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Frontiers in Colorado Paleoindian Archaeology

From the Dent Site to the Rocky Mountains

Edited by Robert H. Brunswig and Bonnie L. Pitblado

Publication Year: 2007

As the Ice Age waned, Clovis hunter-gatherers began to explore and colonize the area now known as Colorado. Their descendents and later Paleoindian migrants spread throughout Colorado's plains and mountains, adapting to diverse landforms and the changing climate. In this new volume, Robert H. Brunswig and Bonnie L. Pitblado assemble experts in archaeology, paleoecology-climatology, and paleofaunal analysis to share new discoveries about these ancient people of Colorado. The editors introduce the research with scientific context. A review of seventy-five years of Paleoindian archaeology in Colorado highlights the foundation on which new work builds, and a survey of Colorado's ancient climates and ecologies helps readers understand Paleoindian settlement patterns. Eight essays discuss archaeological evidence from Plains to high Rocky Mountain sites. The book offers the most thorough analysis to date of Dent--the first Clovis site discovered. Essays on mountain sites show how advances in methodology and technology have allowed scholars to reconstruct settlement patterns and changing lifeways in this challenging environment. Colorado has been home to key moments in human settlement and in the scientific study of our ancient past. Readers interested in the peopling of the New World as well as those passionate about the methods and history of archaeology will find new material and satisfying overviews in this book.

Published by: University Press of Colorado


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pp. vii-viii

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-xii

List of Contributors

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pp. xiii-xiv

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pp. xv-xvi

The earliest inspirations for this book sprang from a burgeoning interest in the Dent site and my contact in 1986 with Frank Frazier, discoverer or co-investigator of many well-known Paleoindian sites in the Greeley, Colorado, area during the 1960s and 1970s. Without Frank’s generous help and provision of undocumented research records from the 1973 University of Colorado site testing, the Dent site research reported in Part 2 of this volume would never have transpired. Likewise, the collaborations reflected in the Dent ...

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pp. xvii-xviii

We see this book as in no small part a tribute to our many friends and colleagues who have contributed both to the success of this volume and to Colorado archaeology. Bob expresses special gratitude to Bill Butler, Jim Benedict, Jim Doerner, Darrin Pratt, and Frank Rupp at the academic end of the spectrum. At the personal end, he thanks his wife, Becky, for putting up with an absent (mentally ...

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pp. 1-7

The state of Colorado has, since the dawn of Paleoindian archaeology, occupied a central position in the field, both geographically and intellectually. Several Paleoindian “firsts,” a suite of archaeological characters in the discipline’s colorful cast, and many methodological and theoretical innovations can all be linked to three-quarters of a century of Colorado Paleoindian archaeology. Advances in Colorado Paleoindian archaeology ...

Part 1: Environmental and Archaeological Context

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1. Late Quaternary Prehistoric Environments of the Colorado Front Range

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pp. 11-38

This chapter examines the prehistoric environments of the Colorado Front Range during the past 25,000 years, the interval encompassing the most recent glacial-interglacial cycle (Porter 1983). This interval is generally referred to as the late Quaternary Period and is a critical time in both human and earth history. It was during this time that humans first arrived in North America, large-scale ...

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2. That Was Then, This Is Now: Seventy-Five Years of Paleoindian Research in Colorado

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pp. 39-84

The origins of Colorado’s Paleoindian studies are virtually synonymous with the foundations of Paleoindian archaeology in the United States. In fact, two of the state’s earliest, albeit poorly and incompletely reported, discoveries, the Dent Clovis and Lindenmeier Folsom sites (1924–1931), pre-date discoveries and early investigations of their respective cultures’ type-sites: New Mexico’s (Blackwater Draw) Clovis and Folsom sites ...

Part 2: New Research at the Dent Clovis Site, Northeastern Colorado Plains

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3. New Interpretations of the Dent Mammoth Site: A Synthesis of Recent Multidisciplinary Evidence

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pp. 87-121

The Dent Mammoth Site (5WL269) was discovered in the spring of 1932 when flood runoff eroded mammoth bone from a draw draining low sandstone cliffs west of the South Platte River floodplain near Milliken, Colorado (Figure 3.1). A passing railroad foreman, Frank Garner, noted the eroding bones and informed the local Dent depot operator, Michael Ryan, of the find. Ryan’s son later reported ...

