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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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Laura B. Harold in American Antiquity

“When archaeologists find isolated crania or headless burials in situ…two potential behaviors are typically considered…trophy-taking and ancestor worship…(t)he former implicates violent scenarios…the latter has a non-violent interpretation, suggesting emotional attachments to deceased individuals from the community [Eerkens et al. 2016].

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Laura Brink Harold, M.A., in the Stable Isotope Analysis Lab

Our Lab Director, Laura Brink Harold, M.A., and her co-authors argue the latter for Early-period societies in Central California in the January 2016 edition of American Antiquity in the article “Trophy Heads or Ancestor Veneration? A Stable Isotope Perspective on Disassociated and Modified Crania in Precontact Central California” citing contextual site information, stable isotope analyses, and research of regional sites.

Following discussions with the Most Likely Descendant, co-author Ramona Garibay, the team employed stable isotope analyses to determine if isolated crania associated with site CA-CCO-548 derived from local residents or non-local individuals. Samples of bone, tooth, and calculus from approximately 200 individuals began the process of reconstructing life histories for those interred at the site. Comparable isotopic results from isolated crania and headless burials support the hypothesis of ancestor veneration.

Read the abstract below or visit American Antiquity or ResearchGate.net for the full article.

Abstract: Few items in the archaeological record capture the imagination more than human heads separated from their bodies. Such items are sometimes assumed to indicate warfare practices, where “trophy heads” display power and fighting prowess. Other times, they are interpreted as representing ancestor veneration. Isolated crania are not uncommon in the Early period (ca. 4500–2500 B.P.) in Central California. Some anthropologists interpret them as trophy heads, but isotopic analyses at CA-CCO-548 suggest an alternative interpretation. Strontium isotope analyses on one modified cranium produced values consistent with local individuals, and both headless burials and people buried with extra skulls overlap in carbon and nitrogen isotopes. Further, teeth from two individuals who were buried with extra skulls suggest both were weaned at early ages (before age 2), much earlier than other individuals at the site. Together with contextual information, we argue that the isotopic data are more consistent with the hypothesis that extra skulls and headless burials represent ancestor veneration rather than trophies, shedding new light on Early-period societies in Central California.

Eerkens, Jelmer W., Eric J. Bartelink, Laura Brink, Richard T. Fitzgerald, Ramona Garibay, Gina A. Jorgenson, and Randy S. Wiberg

2016

Trophy Heads or Ancestor Veneration? A Stable Isotope Perspective on Disassociated and Modified Crania in Pre-Contact Central California. American Antiquity 81(1):114-131.

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Far Western’s Byerly and Roberson in North American Archaeologist

Image2Bison Under the auspices of the Northern Chapter of the Colorado Archaeological Society, and supported by the Colorado State Historic Fund, Far Western Principal Investigator Ryan Byerly and Senior Archaeologist Joanna Roberson, along with Assistant Professor of Biological Anthropology and Paleoanthropology Charles Egeland of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, report on recent survey and test excavation at the well-known Coffin Bison Kill.

The Coffin Bison Kill in Jackson County, Colorado, occupies a topographic gateway between the basin and range country of Wyoming and North Park in the Rocky Mountains. Located in a valley at the headwaters of the North Platte River, which is known as “buffalo pass” to some Native groups, the site is an important point in the cultural landscape of the indigenous people who inhabited Northern Colorado and Southern Wyoming during the Late Prehistoric and Protohistoric periods. It was also a landmark for eighteenth-century Euro-American explorers and trappers.

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Their work at Coffin Bison Kill revealed separate activity areas including a kill area, utilizing a local rock outcrop as a drive or blind, and nearby camp and/or retooling areas. The site’s artifact assemblage included hunting weaponry and processing tools along with a wide variety of projectile points, “Shoshone knives,” and ceramics. At least three bison kill and processing events are evident. These span the late fifteenth to nineteenth centuries and imply that one of the last kill events in the region occurred around the time that Euro-American explorers entered North Park.

These findings demonstrated that the Coffin Bison Kill has the potential to contribute significant information about local subsistence economies and social interaction during a tumultuous period of Euro-American infiltration.

Read the full article in North American Archaeologist 36(4):266–288.
or on ResearchGate.net.

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Far Western at Geological Society of America

Image courtesy of Dr. Kathleen Nicoll.

Image courtesy of Dr. Kathleen Nicoll, Department of Geography, University of Utah.

 

Laura Murphy, Ph.D., represented Far Western’s Geoarchaeology department at the Geological Society of America Conference held in Baltimore, Maryland. Laura co-chaired, along with Justin Holcomb, Ph.D. candidate, a session titled: “Frontiers in Geoarchaeology,” combining 14 paper and 12 poster presentations on a variety of new field, laboratory, quantitative, and technological approaches for better understanding the archaeological record. Moreover, the session explored understudied environments, confronted issues of scale, and discussed how geoarchaeologists are building new models and paradigms to address the human and environmental past. Dr. Murphy presented a paper titled: “Toward a quantitative landscape geoarchaeology: Implications for hunter-gatherer land-use intensification and populations.” Invited keynote speakers included Dr. Rolfe Mandel, University of Kansas, Dr. Carlos Cordova, Oklahoma State University, and Dr. Kathleen Nicoll, University of Utah.

