Archaeology Magazine

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

Special Introductory Offer!

Bison Bones Found at Archaic Site in the Southwest

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

arizona bison bone bed TUCSON, ARIZONA—Jesse Ballenger of the University of Arizona and archaeologist Jonathan Mabry decided to reinvestigate Cave Creek Midden in southeastern Arizona, where an excavation in 1936 uncovered evidence of corn farming dating to between 4000 and 500 B.C. “[This site] is a huge deal, because it defined about 40 years of how people conceptualized that vague moment in prehistory,” Ballenger told Western Digs. They found a deep layer of dark soil from a spring-fed wetland, or cienega, that contained cobbles, poorly preserved bison bones, and stone artifacts. They did not find, however, the butchering and cooking tools that are usually found at bison kill sites. “And any butchery marks that may be present on the bones are obscured due to the poor preservation of the bone surface,” said Meredith Wismer of the University of Iowa. “This may have been an area on the landscape that bison frequented, and it is possible that at some times in the site’s history they were hunted and used by people, but at other times bison may have gotten trapped in the cienega, died of natural causes, and were not used by people,” she explained. To read more, go to "Letter from Montana: The Buffalo Chasers."

Advertisement

Advertisement


Advertisement