There have been some accidental finds of course, such as the woolly mammoth from Yenisei Bay to the north west of the Nizhnyaya Tunguska River in Siberia, which imply that there was some migration towards the Bering Straits earlier than previously thought. Many historians do support the theory that those who crossed the Straits and remained in the far north of what is now Alaska, Canada and Greenland, eventually became known as the Inuit Culture.

Auction house Andrew Smith & Son, recently discovered within a property of textiles, a small marine ivory figure from these Peoples of the Arctic Circle. Similar figures are known, some also carved from walrus, or other marine ivory. Interestingly, there is a comparable example, said to be a doll, from Uanalakeet Village in Norton Sound, Alaska which was acquired by the Smithsonian in 1878, a period in American History when Native traditions were generally supressed.

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The Andrew Smith example is clearly without arms and ears; its design is original, abstract and anthropomorphic.  The thighs and calves are notable for their strong build, possibly a veiled reference to the long walk which the forefathers of the carver had taken from Siberia. The auctioneers estimate of £500-1 000 reflects the challenge of accurate dating for these figures, but as archaeology in Alaska unfolds, it is likely that the art traditions of the Inuit may prove to be far more ancient than we imagine.

The figure will be part of Andrew Smith's auction on 18th and 19th July, 2017.

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