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Archaeologists have uncovered a 350-year-old massacre in Alaska that occurred during a war that may have started over a dart game. The discovery reveals the gruesome ways the people in a town were executed and confirms part of a legend that has been passed down over the centuries by the Yup'ik people.
A recent excavation in the town of Agaligmiut (which today is often called Nunalleq) has uncovered the remains of 28 people who died during the massacre and 60,000 well-preserved artifacts.
People - Grass - Rope - Knecht - Holes
Some of the 28 people found "had been tied up with grass rope and executed," said Knecht, adding that "they were face down and some of them had holes in the back of their skulls from [what] looks like a spear or an arrow."
When exactly the massacre occurred is not certain, though Knecht said the complex was constructed sometime between A.D. 1590 and 1630. It was destroyed by an attack and fire sometime between 1652 and 1677, he added.
Start - War
The start of war?
The massacre occurred during what historians called the "bow and arrow wars," a series of conflicts in Alaska during the 17th century. According to one Yup'ik legend, the conflict started during a game of darts when one boy accidently hit another in the eye with a dart. The father of the injured boy knocked out both eyes of the boy who caused the injury, the story goes. Then, a relative of the boy who had both eyes knocked out retaliated, the conflict escalating as other family members of the two boys got involved. The dart-game melee eventually resulted in a series of wars across Alaska and the Yukon.
Colder - Weather - Food - Shortage - Conflict
The colder weather may have caused a food shortage that could have triggered the conflict, Knecht said.
Stories passed down over the centuries tell how the people of Agaligmiut, led by a man...
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