GSA
A complete list of presentations and posters can be found here:
GSA Presentations and GSA Posters

 

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Projects to Honor Native Americans

This complex project involved numerous project stakeholders that included campus officials, staff of Native American descent, students of Native American descent; campus arboretum officials; and members of the Patwin community. Tammara Norton and the other members of her team conducted numerous meetings with all project stakeholders and developed a plan to honor Native Americans on campus. Ms. Norton personally worked with campus landscape and systems personnel, and the project committee to select locations for 11 installations including a contemplative garden. All design work and the final Plan for the UC Davis Project to Honor Native Americans was completed in only 26 months. Far Western’s dedication to this project is exemplified by Ms. Norton’s volunteer efforts to see that the construction of the Contemplative Garden was completed in 2009.

In 2013, Ms. Norton completed designs for a park honoring the Chumash at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, and she is currently working on plans for a garden to honor the Ohlone in San Jose, California. Construction of the San Jose project is scheduled for late 2016.

 

Inventory
Evaluation and Testing
Effects Mitigation
Geoarchaeology
Sensivity and Constraints
Environmental Planning Support
GIS and Cartography
Monitoring
Public Outreach and Interpretation

Eric Wohlgemuth, PhD

Eric Wohlgemuth
Eric Wohlgemuth
Email Eric

Eric received his B.A. and M.A. degrees at California State University, Chico, and his Ph.D. from University of California, Davis, in 2004. He has worked as a professional archaeologist since 1977. Since joining Far Western in 1985, he has conducted archaeobotanical research (the study of plant remains preserved in archaeological sites) at hundreds of sites throughout California and Nevada, and acted as Principal Investigator on a wide array of projects. He has written more than 100 technical archaeobotanical and generalist reports, including peer-reviewed publications on California plant remains.

Wohlgemuth, Eric

2016

Report on Excavations at Site CA-NAP-39,Tulucay Bridge Repair Project, State Route 121,  Napa County, California.

Wohlgemuth, Eric, Meta Bunse, Julia Costello, and Jeff Rosenthal

2006

Prehistoric Land Use and Obsidian Production in Upper Napa Valley: Extended Phase I Investigations of CA-NAP-710/H, -711, and -805, and Phase II Investigations at CA-NAP-710/H, and CA-NAP-712, along State Route 29 near St. Helena, Napa County, California

Wohlgemuth, Eric, Angela Younie, and Adrian Whitaker

2017

Data Recovery Excavations at CA-CAL-277/H for the Big Tree Creek Storm Water Compliance Project, State Route 4, Calaveras County, California.

His more general interests include the archaeology of central California, and the evolution of complex hunter-gatherer societies and their transition to agricultural economies.

Eric directs a team of archaeobotanists that specializes in the recovery and identification of charred plant remains from archaeological sites. In conjunction with remains of animals, fish, and shellfish, plant remains are used to:

  • Document prehistoric and historic-era use of food resources and landscapes.
  • Identify changes in use of native foods across time and space.
  • Reconstruct past environments and their changing patterns as landscapes evolved.
  • Contrast food remains with fuel residue through wood charcoal identification (working with Paleoscapes of Bailey, Colorado).

Far Western’s archaeobotany lab features:

  • Flotation equipment and personnel capable of processing hundreds of archaeological sediment samples.
  • A reference collection of more than 1,000 seed, fruit, root, and wood samples from California and Nevada.
  • A relational data base with quantitative and qualitative data on more than 2,500 flotation samples from central and northern California.
  • Binocular microscopes ranging from 7-70X magnification, including digital image capture capability.
  • A digital scale with resolution to 0.1 milligram for weighing nutshell and berry pit fragments.

 

 

Inventory
Evaluation and Testing
Effects Mitigation
Geoarchaeology
Sensivity and Constraints
Environmental Planning Support
GIS and Cartography
Monitoring
Public Outreach and Interpretation

FW Historical Archaeology Program

Far Western is pleased to highlight our expanding Historical Archaeology Program.

 

Historical Archaeology is the study of material culture supported by written documents and other historical evidence. In the Americas this coincides with periods of European and Native American contact and subsequent colonization, urbanization, industrialization, and globalization. Written, oral, and archaeological data provide different types of information, and historical archaeologists work to weave these together—filling gaps, exploring nuances, and providing a better understanding of past lifeways and historical developments. Working to connect the past and the present, historical archaeologists uncover and explore the material traces of life in the emerging modern world.

To meet the goals of cultural resources management and historic preservation compliance, Far Western historical archaeologists employ a wide range of archaeological and historical research methods to identify, evaluate, and treat historic-period sites, structures, features, and artifacts.

