Current topics in archaeology, cultural heritage & historic preservation

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Buffalo Bill's Defunct

Mystery, intrigue, petroglyphs, the Columbia River Gorge...what else could anyone interested in archaeology and fiction ask for?

Just check out the cover...stylized Pacific Northwest rock art galore.

Vancouver, WA author Sheila Simonson has blended local cultures and geography with some great characters in a book that I really enjoyed.

Simonson rearranges counties, towns, and cultures to produce a credible facsimile called "LaTouche County" which seems to include a good chunk of the western Gorge. She creates a pseudo Chinookan tribe called the "Klalo" and names the county seat after them. Tribal members, including the female chief, have key roles in the story.

Stolen artifacts, murder, clashing cultures, interesting characters and familiar places combine for an engaging read. You can learn more about the author and her books at her website. The book is available at Amazon and (for well under $15) and, I assume, at local bookstores.

Might make a great Christmas gift!


Friday, November 6, 2009

America's Oldest Artifact: Another First for Paisley Cave

Dr. Dennis Jenkins and the team working at Paisley Cave in Oregon can now claim to have found the oldest known artifact in the Americas.

The tool is a bone scrapper that has been definitively radiocarbon dated at 14, 230 years, significantly older than previously found Clovis artifacts (12,900-12,400 years BP).

In an article published by Nature News Kevin Smith, who actually found the tool, says, "We had bumped into a lot of extinct horse, bison and camel bone – then I heard and felt the familiar ring and feel when trowel hits bone". Smith now a master's student at California State University, Los Angeles went on to say, "I switched to a brush. Soon this huge bone emerged, then I saw the serrated edge. I stepped back and said: 'Hey everybody — we got something here."

Is this the final nail in the Clovis First coffin... or were these people Clovis themselves?...only time and more research will tell.

To be fair, other sites including Monte Verde, Cactus Hill, Meadowcroft, and Topper might also lay claim to the "oldest artifact" title.

Read more about the Paisley Cave discovery at:
Nature News
Little About

More about other very ancient sites in the Americas:
Monte Verde
Cactus Hill

(photo courtesy of