reservation on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula to learn more, by visiting a unique tribal museum that has just reopened after a two-year hiatus due to Covid-19.

“Due to a trick of fate, Makah history is exceptionally well-documented. In contrast to other North American civilizations, a snapshot of their past was captured and preserved by a single cataclysmic episode. In 1970, a brutal Pacific storm uncovered part of an abandoned coastal Makah village called Ozette located 15 miles south of Cape Flattery.

Part of the village had been buried by a mudslide that was possibly triggered by a dramatic seismic event around 1700, almost a century before the first European contact.

“Indeed, recent research argues that ancestors of the Makah – or related Wakashan speaking people – have been present in the area for at least 4,000 years, which, if proven, would change our understanding of prehistory in the Olympic Peninsula and Vancouver Island.

“Miraculously, the mud had protected embedded organic matter by sealing it off from the air. As a result, thousands of well-preserved artifacts that would normally have rotted – from intact woven cedar baskets to dog-hair blankets and wooden storage boxes – were able to be painstakingly unearthed during a pioneering archaeological dig. …

“The Washington Post called it ‘the most comprehensive collection of artifacts of a pre-European-contact Indian culture ever discovered in the United States.’

“Anxious the material might be engulfed by the sea and lost, the tribe called in Richard Daugherty, an influential archaeologist at Washington State University who’d been involved in fieldwork in the area since the 1940s. Having good connections with Congress, Daugherty helped secure federal funding for an exhaustive excavation.

” ‘Dr Daugherty was instrumental in the excavation work,’ recounted Monette. ‘He was very progressive and interested in working alongside the tribe.’ …

“The Makah, like many indigenous groups, have a strong oral tradition, with much of their history passed down through storytelling, song and dance. The evidence unearthed at Ozette affirmed these stories and added important details. …

“While much of the material dated from around 1700, some of it was significantly older. Indeed, archaeologists ultimately determined that multiple mudslides had hit Ozette over a number of centuries. Beneath one of the houses, another layer of well-preserved material dated back 800 years. The oldest finds so far have been radiocarbon-dated to 2,000 years and there are middens in the area that are at least 4,000 years old, according to [archaeologist Gary Wessen, a former field director at the site who later wrote a PhD dissertation on the topic].

“From the outset, the Ozette dig was different from other excavations. Tribal members worked alongside university students at the site, and, early on, it was decided that the unearthed material would stay on the reservation rather than be spirited off to distant universities or other non-indigenous institutions. In 1979, the tribe opened the Makah Cultural and Research Center in Neah Bay with a museum to house a ‘greatest hits’ of the collection. The 500 pieces currently on display represent less than 1% of the overall find.

” ‘The tribe was very assertive of their ownership and control of the collection,’ said Monette. ‘A lab was developed in Neah Bay. For the museum, we hired Jean Andre, the same exhibit designer as the Royal BC Museum in Victoria.’ “

More at the BBC, here. Doesn’t it sound like Pompeii, only with the preservative being mud instead of volcanic ash?

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