Ozette Indian Village Archeological Site
Ozette Indian Village Archaeological Site
|Nearest city||Neah Bay, Washington|
|NRHP Reference #|||
|Added to NRHP||January 11, 1974|
The Ozette Indian Village Archeological Site is the site of an archaeological excavation at Ozette on the Olympic Peninsula near Neah Bay, Washington, USA. The site was a village occupied by the Makah people until a mudslide inundated the site around the year 1750.
Around 1560 (according to radiocarbon dating), a mudslide engulfed part of a Makah village along the coast of modern day Washington near Lake Ozette. Archaeological test pits were excavated at the Ozette site in 1966 and 1967 by Richard Daugherty. However, it was not until 1970 that it became apparent what was buried there. After a storm in February 1970, tidal erosion exposed hundreds of well preserved wooden artifacts. The excavation of the Ozette site began shortly after. University students worked with the Makah under the direction of archaeologists using pressurized water to remove mud from six buried long houses. The excavation went on for 11 years and produced over 55,000 artifacts, many of which are on display in the Makah Museum at the Makah Cultural and Research Center.
The mudslide preserved several houses and their contents in a collapsed state until the 1970s when they were excavated by Makahs and archaeologists from Washington State University. More than 55,000 artifacts were recovered, spanning a period of occupation around 2,000 years,:171 representing many activities of the Makahs, from whale and seal hunting to salmon and halibut fishing; from toys and games to bows and arrows. Of the artifacts recovered, roughly 30,000 were made of wood, extraordinary in that wood generally decays particularly fast.:113 Hundreds of knives were recovered, with blade materials ranging from mussel shell,:113 to sharpened beaver teeth, and iron, presumed to have drifted from Asia on wrecked ships. The oral history of the Makah mentions a "great slide" which engulfed a portion of Ozette long ago.
The Makah Museum opened in 1979 and displays replicas of cedar long houses as well as whaling, fishing, and sealing canoes.
Ozette was occupied prior to frequent European visitation. It was therefore in existence before smallpox and other foreign diseases decimated the population. Since the mudslide buried the village and houses so rapidly, Ozette provides good preservation of what a society looked like as it was before abandonment or after looting.
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- Schalk, Randall (1988). "Management Zones and Archaeological Expectations". The Evolution and Diversification of Native Land Use Systems on the Olympic Peninsula. University of Washington Institute for Environmental Studies.
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