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ARCHAIC WAY STATIONS: A PRELUDE OF THINGS TO COME?

By Scott T. McKern and Lynn L. Harrell

Scott T. McKern, Current Archaeological Research, 3200 Fir Drive, Rock Springs, Wyoming, 82901

Lynn L. Harrell, Bureau of Land Management, Kemmerer Field Office, 312 Highway 189N, Kemmerer, Wyoming, 83101

 


ABSTRACT

Between the summers of 2000 and 2002, three sites containing the floors of housepits and surface structures were excavated in the upper Green River Basin. The three sites were located within a kilometer of each other on the floodplain of a prominent ephemeral drainage called Sand Draw. A total of 10 housepits and three surface structures were excavated at the McKeva Ryka Site (48SU2094), Jonah’s House Site (48SU2324) and J. David Love Site (48SU4479). All of the structures included interior features and postmolds that defined their boundaries.  Radiocarbon dates indicate that these structures were occupied from 8210 years B.P. through 4590 years B.P., with a minimum of 11 occupations. The paucity of the material culture suggests that these structures do not represent a village but rather, Archaic period way stations located along a trail that connected the central Wind River mountain range with the Wyoming Range, which border the east and west sides of the Green River Basin. The evidence from these sites suggests that only the Great Divide phase of the Early Archaic Period is reflected in the Upper Green River Basin.

Between 2000 and 2002, Current Archaeological Research excavated three housepit sites located in the upper Green River Basin in southwest Wyoming (Figure 1). All three sites were discovered during construction of well pads during development of the Jonah Natural Gas Field in the Bureau of Land Management’s Pinedale Field Office area.  The J. David Love Site (48SU4479) produced six housepit structures and three surface structures, while the McKeva Ryka Site (48SU2094) and Jonah’s House Site (48SU2324) each produced two housepit structures. The three sites are located within a kilometer of each other on the south side of Sand Draw, at an elevation of 7128 ft (2173 m) (Figure 2). The structures from all three sites were dated to the Early Archaic period. Table 1 presents the radiometric dates from the three sites with reference to the 11 occupations defined at the J. David Love Site. 

All three sites are located on the side of Sand Draw, a predominant ephemeral drainage in the area.  The McKeva Ryka and Jonah’s House sites are located southwest of the J. D. Love Site, at 250 m and 750 m, respectively.  The McKeva Ryka and Jonah’s House sites each produced two housepit structures occupied between 7070 years B.P. and 6210 years B.P., while the J. David Love Site contained nine structures with occupations dating from 8210 years B.P. to 4590 years B.P. The only architectural difference between the structures at the McKeva Ryka and Jonah’s House sites and the structures at the J. D. Love Site is their lack of secondary interior features.  The floors of all the structures at all three sites were unprepared. The average size of the houses at the J. D. Love Site was about 2.93 m long by 2.25 m wide, with a maximum average depth of 23.7 cm in the housepits. The average sizes of the housepits at the other two sites were 3.55 m long by 3.02 m wide, with a maximum average depth of 26.5 cm. Table 2 summarizes the attributes of the structures recovered from all three sites.

J. DAVID LOVE SITE (48SU4479)

The J. David Love Site produced evidence of nine structures including six housepits and three surface structures (McKern and Current 2004). The radiometric dates from the structures indicate that at least 11 occupations occurred at the site. Structure F exhibited the longest period of occupation, between 4590 years B.P. to 7050 years B.P. or 2460 years, while Structure A had the shortest period of occupation, between 6460 years B.P. and 7110 years B.P. or 650 years. Structure D, the burial structure, produced only one date of 7290 years B.P., making it one of the oldest structures.

The architectural style of the housepits is consistent throughout all of the occupations, as is the style of the surface structures except for their lack of basined floors. The shapes vary slightly from round to oval with evidence of numerous exterior support posts surrounding interior basined flat floors, suggesting a conical type of superstructure. Numerous interior unlined basin features were excavated into the floors of both types of structures.

A structural trait unique to the J. D. Love site was the presence of two separate floors in most of the housepits. The structures originally had interior, basined, primary features excavated into their floors. These primary features were large, over 45 centimeters in diameter, and were situated within the basined floors, generally against the walls. After the structures burned during Occupations 6 and 8, the basined floors filled in by natural causes. The houses were then rebuilt and reoccupied as surface structures during Occupations 9, 10 and 11. The secondary features in these newly constructed surface structures were smaller, generally about 30 centimeters in diameter, and were situated around the edges of the filled-in basins.  All of the reoccupied surface structure secondary features dated later than 5500 years B.P.

