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PART I 3 The Lange/Ferguson site (39SH33) represents one of the few North American archaeological sites that provide evidence of a Clovis-period mammoth butchering event. The remains of two butchered mammoths, either intentionally killed or opportunistically scavenged by Clovis hunters, were preserved in sediments of a Late Pleistocene/Early Holocene fen at the site. While several decades have passed since Lange/ Ferguson was excavated, it remains the earliest dated archaeological site in South Dakota and one of few that have been subjected to a detailed, multidisciplinary investigation . In addition to the preserved mammoth remains, the site yielded diagnostic Clovis projectile weaponry and flaked mammoth bone tools, providing unequivocal evidence of humans interacting with this now-extinct species of megafauna. The site first came to my attention in 1980, when I and a local resident, Mr. Les Ferguson, inspected a butte in the White River Badlands from which Ferguson had recovered a mammoth femur in 1960. Examination of the south face of the butte revealed an exposed segment of adult mammoth pelvic material (acetabular fossa) (fig. 1). On the north face of the butte, a diaphyseal segment of a mammoth long bone, later identified as the tibia of a juvenile mammoth, was observed eroding on the surface. The latter specimen exhibited spiral fracturing and a negative flake scar created by the removal of a long channel flake, thus suggesting the possibility of cultural modification . The butte sediment encasing the mammoth bone was of a very fine-grained texture and contained extensive quantities of mollusk shell, implying a ponded environment . This bone-bearing matrix, designated Stratum B, was immediately overlain by Stratum C, a narrow lens of sediment 12 cm thick with five bands of diatomaceous silt also deposited in a pond-like setting. Overlying Stratum C was Stratum D, a dark, organic-rich paleosol 1 m thick. The author felt that this locale merited additional investigation and sought further evaluation from a multidisciplinary team consisting of soil scientists, geologists, plant ecologists, and archaeologists. The team concurred with my thesis that Strata B and C, which included the mammoth bonebed, had formed from an ancient pond or fen (water in a low-velocity state), suggesting the possibility of in situ, undisturbed materials. A sample of the dark, organic-rich sediment making up Stratum D was collected and submitted for radiocarbon assay. The sample yielded a date of 10,670±300 radiocarbon years before present (14 C yr BP) (Teledyne Isotopes Number I-11,710). This result established a minimal date for the burial of the mammoth bone, which fell securely within the accepted dates for human presence in North America. On the basis of the bone specimen with possible cultural modification, the preliminary environmental evaluations, and the radiocarbon date, the decision was made to undertake exploratory archaeological excavations. Figure 1. Acetabular fossa (adult mammoth) exposed on south face of butte, Locality A, August 1980. The Site Locale and Archaeological Investigations chapter one L. Adrien Hannus 4 Chapter One Site Setting and Field Investigations Lange/Ferguson is located in Oglala Lakota County (formerly Shannon County), South Dakota, within the White River Badlands (fig. 2). The term “badlands” generally signifies country that is difficult to travel through because of rugged terrain and lack of potable water. The name is a translation of les mauvais terres pour traverse (“bad lands to travel through”), used by early French Canadian trappers who, in turn, appropriated it from the Lakota term mako sica (mako, “land”; sica, “bad”). Today, “badlands” refers to the rugged, eroded terrain of remnant surfaces dissected by numerous gullies and arroyos. This badlands terrain is certainly reflected at the Lange/Ferguson locality (figs. 3 and 4). Dramatic elevational changes are commonplace, and variations in excess of 40 ft (12.6 m) were mapped within the site boundaries . The archaeological deposits at Lange/Ferguson are situated between intermittent drainages in the Lange Creek basin, which transports runoff farther north into the White River (see fig. 4). During the initial examination of the site area, it quickly became apparent that the rugged topography and isolated setting would complicate efforts to accurately map any additional deposits identified there. Therefore, the services of a civil surveying firm were retained prior to undertaking any additional field investigations at the site. In September 1980, a detailed on-the-ground survey and low-altitude aerial reconnaissance of the site locality and adjoining drainage system were completed. The result of the survey was a comprehensive and highly accurate topographic map of...


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