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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
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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].

LBH

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.

Image1Bison

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

Christopher Parker, PhD

Kim Carpenter
Email Christopher

Christopher joined Far Western as a Senior Archaeologist and Ethnographer in 2019. He has worked as an archaeologist and ethnographer in the Great Basin since 2005, in academic, governmental, and CRM settings throughout Utah, Nevada, and California.

He received his Ph.D. in 2015 from the University of Utah, with research emphases on the evolution of human fire use, the archaeological signatures of anthropogenic burning, and the use of fire as a resource management tool by Martu Aborigines in the Western Desert of Australia. His current research focuses on fire use among Hadza hunter-gatherers in eastern Tanzania, and the effect of controlled low-intensity seasonal burning on traditional resources, specifically yampa (perideridia gairdneri), in Surprise Valley, CA.

Christopher has used ethnographic methods including archival research, participant observation, structured and semi-structured interviews, and recorded oral histories in Nevada, Utah, Tennessee, Australia, and Tanzania. He has worked as an ethnographer in academic settings, for federal agencies, and with tribal governments for Native Title claims in Australia.

 

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

Christopher’s Featured Projects

  • NAS Fallon Archaeological Reconnaissance Survey and Evaluations of Traditional Cultural Properties
  • NAS Fallon Ethnographic Study
  • Stillwater Traditional Cultural Properties Evaluation
  • LNC Thacker Data Recovery
  • Historic Properties Treatment Plan for the Tule River Spillway Enlargement Project
  • Bedrock Milling Features Context and Research Design for California Department of Transportation

 

Christopher’s Featured Publications

Parker, A.K., C.H. Parker, and B.F. Codding

2019

When to defend? Optimal territoriality across the Numic homeland. Quaternary International 518:3-10. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2018.05.034.

Parker, C.H. and K. Hawkes

2017

Optimal Foraging Theory. In Cox, R and Callan, H., editors, International Encyclopedia of Anthropology. New York: Wiley-Blackwell & Sons.

Herzog, N., E. Keefe, C.H. Parker, and K. Hawkes

2015

What’s burning got to do with it? Primate foraging opportunities in fire-modified landscapes. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 159(3):432 441.

Parker, C.H., N. Herzog, E. Keefe, J. F. O’Connell, and K. Hawkes

2015

Invited comment on “Burning the land: an ethnographic study of off-site fire use by current and historically documented foragers and implications for the interpretation of past fire practices in the landscape” by F. Scherjon, C. C. Bakels, K. MacDonald, and W. Roebroeks. Current Anthropology 56(3), 299-326.

Herzog, N., C. H. Parker, E. Keefe, J. Coxworth, A. Barrett, and K. Hawkes

2014

Fire, travel, and home range expansion: A behavioral response to burning among savanna dwelling Vervet monkeys (Chlorocebus aethiops). American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 154:554-560.

Bliege Bird, R., D. W. Bird, B. F. Codding, C.H. Parker, and J. H. Jones

2008

The “fire stick farming” hypothesis: Australian Aboriginal foraging strategies, biodiversity, and anthropogenic fire mosaics. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 105:14796-14801.

Bird, D. W., R. Bliege Bird, and C. H. Parker

2005

Aboriginal burning regimes and hunting strategies in Australia’s Western Desert. Human Ecology 33:443-464.

Bird, D. W., R Bliege Bird, and C. H. Parker

2004

Women who hunt with fire. Australian Aboriginal Studies 2004(1):90-96.

 

Accessible Archaeology

Translation: Oregon, Wappo Territory, Pacific Ocean, California, Nevada, Baja California

In October of 2017, numerous wildfires driven by high winds burned over 200,000 acres in Northern California. One of these, the Nuns Fire, burned over 56,000 acres in Napa and Sonoma Counties. The fire burned through portions of the Enchanted Hills Camp for the Blind and Visually Impaired, on forested Mt. Veeder eight miles northwest of Napa. After the fires, a PG&E forester visited the area to look for trees that would have to be removed near power lines. With the groundcover burned away, the forester saw a dense scatter of artifacts on the ground surface. Eric Wohlgemuth led the archaeological work at the site and found surprisingly dense artifacts, bone, and shell, including a fish bone from San Pablo Bay 25 kilometers away. The site was used as a short-term hunting camp about 900 years ago, then as a summer family camp about 400 years ago. Eric worked with Art Director, Tammara Norton to produce a truly unique educational booklet about the site…in Braille. The booklet includes raised impressions of a map showing the location of the Camp and the Wappo Tribe territory, a projectile point, biface, flake knife, and bone awl. The booklet will accompany the artifact collection that will be used to teach the Camp students about Native Americans.

