BARROW - A group of tourists taking the midnight run out to Point Barrow hoped to see polar bears. It was foggy on June 21, the summer solstice, and what the group ended up seeing was not exactly what they had anticipated.
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Daniel Lum of NorthernMost Tours took a group of visitors from Australia and the Lower 48 out to the point. On their way, Lum passed by major sightseeing locations in Barrow and Browerville, pointing out what were once sod homes of the ancient village of Ukpeagvik.
Several miles north of the Naval Arctic Research Lab, Lum stopped the big white van for a photo opportunity on the shores of the Chukchi Sea.
Between posing for shots by the sea ice, the group sifted through the sand and rocks, looking to see what the sea spit out.
Partly covered and buried in the sand was an old human jawbone, with almost all its teeth intact.
While a startling discovery for Lum and his group, this type of finding is not completely uncommon in that area, said Anne Jensen, senior scientist at the Ukpeagvik Inupiat Corp. Science Center in Barrow.
The proximity to the ancient village of Nuvuk, where many Inupiat were buried for more than 1,000 years, means that every so often, something of the sort surfaces and lets a group of tourists play archeologist for the day.