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4. Season of Death of the Dent Mammoths: Distinguishing Single from Multiple Mortality Events

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pp. 123-153

The Dent site, in northeastern Colorado, is the first discovered, and still one of the most influential, of the sites that document association of Paleoindians with late Pleistocene mammoths (Mammuthus columbi) in North America (see Brunswig, Chapter 3, this volume for an overview of site history). Yet the nature of this association remains a matter of debate. Open questions include whether the deaths of the mammoths ...

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5. Processing Marks on Remains of Mammuthus columbi from the Dent Site, Colorado, in Light of Those from Clovis, New Mexico: Fresh- Carcass Butchery Versus Scavenging?

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pp. 155-184

In 1978 I examined skulls, mandibles, and teeth of the Dent site mammoth sample in storage at the Denver Museum of Natural History (DMNH)—now the Denver Museum of Nature and Science—and on exhibit in museums in Cleveland, Ohio, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Skulls, mandibles, and isolated teeth in the DMNH were assembled into dentitions that, with the skeletons in Cleveland and Pittsburgh, represented thirteen individuals. Age at death for these individuals was assigned ...

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6. Phytolith and Starch Analysis of Dent Site Mammoth Teeth Calculus: New Evidence for Late Pleistocene Mammoth Diets and Environments

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pp. 185-192

Mammoth (Mammuthus columbi) teeth excavated from the Dent site (5WL269) in 1932 and 1933 by the Denver Museum of Natural History (DMNH) (now the Denver Museum of Nature and Science) were examined for phytoliths (Table 6.1). All teeth had been “stabilized” with varnish, which was removed prior to recovering calculus for examination of their phytolith records. One lower mammoth mandible (DMNH 1636) with two intact teeth ...

Part 3: New Research in the Colorado Rocky Mountains

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7. Building a Picture of the Landscape Using Close-Interval Pollen Sampling and Archaeoclimatic Modeling: An Example from the KibRidge-Yampa Paleoindian Site, Northwestern Colorado

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pp. 195-217

Understanding the past environment is made more difficult because no modern analogs exist for many of the previous vegetation communities or environmental systems. Vegetation communities when Paleoindians lived on the North American continent were governed by climatic conditions and an earth-sun relationship that do not exist on earth today. Therefore, rather than simply examining pollen records ...

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8. Folsom Hearth-Centered Use of Space at Barger Gulch, Locality B

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pp. 219-259

This chapter concerns organization and use of hearth space at a Folsom residential site in the mountains (Middle Park) of north-central Colorado. Based on ethnoarchaeological and ethnographic observations of hunter-gatherer camps, it has been well established that hearths frequently served as focal activity loci (Binford 1978, 1983; O’Connell, Hawkes, and Blurton Jones 1991; Walters 1988; Yellen 1977). Fires not only aided in the performance ...

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9. Paleoindian Cultural Landscapes and Archaeology of North-Central Colorado's Southern Rockies

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pp. 261-310

This chapter summarizes the current status of Paleoindian archaeology in northcentral Colorado’s southern Rocky Mountains. A significant increase in archaeological activity in the past two decades has resulted in major advances of our understanding of that region’s earliest inhabitants. Increasingly clear patterns of Colorado mountain colonization, seasonal transhumant migratory ...

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10. Angostura, Jimmy Allen, Foothills-Mountain: Clarifying Terminology for Late Paleoindian Southern Rocky Mountain Spear Points

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pp. 311-337

In 2003, I published a book on my research into late Paleoindian use of the southern Rocky Mountains. The research was based on detailed, hands-on analyses of 589 late Paleoindian spear points from 414 sites all over Colorado and Utah. The study area included the focal region of the southern Rockies that constitutes a substantial portion ...

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Afterword: A Wyoming Archaeologist's Past and Present View of Wyoming and Colorado Paleoindian Archaeology

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pp. 339-355

Within the lower forty-eight states, Wyoming claims the questionable distinction of being the leading contender as the last frontier in North American archaeology. If it were not for the proven association of extinct animals and humans at the Folsom and Blackwater Draw sites in the late 1920s, which, over a decade later, drew attention to several Paleoindian ...


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pp. 357-364

E-ISBN-13: 9780870819766
E-ISBN-10: 0870819763
Print-ISBN-13: 9780870818905
Print-ISBN-10: 0870818902

Page Count: 432
Illustrations: 18 b/w photos, 39 line drawings, 19 maps, 29 tbls
Publication Year: 2007

OCLC Number: 475628061
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Frontiers in Colorado Paleoindian Archaeology

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Subject Headings

  • Paleo-Indians -- Colorado.
  • Paleoanthropology -- Colorado.
  • Land settlement patterns, Prehistoric -- Colorado.
  • Colorado -- Antiquities.
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