© AP Photo/Kodiak Daily Mirror, Wes HannaAlutiiq Museum curator Patrick Saltonstall holds up a 3,000-year-old stone bayonet point Sept. 13, 2011 at the museum in Kodiak, Alaska. The point was recovered during the Kodiak, Alaska community archaeology project.
Going into the community archaeology dig this summer, Alutiiq Museum curator Patrick Saltonstall hoped to find one of the oldest inhabited sites on the Kodiak archipelago.

What Saltonstall and a team of volunteers unearthed this year at the Amak site, near the Salonie Creek Rifle Range, was something different but no less important for understanding the people who lived on Kodiak Island thousands of years ago.

While the ocean is about a mile away from the site today, 3,000 years ago Womens Bay extended farther inland. The Amak site would have been overlooking a beach area at the head of the bay.

Saltonstall said instead of encountering a fishing camp or a winter site as he expected, the artifacts gathered at the site suggest a temporary hunting camp. It offers a glimpse into an aspect of the seasonal life of prehistoric Alutiiq people that has not been well understood or documented.

"We found almost nothing but hunting tools - just big lances," Saltonstall said. "It looks like people were going there with finished tools and hunting something. They weren't living there, really, so it was a very distinctive site assemblage that says something. A very different assemblage than any of our other sites."

Instead of finding flakes created in the production of hunting tools, the assemblage contained just completed blades, both broken and whole.

© AP Photo/Kodiak Daily Mirror, Wes HannaAlutiiq Museum curator Patrick Saltonstall holds up a collection of 3,000-year-old stone bayonet points Sept. 13, 2011 at the museum in Kodiak, Alaska. The items were found at the Amak site, believed to be an oceanside hunting camp possibly abandoned when a prehistoric tsunami swept the area.

So while not as many artifacts were uncovered this year as at previous excavations, the site yielded more hunting bayonets than all other excavations combined, in Saltonstall's estimation.

Yet, with the excavation season over and lab work in progress, some large questions remain in Saltonstall's mind about the site.

The excavation uncovered a huge pile of rocks and noted that a large amount of dirt had been moved from part of the site and piled elsewhere. This represents a great deal of work in a time before shovels. The reason behind so much effort isn't completely clear.

Another mystery came near the last day of the excavation as the community archaeology team discovered a structure that didn't match the rest of the hunting camp. However, without time to do a thorough excavation of that structure, it was reburied.

And then there are signs that the hunting camp site is associated with older settlements from thousands of years earlier - but those signs have been obscured by later activity at the site.

The Amak site will likely be the subject of a community archaeology program again next year to answer the remaining questions.

By 3,000 years ago, Saltonstall estimates, the Amak site was no longer in use. Geological clues at the site suggest a tsunami 4,000 years ago may have washed away structures. After that, a large ash fall some 3,800 years ago contributed to the bay receding toward its current location and the Amak site no longer being used in the same way.

"Our whole purpose of our community archaeology is we're looking at Womens Bay through time," Saltonstall said.