Historical Archaeology Team:

Cassidy DeBaker, MA

 

 

Historical Archaeology

Historical archaeologists investigate material culture supported by written documents and other historical evidence. In the Americas this coincides with periods of European and Native American contact and subsequent colonization, urbanization, industrialization, and globalization. Written, oral, and archaeological data provide different types of information, and historical archaeologists work to weave these together—filling gaps, exploring nuances, and providing a better understanding of past lifeways and historical developments. Working to connect the past and the present, historical archaeologists uncover and explore the material traces of life in the emerging modern world.

What we do: 

Far Western historical archaeologists employ a wide range of archaeological and historical research methods to identify, evaluate, and treat historic-period sites, structures, features, and artifacts. Archaeological methods relevant to historic-period sites and material culture are complemented with historical research, including the analysis and synthesis of historic-period maps, documents, oral histories, and folklore, to construct narratives of how people are connected to both places and the past. To meet the goals of cultural resources management and historic preservation compliance, Far Western historical archaeologists assess historic-period site sensitivity to identify archaeological deposits for avoidance or recovery at all project phases.

In-House Historical Archaeology Resources:

  • Historic artifact type collection
  • Digital library of historical archaeology reports
  • Library of historic artifact identification and analysis resources

Featured Historical Archaeology Projects:

  • Sunnydale Sewer System Improvement Project: Archaeological monitoring and identification of two late nineteenth century schooners.
  • Gray’s Crossing: Exploration of Overseas Chinese labor at a nineteenth-century charcoal production complex near Truckee, California.
  • Boca Dam: Archaeological excavations at an early ice works operation and Civilian Conservation Corp camp in Nevada County, California.
  • Copper Mining: Cultural resources inventory in western Nevada exploring twentieth-century copper mining features.
  • Rawhide Mining District: Cultural resources inventory at gold and silver mining sites in western Nevada.
  • Gold Butte: Cultural resources inventory in Clark County, Nevada that includes mines, Civilian Conservation Corp check dams, and various historic-period roads and features.
  • Historical Archaeological Workshop for Caltrans and State Parks 2018-2019

Featured Historical Archaeology Outreach:

Devin Garvey, BA

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Email Devin

After graduating in 2009 from Vassar College with a BA in Anthropology, Devin worked for a year at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City before moving west to begin working with Far Western on the Ruby Pipeline Project.  In the following years, he garnered extensive field experience across California, Nevada, and Utah as a field technician, monitor, and crew chief at a variety of CRM firms.

 

Inventory
Evaluation and Testing
Effects Mitigation
Geoarchaeology
Sensivity and Constraints
Environmental Planning Support
GIS and Cartography
Monitoring
Public Outreach and Interpretation

Devin’s Key Projects

  • Thacker Pass – Crew Chief
  • Feather River West Levee Project – Crew Chief
  • Ruby Pipeline – Lead Monitor

Andrew Hoskins, MA


Email Andrew

Andrew is a Staff Archaeologists at Far Western’s Great Basin Branch in Carson City. He earned a BS in Anthropology from Central Michigan University in 2011, and an MA is Anthropology/Archaeology from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2016. Since 2012, Andrew has worked in the Great Basin researching, reporting, surveying, and excavating historic and prehistoric resources as part of both management and academic teams. His primary focus is on Nevada archaeology but his experience in the west extends to Idaho, Oregon, California, Utah, and Wyoming. Andrew has presented at regional and national conferences and his research interests include lithic technological organization, Great Basin projectile point typologies and chronologies, atlatl-bow transition in the west, and efficacy of cultural resource management strategies.

Inventory Evaluation and Testing Effects Mitigation Geoarchaeology Sensivity and Constraints Environmental Planning Support GIS and Cartography Monitoring Public Outreach and Interpretation

Andrew’s Outreach and Key Projects

  • Nevada Archaeological Association Board Member
  • Am-Archs of Nevada Member
  • Soldier Meadows ACEC Survey and Excavation
  • Hill Airforce Base UTTR Survey and Excavation
  • Trego Hot Springs Testing

Andrew’s Featured Publications and Posters

Martin, Erik, Daron Duke, and Andrew Hoskins

2018

Poster. Trends in Paleoindian Projectile Point Technology during the Pleistocene-Holocene Transition in the Northern High Plains and Old River Bed Delta. Research Presented at the 83rd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, District of Columbia, April 11-15.

Orvald, Tucker and Andrew Hoskins

2017

A Class III Cultural Resources Inventory of 436 Acres in the Soldier Meadows Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) and Adjacent Public Lands, Humboldt County, Nevada. Far Western Anthropological Research Group, Inc., Carson City, Nevada. Submitted to Bureau of Land Management, Black Rock Field Office, Winnemucca, Nevada.

Hoskins, Andrew

2016

Evaluating Antiquity and Morphology of Corner-notched Dart Points in the Eastern Great Basin. Unpublished Master’s thesis. University of Nevada, Reno, Anthropology Department.