Archaeologists have unearthed the remains of 28 people who died during a massacre in the town of Agaligmiut now often called Nunalleq.
Recent excavation of the site also uncovered about 60,000 artifacts from the bloody event about 350 years ago. The new discovery reveals the brutal details of the massacre.
The Bow And Arrow Wars
The massacre was a part of what historians have referred to as the "bow and arrow wars" in the 17th century. According to legend, the series of conflict was started during a game of darts when a boy was accidentally injured.
The father of the injured boy knocked out both eyes of the boy who caused the injury. The relative of the boy who had both eyes knocked out retaliated, triggering a series of wars that raged across Alaska and the Yukon.
"There's a number of different tales," said Rick Knecht, a professor of archaeology at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland.
Whether the war began because of an accident during a dart game remains to be seen, but what the archaeologists know right now is it happened during the little ice age. Knecht suggested that the scarcity of food might have triggered the series of conflict across Alaska and the Yukon.
A Bloody Massacre
The legend also claims that the people of Agaligmiut created a war party to attack another village. However, the residents of the other village knew about the attack and ambushed the attackers.
After the ambush, the fighters from the other village attacked Agaligmiut and because all of the men of fighting age joined the war party, only women and children were slaughtered.
The 28 bodies unearthed recently by archaeologists suggest that the stories were true. The team confirmed that the people slaughtered consisted mostly of women, older men, and children. Only one body was a male of fighting age.
The archaeologists also revealed that some of the victims of the massacre were tied up with a grass rope before they were executed. Some had holes in the back of their skulls which suggested that they were hit with a spear or an arrow.
Artifacts From Ancient Town Unearthed
The excavation also yielded 60,000 artifacts that revealed what it was like to live in the area prior to the war. The artifacts included dolls and figurines, wooden dance masks, and grass baskets, all of which were perfectly preserved by permafrost.
"It's amazing, a lot of these things could just be used today," added Knecht. "Sometimes, we find the wood still bright and not even darkened by age."
The team transpoted the artifacts immediately to the University of Aberdeen to be preserved before they deteriorate. The items will all be sent back to Alaska in time for the opening of the Nunalleq Culture and Archaeology Center later this year.