The Place: South Park, ColoradoSouth Park is a 900 square mile intermontane basin located just west of the Front Range and Colorado Springs.
Surrounded by mountains on all sides, South Park was home to the Ute, Apache, Arapaho, Cheyenne and Commanche in historic times, and to ancestral groups for the past 12,000 years. These are the people we wish to know more about through archaeology.
The People: Student Archaeologists
Chelsea Leonard ’07 and Ben Perlmutter ‘06
Danielle Johnson ’08 and Trevor Draeseke ‘07
Jasmine Munk '07
Lora Moore '06 and Erik Wilson '08
Hayley Brown '08
Rebecca Swank '06
The archaeology field school is designed to introduce students to professional field and lab techniques. Students learn these basic techniques, and apply them to a real research problem: understanding the prehistory of this important cultural area. An important added element in the field school is the integration of local volunteers, creating an important public education and outreach component in our research program. For 2006, our goals centered on continuing excavations of the hearth and related structures in the upper units, and of the house floors in the lower units. Hoping to tie these areas together temporally and behaviorally, we looked for charcoal to date the house floors, and cultural evidence to relate the two excavation areas.
Unit 119 house floors uncovered in 2004
Unit 42 charcoal and bedrock 'pavement'
Our excavations in 2006
• added nearly 2000 artifacts to the growing database
• uncovered more evidence for heat treating and early stage stone tool reduction
• added at least three more house floors
• provided strong evidence for separate tool working and living areas; C14 dating should clarify the temporal relationships of these areas.
Units 119-123 house floors: at least 5!
Units 37 and 42: Bedrock and floor above
Unit 42: Remains of burned log
Laboratory AnalysisEvery hour spent in the field yields many hours of laboratory work, and each day ended with students working in the lab on materials and paperwork. Our lab facilities were created with the help of local volunteers, the Town of Fairplay and Park County, Colorado, and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.
The Lab in Fairplay
Exploration of regional natural and cultural areas broadened students’ understanding of the recent and deeper history of south-central Colorado. Trips to the Great Sand Dunes National Park, Florissant fossil beds, High Rock Fen and Trout Creek Quarry were highlights.
Great Dunes National Park
High Creek Fen
A major goal of our project is to engage the public in archaeological research and preservation. In addition to participating in the fieldwork, residents are invited to share in our results, as presented in posters created by the Skidmore students.
Poster Session at the South Park City Museum
We – students, volunteers, research associates – worked long hours, climbed
high hills, made important discoveries, saw beautiful sights and sites, made new friends and participated in an exciting and very productive field season. My sincere thanks to all, for all your energy, high spirits, and good work!Susan Bender, Director