Far Western Crew Unearths 12,300-Year-Old Hearth in Utah

Overview fish eye

Excavation overview of the Wishbone site, Utah. Photo Credit: Todd Cromar

Last summer, a crew of Far Western archaeologists working on the Hill Air Force Base, in compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, sunk a 50-x-50-cm test probe into Utah’s arid ground and turned up something you would not expect to find in the desert: waterfowl bone. These were burned within a Paleoindian hearth now radiocarbon dated to 12,300 calendar years ago.

After exposing the remains, Principal Investigator Dr. Daron Duke, with Senior Archaeologist Sarah Rice, and Senior Geoarchaeologist Dr. D.Craig Young quickly realized they were uncovering evidence of a marshland landscape in the middle of the modern desert and life-ways of North America’s earliest inhabitants never seen before. They had discovered the oldest open-air hearth ever found in the Great Basin and the first known Ice Age camp for hunting and cooking exclusively waterfowl.

Excerpt from Dr. Duke’s field notes July 11, 2016 “Amazing day. Mike L. excavated a pristine Haskett point one cmbs and about 1 meter from the feature…

Excerpt from Dr. Duke’s field notes July 11, 2016
“Amazing day. Mike L. excavated a pristine Haskett point one cmbs and about one meter from the feature…”

In July, meticulous excavation fully exposed the hearth and its surrounding area. The team found thousands more waterfowl bone fragments and several stone tools, including an in situ Haskett projectile point discovered just one centimeter beneath the ground surface and one meter from the hearth.

Soil samples of the hearth’s contents were collected in the field and brought back to the Far Western archaeobotanical laboratory for flotation processing and analysis. The archaeobotanical team recovered charred remains of willow wood, and seeds of bulrush, pond weed, and tobacco. The tobacco seeds are thought to be the oldest ever found in North America, nearly 9,000 years older than previous finds in New Mexico and Bolivia. Archaeobotany Director Dr. Eric Wohlgemuth further elaborates on the implications of these finds:

The charred remains are representative of the ancient environment and the bulrush and pond weed seeds could be waterfowl stomach contents. While willow wood charcoal was found in this context, willow is absent from the local environment today.

Flotation process

Flotation process to recover charred plant remains. Photo Credit: Angela Arpaia

 

A press release of the discovery soon hit the internet entitled, Archaeologists Discover Proof of Wetlands, Ancient Life on the Utah Test and Training Range.

The story was also picked up by Western Digs, an online science news site focusing in archaeology, anthropology, and paleontology of the American West and by Standard-Examiner, a local daily news source in Utah.

 

 

 

San Francisco SAA 80th Meeting Successes

Far Western at SAA Meeting

Laura Brink and Stephanie Bennett at the Far Western table for the 80th Annual SAA Meeting.


The Society for American Archaeology (SAA) met in San Francisco for their 80th Annual Meeting – their largest meeting yet! The SAA is an international organization dedicated to the research, interpretation, and protection of the archaeological heritage for the Americas. This year, Far Western was well-represented with many successful presentations, including the opening session, and poster sessions. Learn more about the Society for American Archaeology HERE.

Use the buttons below to see abstracts from Far Western presentations and collaborations!

Angela Arpaia
Plant Remains Assemblage in Santa Clara Valley
Laura Brink
Reconstructing Mobility in the San Francisco Bay Area: Strontium and Oxygen Isotope Analysis at Two California Late Period Sites, CA-CCO-297 and CA-SCL-919
Ryan Byerly
Geochemical and Physical Characterization of Lithic Raw Materials in the Olduvai Basin, Tanzania
Brian Byrd
The Neolithic Houses of California – An Ethnohistoric Comparative Perspective on Household and Community Organization among Complex Hunter-Gatherers
Brian Byrd
Wadi Madamagh, Western Highlands of Jordan: Lithic Evidence from the Late Upper Paleolithic and Early Epipaleolithic Occupations
Daron Duke
Haskett Spear Points and the Plausibility of Megafaunal Hunting in the Great Basin
Tod Hildebrandt
Divergent Histories: Prehistoric Use of Alpine Habitats in the Toquima and Toiyabe Ranges, Central Great Basin
William Hildebrandt and Kelly McGuire
Middle Archaic Expansion into High Elevation Habitats: A View from the Southwestern Great Basin
Philip Kiajankoski, Jack Meyer, and Paul Brandy
A Land Transformed: Holocene Sea-Level Rise, Landscape Evolution, and Human Occupation in the San Francisco Bay Area
Lucas Martindale Johnson
Preliminary Interpretations of the Reduction Technology and Distribution of Obsidian Cores at Caracol, Belize: Learning to Reconsider Maya “Eccentrics” and Social Relations of Ritual Objects
Jack Meyer
Holocene Transformation of San Francisco Bay and Transbay Man Site Stratigraphy
Michelle Rich
From A Forest of Kings to the Forests of Peten: The Mirador Group at El Perú-Waka'
Nathan Stevens and Jeffrey Rosenthal
Geology, Historical Contingency, and Ecological Inheritance in California's Southern Sierra Nevada
Adrian Whitaker and Brian Byrd
An Ideal Free Settlement Perspective on Residential Positioning in the San Francisco Bay Area
Eric Wohlgemuth
Environmental Constraints and Plant Food Intensification in the Sacramento Valley
SHARE THIS: Share on Facebook Share on Google+ Share on LinkedIn Email this to someone

