Thursday, May 18, 2017

Archaeologists uncovering ancient peoples’ widespread use of mountains

A small group of archaeologists are blazing a path into places like Wyoming’s Wind River Range, the Tetons and Montana’s Beartooth Plateau, rewriting the understanding of prehistoric people’s use of what are now high elevation wilderness areas. “We really need to be thinking about the Rocky Mountains in a way that we haven’t been thinking about them,” said Bonnie Pitblado, an anthropological archaeology professor at the University of Oklahoma. “By Clovis time (about 13,500 years ago), we have clear, clear evidence people are in the New World and they are in the Rocky Mountains and know them intimately,” she added. Pitblado was one of 11 researchers gathered at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West earlier this month to speak at a conference of scientists who share an interest in high altitude archaeology. Their work is shedding light on what had long been a dark spot for investigation of prehistoric sites in North America. What they are documenting — from stone tools and arrow points to soapstone bowls and woven cordage and basketry, to large campsites, animal traps and even bison jumps — are forcing academics to rethink long-held theories — namely that the high country was too inhospitable to be inhabited. “You need to change the way you think,” said Todd Guenther, professor of history and archaeology at Central Wyoming College in Riverton, Wyoming. Guenther’s study of a bison jump found at an elevation of about 10,500 feet, which he said has received “a lot of push back,” is not inconceivable given other cultures’ activities at high elevations. Pitblado noted that a DNA analysis performed on the remains of what’s known as the Anzick child, found in Montana’s Shields Valley in 1968, ties early Americans and their ancestors to residents of eastern Russia and Mongolia who also lived at high elevations. “They were happy in the mountains,” she said. Based on the genetic findings, Pitblado said, “We have all of the evidence in the world … that those progenitors of Clovis were mountain people.”...more

 Oh no, they weren't just a visitor and they placed developments all over the wilderness.

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