Housepit Structures

Structure A was oval-shaped, oriented north to south, and included seven primary features and three secondary features. Nineteen postmolds surrounded the area of the structure basin with the proposed entrance to the east side. The radiometric dates from the interior features indicate that Structure A was first occupied as early as 7110±60 B.P. (Beta 174167; bulk low carbon; δ 13C = -23.0‰) to as late as 6640±60 B.P. (Beta 174135; bulk low carbon; δ 13C = -22.7‰), with four distinct dated occupations. A radiometric date produced from the housepit floor suggests that the structure burned during Occupation 6 at 6460±60 B.P. (Beta 174141; bulk low carbon; δ 13C = -23.2‰). Other structures that burned during Occupation 6 include Structures B, C and E, suggesting that a single event such as a wildfire or domestic fire may have destroyed a large portion of the site.

Formal artifacts recovered from Structure A include one utilized flake, one battered cobble, one anvil stone, one small grinding slab fragment, one deer antler tine fragment and several small pieces of red ochre. One intriguing artifact that was recovered from Structure A is a large secondary flake of fine-grained gray quartzite exhibiting a single line of red ochre intentionally drawn on the ventral surface.

Structure B was a circular-shaped housepit with six primary features and four secondary features (Figures 3 and 4). Twenty-two postmolds surrounded the structure floor with the proposed entrance to the northeast. The distribution of the features noted in the figures is typical of the structures investigated at Sites 48SU4479, 48SU2094 and 48SU2324. Although the number of features may vary the general floor plan remained the same. The radiometric dates from the interior features indicate that Structure B was occupied from as early as 7020±60 B.P. (Beta 174152; bulk low carbon; δ 13C = -22.7‰) to as late as 5330±50 B.P. (Beta 174144; bulk low carbon; δ 13C = -22.9‰), with four distinct dated occupations. The radiocarbon date produced from the floor suggests that the structure burned during Occupation 6 at 6430±60 B.P. (Beta 174149; bulk low carbon; δ 13C = -23.1‰).

Figure 1. Map of southwest Wyoming showing the location of the project area.

Figure 2.     USGS topographic map showing the location of Sites 48SU4479, 48SU2094 and 48SU2324 on the south side of Sand Draw in the upper Green River Basin.

Table 1: Comparative study of the radiometric dates produced at three housepit sites on Sand Draw within the Jonah Gas Field of southwest Wyoming.

 48SU4479 HOUSEPITS (ST. = structure number) 48SU4479 SURFACE STRUCTURES 48SU2094

STRUCTURES

48SU2324

STRUCTURES

Oc.

ST.  A

ST. B

ST. C ST. D ST. F ST. G ST. E

ST. H

ST. J

ST. A

ST. B ST. A ST. B
GREAT DIVIDE PHASE – EARLY ARCHAIC PERIOD

1

        

8210±50

PH J-24C

    

2

   

7290±50

Fea. #D1

 

7300±60

Fea. #G2

       

3

7110±60

Fea. #A7

7020±60

Fea. #B1

6920±60

Fea. #C4

 

7050±60

Fea. #F3

 

7090±60

Fea. #E10

    

7070±80

Fea. #A2

 
 

6940±60

Fea. #A6

   

7010±60

Fea. #F4

      

7030±60

Fea. #A3

6920±80

Fea. #B2

4

6830±60

Fea. #A3

   

6850±60

Fea. #F1

    

6880±80

Fea. #31

   
          

6790±90

Fea. #33

  

6710±80

Fea. #B3

5

6640±60

Fea. #A4

6660±60

Fea. #B4

       

6620±60

PH. #14

6680±80

Fea. #22

6660±70

Fill

6690±80

Fill

             

6660±60

Fea. #A4

             

6590±80

Fea.  #B1

OPAL PHASE – EARLY ARCHAIC PERIOD
       

6510±60

Fea.#E9

      

6

6460±60

Fill

6430±60

Fill

6340±60

Fill

 

6350±80

Fill

6390±60

Fea. #G1

       
  

6280±60

Fea. #B3

6380±50

Fea. #C1

      

6290±80

Fea. #32

   
           

6210±80

Fea. #21

  

Table: 1 (concluded)

 48SU4479 HOUSEPITS (ST. = structure number) 48SU4479 SURFACE STRUCTURES

48SU2094

STRUCTURES

48SU2094

STRUCTURES

Oc.