Rare Utah Finds Continue to Make News

Western Digs‘ new article “Over 1,000 Ancient Stone Tools, Left by Great Basin Hunters, Found in Utah Desert” cites Far Western’s work in the Utah Test and Training Ranges in 2012. The article mentions the vast assemblage of stone tools found in the Old River Bed Delta of Western Utah—including the largest Haskett Point ever recorded. Daron Duke, Principal Investigator and Director of our Desert Branch, mentions in the article that, regardless of its size, the “Haskett is very rare anywhere.”

“(T)hese finds help clarify a picture that has remained hazy for archaeologists: the life and times of the Great Basin’s earliest inhabitants, who may have been contemporaries of the ancient and widespread Clovis culture.” -Blake de Pastino, Western Digs

Check out the full article and photos HERE.
This find was also mentioned on the website of Archaeology Magazine.

Haskett Point 3D Model Below:

Supported Browsers: Safari, Mozilla Firefox, and Google Chrome.
ROTATE: Click and drag (or touch and drag). ZOOM: Scroll wheel (or pinch and zoom).


SHARE THIS: Share on Facebook Share on Google+ Share on LinkedIn Email this to someone

Far Western at the Nevada State Museum, Las Vegas

Press release from the Nevada State Museum:

Talk features rare tools used to hunt mammoth, Nov. 22

Taking down a prehistoric mammoth had to require some special talent and tools. Recent finds from the Great Salt Lake Desert are providing new evidence about projectile points in the Great Basin used for hunting more than 12,000 years ago. Anthropologist Daron Duke presents “New Evidence for Mammoth Hunting in the Great Basin from the Great Salt Lake Desert, Utah” from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 22 at the Nevada State Museum, Las Vegas.

“The Haskett subtype is arguably the oldest projectile point representative of the Western Stemmed Tradition, a Paleoindian stone tool complex,” Duke said. He will present images and discuss technological attributes for a collection of artifacts including one 22.6-centimeter (about eight-inch) showpiece that is the largest complete Haskett specimen yet documented archaeologically, he said. “The technological evidence supports the interpretation of Haskett points as sophisticated throwing/thrusting spear tips for very large game animals.”

The Nevada State Museum, Las Vegas actively engages people in understanding and celebrating Nevada’s natural and cultural heritage. The museum is one of seven managed by the Nevada Division of Museums and History, an agency of the Nevada Department of Tourism and Cultural Affairs. It is open Thursday through Monday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the grounds of the Springs Preserve. Visit the museum at 309 S. Valley View Blvd. or on Facebook. Adult admission is $9.95 and includes entrance to the Las Vegas Springs Preserve. For more information, contact sirvin@nevadaculture.org or (702) 486-5205.

SHARE THIS: Share on Facebook Share on Google+ Share on LinkedIn Email this to someone

Desert Branch Director on Las Vegas Public Radio

Dr. Daron Duke, Director of our Desert Branch in Henderson, Nevada, and Nicolas Pay of the BLM Caliente Field Office, were recently interviewed on public radio station KUNV 91.5 in Las Vegas as part of our public outreach efforts through the BLM’s Lincoln County (Nevada) Archaeological Initiative (LCAI). Far Western Art Director Tammara Norton arranged for the interview. She and Principal Investigator Sharon A. Waechter have produced several educational products for the LCAI, including a Public Service Announcement that has run on Nevada radio station KDSS and will run on KUNV this fall.

SHARE THIS: Share on Facebook Share on Google+ Share on LinkedIn Email this to someone