Documentary showcasing Aberdeen uni’s Alaskan dig to feature at film festivals

Dr Rick Knecht, from the University of Aberdeen, at Nunalleq
Dr Rick Knecht, from the University of Aberdeen, at Nunalleq

A documentary that follows the excavation by an Aberdeen team at an Alaskan dig site will feature in two film festivals.

Children of the Dig, made by film-maker Joshua Brandstetter, follows the story behind the Nunalleq excavations, which are being worked on by Aberdeen University’s department of archaeology.

The documentary was produced in collaboration with the Nunalleq Project, Qanirtuuq Inc, the village of Quinhagak and the university, with support from the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

More than 60,000 artefacts have been found on the Nunalleq site, which is on the beach just outside Quinhagak in Alaska.

The documentary, which was filmed last year, follows the Aberdeen University team and locals from Quinhagak during the process, highlighting some of the finds.

It has now been officially selected for two film festivals, the Docs Without Borders Film Festival, and the Anchorage International Film Festival – which will take place later this month.

Mr Brand-stetter said: “The work in Quinhagak is unprecedented, uncovering 60,000, 500-year-old artefacts.

“It is the most productive dig in Arctic history.

“More than that, it’s a sea change. For almost as many years cultural preservation has been in the hands of westerners and defined by westerners behind glass. Not this time.”

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He added: “This is different, and you can see that recognition in the people you meet in Quinhagak.

“You can see their pride.

“You can feel it when you walk down the street and people pull their four-wheelers over to say ‘Hi’ and tell you the time they found a lamp, a bone or a mask at Nunalleq.”

Items that have been found so far during the dig include a range of masks, a doll and decorations, as well as a house, a children’s throwing board, an ivory fish lure and a children’s bow.

A previous documentary – called Old Harbour, New Hope – won three awards at film festivals, and was the official selection at five more.

You can view Children of the Dig at
To find out more about the Nunalleq dig, visit the website