In late 1812 or early 1813, the London-built, Russian-owned frigate Neva foundered on rocks somewhere near Sitka Sound, in Tlingit territory on Baranof or Kruzof Islands, SE Alaska, (map). The Neva was a prominent ship of Russian colonial Alaska having, for example, taken part in the 1804 Battle of Sitka as well as making multiple round trips during the maritime fur trade hauling sea otter pelts to Chinese and Russian ports. The actual wreck site has never been found. However, in 2012 archaeologists led by Dave McMahon and the Sitka Historical Society found a small historical-era site which they thought might be where the 28 survivors of the wreck sheltered for a month before being rescued in January 1813. An intriguing and suggestive find in 2012 was an apparent cache of Russian made axeheads (above), suggesting further work was called for. In 2015, a fuller excavation took place finding a remarkable assemblage “focused on survival”, not at all typical of early historic settlement sites. So, while there is no smoking gun yet, such as crockery with the Neva’s monogram, there are plenty of indicators that this site is where the survivors sheltered in the not-entirely benign Alaskan winter while awaiting a rescue that might never come.
Most viewed posts in last few days
- Coast Salish "Woolly Dogs," ca. 1946
- Archives of "The Native Voice"
- Songhees claim to Cadboro Bay
- Puget Sound Clovis
- Highlights from the Kwäday Dän Ts’ìnchi Project
- Revisiting the Salt Spring Island Archives
- Historic Maps and Dioramas of Victoria and Environs
- Harpoon Arrows
- "BC Studies" is now mostly free
- Keatley Creak
- alaska anthropology Archaeological Society of BC Archaeological Society of British Columbia Archaeology archives argillite art artifacts ASBC british columbia canoes clovis CMT Coast Salish conservation CRM Cultural Resource Management Esquimalt ethnohistory First Nations first peopling fish fishing fish traps fish weirs Fraser River Gulf Islands Haida Haida Gwaii Heiltsuk historical archaeology history household archaeology Intertidal Kilgii Gwaay Makah maps museums Northwest Coast Nuu-chah-nulth Oregon organic technology palaeoenvironment palaeontology petroglyphs pictographs pleistocene pre-clovis Public Archaeology Puget Sound RBCM repatriation rock art Royal BC Museum Salish Salish Sea salmon sculpture Seattle SFU Songhees southeast alaska Straits Salish tlingit ubc underwater archaeology uvic Vancouver Vancouver Island Victoria BC Washington State waterlogged sites wet sites zooarchaeology