Published: Prehistory of Nevada’s Northern Tier
American Museum of Natural History Anthropological Papers
Number 101

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Far Western is proud to present the publication of

Prehistory of Nevada’s Northern Tier: Archaeological Investigations along the Ruby Pipeline

By WILLIAM R. HILDEBRANDT,
KELLY R. MCGUIRE, JEROME KING, ALLIKA RUBY, and D. CRAIG YOUNG


With Contributions by David Rhode, Jeffrey Rosenthal, Pat Barker, Kaely Colligan, William Bloomer, Albert Garner, Nathan Stevens, Andrew Ugan, Kimberley Carpenter, Laura Brink, Sharon Waechter, Richard Hughes, Tom Origer, Sharlyn Street, and Wendy Pierce.

The 101st edition of the Anthropological Papers of the American Museum of Natural History

The Anthropological Papers is a monograph series that has been publishing important anthropological and archaeological studies for over 100 years, continuously since 1907. Noteworthy scholars that have contributed to the series include Franz Boas (often considered the father of American anthropology), Robert Lowie, Alfred Kroeber, Pliny Earle Goddard, Clark Wissler, Margaret Mead, David Hurst Thomas, and Robert Bettinger.

The series focuses on large-scale studies with national and international significance, geared toward a professional, scientific audience. It is distributed to every significant research library in the country, and many international facilities as well. It is now available online.

In one of the most prestigious outlets in the world, the publication demonstrates Far Western’s world-class research. The Anthropological Papers allows Far Western to reach a very large audience—an audience which wouldn’t be reached otherwise.

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All issues of Anthropological Papers of the American Museum of Natural History are available on the web from:
http://digitallibrary.amnh.org/dspace

Order printed copies on the web from:
http://shop.amnh.org/a701/ap101-2016-prehistory-of-nevada-s-northern-tier.html

or via standard mail from:
American Museum of Natural History—Scientific Publications
Central Park West at 79th Street
New York, NY 10024

Abstract
Prehistory in Nevada's Northern Tier: Archaeological Investigations along the Ruby Pipeline
The Ruby Pipeline originates in Opal, Wyoming, travels westward across Utah and Nevada, and terminates in Malin, Oregon. Almost 360 miles of the line is in Nevada, where it crosses through some of the most remote, sparsely populated land in the lower 48 states. Despite the remote nature of this corridor, it has produced a rich archaeological record reflecting a dynamic history of land-use pattern changes over a period of at least 13,000 years. Archaeological excavations were conducted at 578 prehistoric sites prior to construction of the pipeline. The sites were distributed across four ecological regions, including (from west to east): the High Rock Country, Upper Lahontan Basin, Upper Humboldt Plains, and Thousand Springs Valley. First evidence of human occupation dates to the Paleoindian (14,500-12,800 cal b.p.) and Paleoarchaic (12,800-7800 cal b.p.) periods, when people spent most of their time in the High Rock Country where important economic resources reached their highest densities. Paleoindian findings are limited to a series of Great Basin Concave Base projectile points and small obsidian flaked stone concentrations. Paleoarchaic sites are much more common, and tend to be represented by Great Basin Stemmed projectile points, bifaces, and a limited number of other flaked stone tools. Most of these assemblages reflect small groups of hunters refurbishing their tool kits as they traveled through the area. An important exception to this pattern was found at Five Mile Flat along the west end of pluvial Lake Parman where two significant habitation sites dating to 11,180 cal b.p. were discovered. One of these sites includes a house floor, which is the oldest ever found in the Great Basin. Despite the warm-dry conditions that characterized much of the middle Holocene, it appears that human populations nearly doubled during the Post-Mazama Period (7800-5700 cal b.p.). Most activity remained concentrated in the High Rock Country, but evidence for occupation begins to trickle out into the Upper Lahontan Basin and Upper Humboldt Plains regions as well. Most of the artifact assemblages remain rather narrow, often composed of Northern Side-notched and Humboldt Concave Base points, bifaces, and debitage, and reflect use of the region by mobile groups of hunters. Major changes took place with the arrival of the Early Archaic (5700-3800 cal b.p.) and continued forward into the Middle Archaic Period (3800-1300 cal b.p.). Early Archaic projectile points are largely represented by Humboldt and Gatecliff forms. It appears that population densities increased almost fourfold from the preceding interval, and all four regions experienced significant occupation for the first time. Simultaneous to this population increase and dispersal, a full complement of site types began to emerge, with large-scale residential areas becoming significant for the first time. This trend continued forward into the Middle Archaic Period where the relative frequency of residential sites almost doubled compared with the Early Archaic interval. Plant macrofossil and archaeofaunal assemblages also become more abundant and diversified at this time, probably marking a broadening of the diet breadth. This general trajectory extends into the Late Archaic (1300-600 cal b.p.) and Terminal Prehistoric periods, as people continued to expand into a wider range of habitats. This was particularly case for the latter interval, as the habitat preferences that made sense for over 12,000 years were upended, with population densities highest in the Upper Humboldt Plains and Thousand Springs Valley. This reorientation corresponds to the arrival of Numic speaking populations, especially the Western Shoshone who appear to have reached northern Nevada much earlier than the Northern Paiute, and is probably linked to a greater emphasis on small-seeded plants that are abundantly present in their territory. Although low ranked compared to many other foods, with the proper technology and work organization, small seeds could support higher population densities than was the case earlier in time. Finally, the discovery of obsidian in multiple Terminal Prehistoric sites from sources located much further away than any other time in the past may signal the earliest use of horses in northern Nevada.
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Monitoring