ST.  A

ST. B

ST. C ST. D ST. F ST. G ST. E ST. H ST. J

ST. A

ST. B ST.A ST. B

7

      

5990±60

Fea. #E13

5930±60

PH H-21A

     

   8

     

5660±70

Fill

  

5610±70

Fea. #J23

    

   9

 

5330±50

Fea. #B9

5360±60

PH C-28L

  

5450±70

Fea. #G4

 

5380±60

Fea. #H18

5370±60

Fea. #J22

    
   

5320±60

Fea. #C8

          

  10

       

5040±60

Fea. #H16

     

  11

    

4590±60

Fea. #F8

        

KEY:

8210 = italicized and underlined – radiocarbon dates generated from postmold samples (PH J-24C = Postmold from Structure J. All of the postmolds from Structure J were designated as Feature 24 and each separate postmold received a letter designation).

7290 = just plain numbers – radiocarbon dates generated from basined features from the interior floor space of the structures.

6640 = bold numbers – radiocarbon dates generated from the general fill from within the structure basin, suggesting the destruction of the structures.

5330 = plain numbers underlined – radiocarbon dates generated from the small basined features located along the upper outer edges of the structure basin.

Oc. = this column indicates the minimal number of occupations using the radiocarbon dates taken to the second sigma.

Table 2:    Summary of the architectural attributes of the structures associated with Sites 48SU4479, 48SU2094 and 48SU2324.

FEATURE #

LENGTH (CMs)

WIDTH (CMs)

DEPTH (CMs)

VOLUMN (LITERS)

PRIMARY INTERIOR FEATURES

SECONDARY INTERIOR FEATURES

POST-HOLES

HOUSEPIT STRUCTURES – 48SU4479

Structure A365 N-S282 E-W   231242.88        7         3     19
Structure B301 E-W296 N-S   20  938.61        6         4     22
Structure C364 E-W357 N-S   241627.34        5         5     13
Structure F 319 N-S234 E-W   281097.30        4         4     15
Structure G234 NE-SW174 NW-SE   22  470.27        3         2     10   
Structure D 195 E-W181 N-S   25  463.25        2         0       6
AVERAGE293.33225.00 23.66 966.96        -         -       -

SURFACE STRUCTURES – 48SU4479

Structure E       345 N-S204 E-W     0       0.0        6         0       2
Structure H289 NW-SE209 NE-SW     0       0.0        5         0       6
Structure  J265 NW-SE230 NE-SW     0       0.0        5         0       5
AVERAGE299.66214.33   N/A     N/A        -         -       -

HOUSEPIT STRUCTURES – 48SU2094

Structure A347 NE-SW265 NW-SE   251206.91        5         0     16
Structure B357 NW-SE300 NE-SW   321799.28        6         0       6
AVERAGE 352.0282.5  28.51503.09        -         -       -

HOUSEPIT STRUCTURES – 48SU2324

Structure A379 N-S347 E-W   292002.29        5         0      4
Structure B337 NE-SW295 NW-SE   201043.86        4         0      6
AVERAGE358.0321.0  24.51523.07        -          -      -

Key:    “Primary Interior Features” were excavated into the floors of the structures.
“Secondary Interior Features” were excavated into the walls of the structures.
“Postmolds” were well defined, small, circular charcoal stained anomalies around the structure basins.

Formal artifacts recovered from Structure B include two biface blanks, two bifacially modified tabular pieces of petrified palm wood and several small pieces of red ochre. Red ochre, an anhydrous iron-oxide, can be used as a pigment, as a preservative of wood, bone or skin or as an abrasive for polishing ivory or bone. The significance of the presence of red ochre in Structures A and B could not be determined.

