Wednesday, September 22, 2010


An archaeological dig currently under way at Jackson Hole (Wyoming, USA) has discovered evidence of Early Archaic (3,500 to 6,000 BCE) visitors. The area was a good one to visit for early man as it had a good habitat for elk, bison and other wildlife as well as being a major source, together with the surrounding area, of obsidian, which was the main raw material for tool and weapon production.

The site was first discovered in 2001 when the Wyoming Department of Transportation had plans to widen the main road. The current dig is being lead by the Office of the Wyoming State Archaeologist. In one area a 2 meter deep trench is providing clear evidence of the strata in the area, with the remains of a roasting pit at a depth of 1 meter (1,000 - 3,000 BC) and ice age river cobbles exposed in the base.

Tools made from obsidian, sourced from five different areas, have been found, which is allowing the archaeologists to map the routes and distances that the prehistoric hunters traveled, in some cases this amounts to thousands of miles on foot. Obsidian projectile points have also been found, dating from 3,500 BC to 7,500 BC but these need to be confirmed by radiocarbon dating.

The most excitement for the archaeologists is being caused by the finds from the Early Archaic (3,500 - 6,000 BC) period, where a period of high temperatures (known as the Altithermal), lasting approximately 2,500 years, forced hunters into the mountains around Jackson Hole, as the plains and low lying areas became more arid.

Skulls with full sets of teeth have been found which suggests that a good healthy lifestyle. The dig is expected to last another two years, at which time it will become buried under the new road.

Edited from The Jackson Hole News & Guide (15 September 2010)
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