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Cultural Resources Monitoring

Far Western provides two types of monitoring—construction and site assessment. Construction monitoring consists of an archaeologist—often together with a Native American representative—observing the construction phase of a project to ensure that cultural resources are not inadvertently damaged or destroyed. We have monitored everything from small local building projects to major power and gas line installations, usually in consultation with Native tribes and government agencies. Some of our clients have included Kinder Morgan, Nevada Energy, Liberty Utilities, the Bureau of Land Management, and the US Forest Service. Big or small, these projects can have tight schedules, and Far Western works closely with construction personnel to keep things on track.

For site assessment monitoring, our archaeologists visit known cultural sites, often over a period of several years, to assess their physical condition and document any new or ongoing impacts that need to be addressed. Such monitoring is often a requirement for federal permits or funding. As an example, we have been hired by Pacific Gas & Electric Company to conduct multi-year monitoring for three different hydroelectric projects in support of their relicensing efforts.

Public Outreach and Interpretation

Public Outreach

Public Outreach and Interpretation

One of our particular talents is the design and production of broadcast-quality films, interpretive signs, brochures, training manuals, and other educational and outreach products. These often serve as mitigation for projects where adverse effects to significant archaeological or historical resources are unavoidable. Our highly skilled team will research and write content; supply original paintings, illustrations, photographs, and maps; and track down archival images, to make our educational and outreach products truly compelling.

To learn more, visit some of our key public outreach projects below:

VIDEO: Gold, Water and Power, PG&E on the Stanislaus River 

16 Minutes

In the Time when Animals were PeopleIn the Time when Animals were People is a collection of traditional Yokut and Western Mono stories gathered by anthropologists from tribal Elders who could still remember the old times. Those times are gone, but the people and the stories remain.

Creating VyaCreating Vya: The Dream of Dry Farming in Long Valley, Nevada describes the rise and fall of the community of Vya with additional information on Northern Paiute lifeways, early explorers, cattle ranching, and the failed Long Valley Water Project. The book includes numerous photographs by John L. Henry.

Life on the RiverThe book Life on the River – The Archaeology of an Early Native American Culture explains archaeological techniques and discoveries at a Shasta County site, located on the Upper Sacramento River. It documents Wintu lifeways just before and during the arrival of Europeans into the area.

People of the TulesThe Long Road Traveled is a public-oriented document about the Cuyama Valley. The full digital document is available in online-magazine form here. See the 3D Visualization Gallery here.

People of the TulesPeople of the Tules: Archaeology and Prehistory of California’s Great Central Valley presents information about excavations that revealed evidence of environmental and cultural changes. An audio version is available for the visually impaired.

Written on the Land: 10,000 Years of Human History along Marsh CreekWritten on the Land: 10,000 Years of Human History along Marsh Creek. For thousands of years before the Spanish, the Mexicans, or the Americans entered the East Bay/Delta region of California, Native people lived in this beautiful place.

Mountain Harvest: The Use of Pinyon Nuts by the Paiute and Their Ancestors Near Sherwin Summit, California.Mountain Harvest: The Use of Pinyon Nuts by the Paiute and Their Ancestors Near Sherwin Summit, California.

 

Stealing the Sun Stealing the Sun presents an overview of the prehistory of the central Sierra Nevada foothills by combining archaeology and traditional Me-Wuk stories.

 

Pieces of the Puzzle: Archaeologists work along SR 49Looking for Pieces of the Puzzle is a seven-minute video of archaeologists at work along State Route 49, in the Sierra Nevada foothills of western Tuolumne County, California.

Step Back in Time! Archaeology and Prehistory in Sierra Valley Step Back in Time! Archaeology and Prehistory in Sierra Valley highlights work with the Washoe tribe to preserve one of the most important archaeological sites ever found in northern California.

Many Cultures, One LandMany Cultures, One Land, covers the prehistory and historical events that forever changed the lives of the Native peoples in the area.

 

China Lake Rock ArtView spectacular rock art found at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, California.