Structure C was a moderate sized circular structure with five unlined basin primary features and five smaller unlined basin secondary features. Thirteen postmolds surrounded the structure basin with the proposed entrance on the southeast side. The radiometric dates from the interior features indicate that Structure C was occupied from 6920±60 B.P. (Beta174148; bulk low carbon; δ 13C = -23.0‰) to as late as 5320±50 B.P. (Beta 174142; bulk low carbon; δ 13C = -22.9‰), with three distinct dated occupations. A radiocarbon date from the floor suggests that the structure burned during Occupation 6 at 6340±60 B.P. (Beta 174157; bulk low carbon; δ 13C = -23.2‰) and the radiocarbon date from Postmold C-28L suggests that at least part of the structure burned during Occupation 9 at 5360±60 B.P. (Beta 174155; bulk low carbon; δ 13C = -23.2‰).

Formal artifacts recovered from Structure C include three utilized flakes, one shaped mano, four small grinding slab fragments and one quartzite cobble chopping tool. The shaped mano appears to have been used as a support for Postmold C-28G located at the southwest corner of the structure. The groundstone implement was recovered from inside the southeast edge of the postmold.

Structure F was oval and included four primary features and four smaller secondary features. Fifteen postmolds surrounded the structure basin with the proposed entrance to the east side. The radiometric dates from the interior features indicate that Structure F was occupied from as early as 7050±60 B.P. (Beta 174158; bulk low carbon; δ 13C = -23.4‰) to as late as 4590 B.P. (Beta 174 145; bulk low carbon; δ 13C = -22.8‰), the latest occupation associated with the nine structures. Four distinct dated occupations were identified in Structure F. A radiocarbon date produced from the housepit floor suggests that the structure burned during Occupation 6 at 6350±60 B.P. (Beta 174154; bulk low carbon; δ 13C = -23.1‰). Formal artifacts from Structure F include two utilized flakes, one mano and one small grinding slab fragment.

Structure G was a small oval housepit oriented north to south, with three primary features and two secondary features. Ten postmolds surrounded the structure basin with the proposed entrance to the northeast side. The radiometric dates from the interior features indicate that Structure G was occupied from as early as 7300±60 B.P. (Beta 174164; bulk low carbon; δ 13C = -23.0‰) to as late as 5450±50 B.P. (Beta 174159; bulk low carbon; δ 13C = -22.4‰), with three distinct dated occupations. A radiocarbon date produced from the housepit floor suggests that the structure burned during Occupation 8 at 5660±60 B.P. (Beta 174161; bulk low carbon; δ 13C = -22.8‰). Formal artifacts from Structure G include one utilized flake and three small grinding slab fragments.

Structure D, the northernmost structure, was small and circular with two unlined basin primary features (Figure 5 and 6), and no secondary features. Feature 2 appeared to represent an interior post and was situated just north of Feature 1. Feature 1 contained human skeletal remains that may represent a secondary burial of a single individual.  Six postmolds were situated along the northern edge and at the southeast corner of the structure basin.  An entrance could not be determined. One radiometric date of 7290±50

Figure 3. Horizontal plan view of Structure B at 48SU4479 looking north.

Figure 4.   Horizontal plan view of Structure B at 48SU4479 showing the distribution of the interior features and artifacts.

Figure 5. Horizontal plan view of Structure D, the burial structure at 48SU4479.

Figure 6.   Horizontal plan view of Structure D at 48SU4479. Human skeletal remains were recovered from the interior of Feature 1.

B.P. (Beta 169796; bulk low carbon; δ 13C = -23.1‰) was produced from the matrix that surrounded the human skeletal remains in Feature 1, dating the burial to Occupation 2.  There was no evidence that Structure D was occupied more than once. Occupation 2 is shared only with the occupation associated with Feature 2 in Structure G, with dates that suggest that the two occupations could be contemporaneous.

Feature 1 included five pieces of lithic debitage, a few small fragments of fire-cracked quartzite cobbles and numerous pieces of human skeletal material. The light fraction analysis from the flotation of the feature fill produced fragments of Processed Edible Tissue identified as an Opuntia species, suggesting that cactus may have been part of the burial ceremony as a funerary offering.

The human skeletal remains include the sacrum articulated with the right innominate, one lumbar vertebra, four rib fragments, seven teeth from the front of the maxilla and mandible, two metatarsals, three phalanges and numerous unidentifiable miscellaneous fragments. The human skeletal remains represent a very old woman with a severe arthritic condition. The paucity and distribution of the human remains within Feature 1 suggests that the burial was secondary. The construction style and the arrangement of the interior features suggest that Structure D was built specifically for housing the burial and probably the individual prior to interment.

