SHI to sponsor lecture by archaeologist on discovery of ancient stone fish weir

    The age of the weir, which was found in Shakan Bay on the west side of Prince of Wales Island, pushes back Native occupation of the region by more than 1,000 years.

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - SHI will sponsor a lecture on Tuesday to dive more deeply into the discovery of an ancient, submerged stone weir, which was found near Prince of Wales Island this year.

    The free event will be held in person and virtually at 12 p.m., Tuesday, December 13th in Shuka Hit within SHI's Walter Soboleff Building, 105 S. Seward St. in Juneau.

    The lectures will also be live-streamed and posted on SHI's YouTube channel.

    The stone weir was found through a partnership between a team of scientists and SHI.

    In her lecture, Our Submerged Past: The Importance of a Submerged Fish Weir in Shakan Bay, underwater archaeologist Dr. Kelly Monteleone will expound upon the research team's significant find, which is the oldest stone weir ever found in the world.

    The trap is estimated to date from at least 11,100 years ago.

    In the continental shelf and islands on the west side of Prince of Wales Island, a drastic sea-level rise occurred at the end of the Last Pleistocene/Early Holocene.

    There was up to 176 m of sea-level rise, from -165 m to 11 m, in approximately 7,000 years, which is an enormous change in a relatively short time, Monteleone wrote.

    The stone fish weir was confirmed on the seafloor at about 52 m and its age demonstrates that early land-use locations (archaeological sites) are preserved on the continental shelf.

    The find supports the hypothesis that people migrated to the Americas along the coast-a theory supported by ancient Tlingit oral histories-instead of a land bridge across the Bering Strait.

    "The submerged coastline would have been part of the route for early peoples journeying to the Americas at the end of the last glacial period," Monteleone wrote.

    The structure was found in 2010 by use of side-scan sonar technology, which detects images on the seafloor. Scientists suspected the vague image to be that of a stone weir, but the team didn't explore the discovery underwater until earlier this year.

    Funding is provided by NOAA Ocean Exploration.

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