 

GIS and Cartography

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Our highly skilled team uses standardized data collection techniques to maximize data quality, reliability, and usability.

Data Collection

  • We use standardized data collection techniques to maximize data quality, reliability, and usability.
  • We have a variety of mapping-grade GPS units and dedicated field computers to support Far Western field crews.

Mapping

  • We use our collected data to prepare site-specific maps.
  • We integrate a variety of client and public-sourced information for mapping purposes.

Analysis

  • We have expert-level analysts to explore spatial and temporal relationships with GIS data.

Data Management

  • We create usable and manageable database solutions.

Information Presentation and Dissemination

  • We are experienced in a variety of methods for simplifying and delivering complex or unwieldy datasets.

Geoarchaeology


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Understanding archaeological sites and their settings

Our outstanding team of geoarchaeologists plays an integral role in nearly every one of our projects. They have been honored for their innovative studies by the Society for California Archaeology and the California Preservation Foundation.

Regulatory agencies and researchers need to identify buried archaeological sites, or the potential for such sites, early in the environmental compliance process to prevent costly construction delays. Geological work can also be applied to regional sensitivity studies for buried sites, paleoenvironment, site structure and formation, and assessments of integrity.

What we have accomplished:

  • Regional geoarchaeological overviews examine the effects of landform evolution on the visibility of the archaeological record to establish the potential for buried sites. We have mapped about 40% of California, and we’re still mapping!
  • We conduct project-specific, three-dimensional buried site sensitivity assessments by reviewing relevant geologic, soil, geotechnical, and archaeological data to establish a range for buried sites potential (from none to very high).
  • We frequently document site structure to assess site integrity and to identify undisturbed or intact archaeological deposits to be targeted by excavation crews.
  • We can provide a comprehensive site history through identification of both natural and cultural site formation processes.
  • We conduct paleoenvironmental research which has contributed to a growing body of knowledge of climate change and landscape evolution during human occupation.

How we search for and manage buried sites:

  • Within highly sensitive areas, we conduct subsurface geoarchaeological investigations in advance of ground-disturbing activities.
  • In most situations, backhoe trenching is the most effective way to identify sites.
  • In situations where backhoe trenching is not possible (e.g., in urban areas), or the site depth exceeds the range of mechanical excavation, we conduct hydraulic continuous core sampling to identify sites.
  • If a site is identified prior to construction and cannot be avoided, it can be mitigated without impacting critical-path schedules.

Sensitivity and Constraints

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Pre-project planning leads to project success

Giving planners an edge in designing efficient, cost-effective projects, Sensitivity & Constraints studies can be crucial in the early stages of project planning. We use information about known resources in the project vicinity, combined with predictive models based on environmental variables and historical data, to assess or identify project alternatives and their potential to encounter archaeological resources. Far Western relies on a critical team of geoarchaeologists and GIS-based cartographers to develop models suitable in a wide variety of settings. Although not a regulatory requirement, these studies can often identify alternative routes to project success.

Effects Mitigation

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Creative solutions—from data recovery to public outreach

If adverse effects to significant cultural resources cannot be avoided through project design or other means, they must be mitigated in some way. Typically, in consultation with the permitting agency, there are many options including, but not limited to, data recovery through archaeological excavation, development of public interpretation or education programs, or allowing mechanisms for access to traditional resources or values. At Far Western, we pride ourselves on our creative approaches to mitigation. We have carried out literally hundreds of data recovery excavations and developed dozens of interpretive programs, including trail-side exhibits, educational curricula, children’s books, interpretive guides, and more.

Evaluation and Testing


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Assessing the significance of prehistoric, historic, and traditional cultural resources

Not every archaeological site is significant—only those with special cultural, scientific, and/or educational values. Significant sites can represent important events or people, provide examples of great artistic or engineering works, or add to our understanding of life in the past. They also retain good physical integrity and have not been heavily damaged or destroyed. Evaluation of significance involves careful documentation, dating, consideration of research potential, and often consultation with Native Americans and other interested parties. Historic-era sites may also require special archival research. Far Western’s permanent staff includes some of the most respected and experienced researchers in the field, which means that our evaluation recommendations are readily accepted by reviewing agencies.

Inventory

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Cultural Resources Identification and Documentation

Typically the initial step in complying with federal and state regulations regarding cultural resources, Inventory identifies and documents cultural resources (i.e., sites) within a project area. This begins with agency consultation to determine the specific needs and expected project coverage. Records and literature reviews highlight previous cultural resources investigations and sites prior to any necessary field studies. Far Western provides technical expertise to identify and accurately document the wide variety of prehistoric- and historic-era cultural resources that occur throughout western North America. Thorough inventory allows project planning to move forward in a timely manner, avoiding project pitfalls and resulting in regulatory success.