Surface Structures

Structure E was a large circular-shaped structure with six unlined basin features (Figure 7). Two postmolds were identified, one at the north edge and one at the south edge. The radiometric dates from the interior features indicate that Structure E was occupied from as early as 7090±60 B.P. (Beta 174138; bulk low carbon; δ 13C = -22.6‰) to as late as 5990±50 B.P. (Beta 174140; bulk low carbon; δ 13C = -22.4‰), with three distinct dated occupations. Formal artifacts from the area of Structure E include a shaped mano.

Processed Edible Tissue fragments from a cactus (Opuntia sp) species were recovered from all of the features except Feature 10. Feature 9 included both Processed Edible Tissue fragments as well as several charred seeds from Opuntia fragilis. The presence of Processed Edible Cactus Tissue and seeds indicated that cactus was being processed or was part of the processing activities associated with all but one of the occupations associated with Structure E. The presence of seeds suggests that the occupation associated with Feature 9 was a late summer/fall occupation.

Structure H was oval-shaped with five unlined basin features and six postmolds sporadically surrounding the interior features. The radiometric dates from the interior features indicate that Structure H was occupied from as early as 5930±60 B.P. (Beta

Figure 7. Horizontal plan view of surface Structure E at 48SU4479, showing the distribution of the interior features. Notice the similarity between the interior features from this surface structure and the interior features from Housepit Structure B (see Figure 3).

174163; bulk low carbon; δ 13C = -23.0‰) to as late as 5040±60 B.P. (Beta 174143; bulk low carbon; δ 13C = -23.0‰), with three distinct dated occupations. A radiocarbon date from Postmold H-21A indicates that at least part of the structure burned during Occupation 7 at 5930±60 B.P. (Beta 174163; bulk low carbon; δ 13C = -23.0‰) Formal artifacts recovered from Structure H include one utilized flake and three small grinding slab fragments.

Structure J was oval-shaped with five unlined basin interior features. Five postmolds surrounded the interior features, with the entrance on the east side. The radiometric dates from the interior features indicate that Structure J was occupied from as early as 8210±50 B.P. (Beta 174160; bulk low carbon; δ 13C = -24.0‰) to as late as 5370±60 B.P. (Beta 174136; bulk low carbon; δ 13C = -22.3‰), with three distinct dated occupations. The radiometric date from Postmold #J-24C at 8210±50 B.P. (Beta 174160; bulk low carbon; δ 13C = -24.0‰) indicates that Structure J was at least partially burned during Occupation 1, the earliest occupation recorded at the site. No cultural material was recovered from the area of Structure J.

MCKEVA RYKA SITE (48SU2094)

Structure A at the McKeva Ryka Site was an oval, oriented northeast to southwest, with five unlined basin features (McKern and Current 2001). Sixteen postmolds surrounded the structure basin with the proposed entrance to the east side. The radiometric dates from the interior features indicate that Structure A was occupied from as early as 6880±80 B.P. (Beta 152049; bulk low carbon; δ 13C = -22.9‰) to as late as 6290±80 B.P. (Beta 152050; bulk low carbon; δ 13C = -22.4‰), with three distinct dated occupations. A radiocarbon sample from Postmold #14 indicates that the structure burned during Occupation 5 at 6620±60 B.P. (Beta 102033; bulk low carbon; δ 13C = -21.3‰).  Other structures that appear to have burned during Occupation 5 are Structures A and B at the Jonah’s House Site, suggesting a single event such as a wildfire or domestic fire that may have destroyed areas of both sites. Formal artifacts recovered from Structure A include one chopper/chopping tool, two cores and two shaped manos. The manos were recovered from the inside of Postmold #10, against the north wall, apparently used to support the post.

Structure B at the McKeva Ryka Site was an oval, oriented northwest to southeast, with six unlined basin features. Six well defined postmolds plus another six light gray circular stains surrounded the area of the structure basin, with the proposed entrance to the east side. The radiometric dates from the interior features indicate that Structure B was occupied from as early as 6680±80 B.P. (Beta 152052; bulk low carbon; δ 13C = -22.9‰) to as late as 6210±80 B.P. (Beta 152051; bulk low carbon; δ 13C = -22.7‰), with two distinct dated occupations. Formal artifacts recovered from Structure B include four expedient tools.

