The damp, cramped den called On Your Knees Cave offered shelter to people seeking refuge from the glacial climate. They camped here at least 10,000 years ago.
Black and brown bears had long occupied the cave, and perhaps the man who died here in his early 20s pursued a bear with obsidian-tipped spears. The hunter left little of his body behind - a lower jaw, some of his pelvis, ribs and backbones. No one can say how he died, but gnaw marks on his bones came from a carnivore that scavenged the remains.
Chemical signatures in bits of his jaw and pelvis reveal that Prince of Wales Island Man ate a diet heavy in seafood, rather than relying on the meat of abundant deer or bear. He had to hike a half mile to reach the coast from the cave, but tools found in and around the cave suggest that he and his cohorts were accustomed to long-distance travel.
Artifacts fashioned from a variety of exotic raw materials - obsidian, quartz, cherts and opal-like silica - that would have been unavailable on the island could mean that extensive trading had begun along the Pacific coast.
Though discovered just a few weeks before Kennewick Man, the Prince of Wales Island Man has traveled a much less contentious and controversial path to reveal a few clues about the earliest Americans. Alaskan tribal representatives agreed to have his remains examined and dated, and to participate in continuing excavations. Copyright © 1999 Discovery Communications Inc.
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Last Updated 18 Feb 2000 by CSmith