The Mystery Of Whale Bone Alley: Who Built It, And Why?

The history of the human race is of contsant interest to us. Many strange and unknown peoples have walked the earth before us, and everything that we see today holds a piece of history in it. Our human history, the story of who we are, is as intriguing to us as anything else on this planet. Without it, we cannot know ourselves.

History, therefore, stands like a window that opens on different portals and different times. This allows people to look into the past, not only out of idle curiosity, but to learn from it. We are unique in that way, the only animal on earth that looks at itself in retrospection and learns, not just by example, from consciously from its long-dead forefathers.

One of the many intriguing treasures of our anthropological history is that of Whale Bone Alley. In the windswept blue waters of the Bering Sea , 24 km (15 miles) northwest of Cape Chaplino in the easternmost tip of Russia, sits Yttygran Island. Today, the once-obscure island is famous for its ecotourism and historic travel trails. And, most strangely, its whale bones.

Yttygran Island holds the remnants left by many native tribes, now long-scattered or extinct. In the waters surrounding the island, beluga and bowhead whales can be seen lazily swimming. These whales have provided the raw materials which have made this island famous. Yttygran Island, Whale Bone Alley, and the whales are all interlinked.

Yttygran Island lies 1.5 km (1 mile) off the coast of eastern Asia, just south of the Arctic Circle. Its location at the extreme easternmost tip of Russia means that it is also little more than 200 km (125 miles) from Alaska, in the United States .

The island is tiny, only 13.5 km (8.4 miles) long and 5 km (3.1 miles) wide. The island may be small, but has some unique history to offer the visitor. Because of this, and because of its natural mountainous beauty, the island is highly popular as a tourist spot today. The island is part of the Russian Federation, and this tourism is the main source of income for its residents.

Whale Bone Alley

Yttygran Island is most famous for a very peculiar reason. The island is home to the Whale Bone Alley, a 550m (601 yard) stretch of land where giant whale bones and skulls dot the landscape like strange, ancient standing stones.

Whale bones dot the island, apparently in an elaborate pattern (National Ocean Service)

The Alley was discovered in the year 1976, when Soviet archaeologists stumbled upon the site while exploring the island. The initial site they explored contained around 34 bones from bowhead whales. These bones were arranged roughly in a line, and so the archaeologists gave it the name Whale Bone Alley. The arrangement of whale bones was found to date back to 600 years ago, and was extremely unusual and interesting from an anthropological perspective.

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