Translation: Obsidian Biface Enlarged and Obsidian Scraper Enlarged

Sharon Waechter – 30 Years at Far Western

Sharon Waechter Featured Image
Sharon Waechter

After 30 years at Far Western, our esteemed colleague Sharon A. Waechter is retiring. Sharon’s collaboration and leadership in Native American archaeology, historical archaeology, and public outreach, as well as her editorial skill, exemplify the hard work that has made our company a success.

Sharon has worked as a professional archaeologist in California and Nevada since 1979. Her positions have included District Archaeologist and Assistant Forest Archaeologist with the Eldorado National Forest (five years); Resource Area Archaeologist with the Bureau of Land Management, Arcata (two years); Staff Archaeologist at the Cultural Resources Facility, Sonoma State University (three years); and as Principal Investigator, Field Director, report author, and general editor with Far Western since 1991. Her areas of special expertise and interest include the archaeology and history of the Truckee/Tahoe region and the northern Sierra, and public education and interpretation. Rarely backing away from applying new technology and methods to her projects, Sharon incorporated the use of GPS early on and has always advocated a multi-disciplinary approach, from geoarchaeology to forensic dogs, to complete her projects.

While Sharon has extensive background in archaeology, she also holds an M.A. in English/Creative Writing. Her editorial contributions are woven into almost every Far Western deliverable, from our style guides to interpretive panels dotting the public landscape of California and Nevada, to numerous brochures, booklets, reports, peer-reviewed articles, and books.

Many thanks to Sharon from Far Western Principals and our many archaeologists, past and present, for so many years of collaboration and hard work.

Kyle Freund, PhD


Email Kyle

Kyle is a Principal Investigator at Far Western and member of the company’s X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) Laboratory. His specializations include lithic analysis, obsidian sourcing via XRF spectrometry, GIS and spatial statistics, and field survey. Prior to joining Far Western, Kyle served as an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Indian River State College in Ft. Pierce, FL. He holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology from McMaster University, an M.A. from the University of South Florida, and a B.A. from the University of Florida.

Kyle has been involved in numerous field projects throughout the U.S., Italy, Greece, and Turkey and has spearheaded a variety of major research initiatives that demonstrate his ability to effectively oversee project development, execution, and advisory services relevant to cultural resource management and compliance. He has a significant publication record of original research in peer-reviewed journals, books, and technical reports and has presented this work at over 40 venues in 10 different countries. He has also served on numerous committees and boards, including within the Society for American Archaeology, the International Association for Obsidian Studies, and the Society for Archaeological Sciences.

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

Kyle’s Featured Projects

  • Trout Creek Fiber Line Survey, Utah
  • MCAS Yuma 20K Survey, Arizona

Kyle’s Featured Publications

Amicone, S., K.P. Freund, P. Mancini, R. D’Oriano, & C. Berthold

2020

New insights into Early Iron Age connections between Sardinia and Etruria: archaeometric analyses of ceramics from Tavolara. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 33: 102452.

Freund, K.P., L. Clark, & K. Gidusko

2019

Service learning in archaeology and its impact on perceptions of cultural heritage and historic preservation. Journal of Archaeology and Education 3(5): 1-21.

Freund, K.P.

2018

A long-term perspective on the exploitation of Lipari obsidian in central Mediterranean prehistory. Quaternary International 468a: 109-120.

Freund, K.P., & Z. Batist

2014

Sardinian obsidian circulation and early maritime navigation in the Neolithic as shown through social network analysis. Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology 9(3): 364-380.

Freund, K.P.

2013

An assessment of the current applications and future directions of obsidian sourcing in archaeological research. Archaeometry 55(5): 779-793.

Access Kyle’s publications at academia.edu.

Kyle’s Outreach Activities

  • General Secretary, Society for Archaeological Sciences (2017-present)
  • Member, Society for American Archaeology 2019 Annual Meeting Program Committee
  • President, International Association for Obsidian Studies (2018-2020)
  • Member, Society for American Archaeology Committee on Ethics (2015-2018)
  • Member, Society for American Archaeology Undergraduate Awards Committee (2015-2018)