Indiana Jones Meets Olympic College

BY KELSEY KIM

When most people think of Archaeology, they probably think of Indiana Jones making remarkable discoveries in Egypt, Morocco, and Nepal. What if it were possible to glimpse historic artifacts without leaving the expensive cost to traveling to far off places? Or that it were possible to peek back into time without leaving the comfortable familiarity of Kitsap County?

Olympic College (OC) has partnered with local institutions to excavate and study a village site on Bainbridge Island. The “Yama Project” – directed by our very own OC Anthropology Professor, Dr. Robert P. Drolet – is named after the village located near Blakely Harbor and was originally surveyed in the summer of 2014.

Yama was a village of Japanese immigrants that thrived between 1883 and the 1920s. Within the village lay cottage-style homes, a church, a Buddhist temple, a hotel, and a store in order to support the 200-300 individuals living there. Despite these edifices being long gone, small fragments still remain. Fragments of glass, metal, porcelain, garbage, and other items are scattered where the village use to flourish. This is where Drolet, his team, and other institutions partner together to recover said materials.

Since this project began, an Archaeology Field School accompanied with an Archaeology Laboratory has been created at OC. This program allows students from OC to take part in the intense 7-acre excavation program that will occur 2015 to 2017. Students will get hands-on experience recovering materials from the early Japanese immigrant residents who lived in the Yama village. They will be directed by professional anthropologists, archeologists, and museum specialists affiliated with Bainbridge Island Historical Museum, Kitsap County Historical Society and Museum, and Olympic College.

This is no small task by any means. Monthly meetings are held by representatives from the aforementioned institutions to stay on top of project developments. The authorization of field work at Yama was formalized by the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding and the finalized Washington State permit application. The Yama project has been selected for State and National status.

An exceptional exhibit showcasing the project has been shown at the Bremerton Olympic College campus this month. The exhibit displayed photos of the Yama village in the 18th and 19th centuries, as well as recovered artifacts and photos of the current site. Many came to learn more about this exciting notable discovery and find out information regarding the new anthropology plans OC has to offer.

Olympic College is proud to present a 2015 summer archaeology course (Anthropology 270) that will teach students field methods and techniques at the Yama site. Individuals who wish to receive more information regarding the Yama project or the anthropology course should contact Dr. Robert P. Drolet at rdrolet@olympic.edu