Wales Site

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Wales Site
Alaska Heritage Resources Survey
Wales Site.jpg
View of the Wales Site, with the city of Wales in the background
LocationAddress restricted[1]
Nearest cityWales, Alaska
NRHP reference #66000161
Significant dates
Added to NRHPOctober 15, 1966[2]
Designated NHLDDecember 29, 1962[3]

The Wales Site, whose principal component is the Kurigitavik mound, is a well-documented archeological site on the Cape Prince of Wales, near Wales, Alaska. This site has artifacts from the Birnirk culture[4] as well as the first discovery in Alaska of the later Thule culture.[3] The site was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1962 for its archaeological significance.


The Wales site is located on the south shore of the Seward Peninsula of northwestern Alaska, very near Cape Prince of Wales, the westernmost point in North American. The area is archaeologically sensitive, with a significant number of sites clustered in an area between the native village of Wales and the former Tin City Air Force Station. The Kurigitavik Mound (whose most recent survey designation is TEL-079) has been the focus of significant archaeological activity since the 1920s, when it was first examined by the pioneering Canadian anthropologists Diamond Jenness. It was again excavated by Henry B. Collins of the Smithsonian Institution in the 1930s, and by Don Dumond in the 1970s. Most recently it has been the subject of an extensive investigation by Roger B. Harritt, beginning in the late 1990s and extending into the 2000s.[5][6]

Finds at the site have included nearly complete partially subterranean house structures, including one in which seemingly ritualistically placed walrus skulls were found. Tools found at the site include barbed harpoon heads and bowls fashioned from baleen in a layer dated to the Punuk period (c. 800-1400 CE). The site is significant because it appears to include shifting cultural uses over time, between cultural groups engaged in different practices and originating either from other parts of Alaska or from Siberia.[5]

The site was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1962 for its archaeological significance, and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1966.[2][3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Federal and state laws and practices restrict general public access to information regarding the specific location of this resource. In some cases, this is to protect archeological sites from vandalism, while in other cases it is restricted at the request of the owner. See: Knoerl, John; Miller, Diane; Shrimpton, Rebecca H. (1990), Guidelines for Restricting Information about Historic and Prehistoric Resources, National Register Bulletin, National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, OCLC 20706997.
  2. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. April 15, 2008.
  3. ^ a b c "Wales Site". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved 2008-07-03.
  4. ^ NHL Alaska details
  5. ^ a b Harritt, Roger B (2004). "A Preliminary Reevaluation of the Punuk-Thule Interface at Wales, Alaska". Arctic Anthropology (Volume 41, No. 2). JSTOR 40316626.
  6. ^ Re-examining Wales' Role in Bering Strait Prehistory: Some Preliminary Results of Recent Work by Roger Harritt of the University of Alaska Anchorage

External links[edit]