JONAH’S HOUSE SITE (48SU2324)

Structure A at Jonah’s House Site was a large circular structure with five unlined basin features (McKern and Current 2002). Four postmolds were identified along the northern edge of the structure basin. The entrance may have been on the east side, based on a gentler wall slope in that area. The radiometric dates from the interior features indicate that Structure A was occupied at least twice during Occupation 3, with dates of 7070±80 B.P. (Beta 150673; bulk low carbon; δ 13C = -23.0‰) from Feature 2 and 7030±80 B.P. (Beta 150672; bulk low carbon; δ 13C = -22.8‰) from Feature 3. A radiocarbon sample from the floor indicates that the structure burned during Occupation 5 at 6660±70 B.P. (Beta 107966; bulk low carbon; δ 13C = -21.3‰). This date and dates from Feature 4 at Structure B and Feature 4 at Structure B from the J. D. Love Site are all from 6660 years B.P., and may represent a contemporaneous occupation. Formal artifacts recovered from Structure A include seven expedient tools representing the various types of tool stone shared by all three sites.

Structure B at Jonah’s House Site was a squarish structure with four unlined basin features and six postmolds along the eastern edge of the structure basin. The entrance may have been on the east side, based on a gentler wall slope in that area. The radiometric dates from the interior features indicate that Structure B was occupied from as early as 6920±80 B.P. (Beta 157324; bulk low carbon; δ 13C = -22.4‰) to as late as 6590±80 B.P. (Beta 157323; bulk low carbon; δ 13C = -22.9‰). A radiocarbon sample from the floor indicates that the structure burned during Occupation 5, at 6690±80 B.P. (Beta 157327; bulk low carbon; δ 13C = -22.8‰). No formal artifacts were recovered from Structure B.

CONCLUSIONS

The evidence from these sites afford several conclusions relevant to interpretations of subsistence, seasonality, chronology, architectural styles and functions of the houses.  The paucity of subsistence evidence from all three sites suggests that previously processed food resources were brought to the sites, or were stored at the sites. Small animals may have been gathered locally and added to prepared meals, although there was no evidence that food resources were being collected for processing, for storage, or for transportation to other camps. The dearth of subsistence evidence is mutual to all of the occupations at all three sites and included only a few small fragments of burned bones from small mammals.

Evidence of utilized floral resources consists only of several charred seeds and Processed Edible Tissue fragments from a cactus (Opuntia sp) species. These tissue fragments were recovered throughout the chronological sequences at all sites.  Evidently, cactus was either used as food or was a part of the resource processing activities that occurred at the sites.  Several unidentified charred seeds and berries were recovered from a few of the interior features in four structures at the J.D. Love Site. These specimens were determined intrusive and do not represent the processing of economic plant species. But the fact that charred seeds were found in dated features suggests that Occupations 3, 6 and 7 represent late summer/early fall occupations.

The radiocarbon dates from the structures indicate that housepit construction began around 8200 years ago and that the structures were then used and maintained until 4600 years ago, with occupations that span 3600 years. In People of the Sage, Thompson and Pastor (1995) interpret the various cultural chronologies that had been proposed for the Green River Basin. The Early Archaic period was divided into two phases: the Great Divide Phase from 8500 and 6500 BP, and the Opal Phase from 6500 and 4300 BP. The dates, the architectural style of the housepits, the artifact assemblages and the scant subsistence evidence from these three sites indicate no difference between the Great Divide Phase and the Opal Phase of the Early Archaic Period.  The evidence from these sites simply does not support two distinct phases in the Early Archaic period and suggests that only the Great Divide phase is reflected in the Upper Green River Basin.

The investigations at the J. David Love Site demonstrate that housepits and surface structures were occupied contemporaneously. The only architectural difference is that the floors of the six housepits were intentionally excavated, while those of the three surface structures were not. All three sites had similar numbers, distributions, sizes and shapes of the interior features in all of their structures.  Evidence from the features indicates that they were used only once during the associated occupations.

The pattern of the postmolds around the houses at all three sites indicate that superstructures used posts anchored around the outsides of the floors.  These posts would have supported some other type of roofing material, forming very secure and comfortable habitation units.  The radiocarbon dates indicate that the housepits were maintained as structures for at least 300 years at Jonah’s House Site, and as long as 2400 years at the J. D. Love Site.

The paucity of the associated cultural material from all three sites indicates that they were only occupied for short periods of time. Even if the occupants of the site periodically cleaned out the structures and kept the surface areas around them clear of every day refuse, one would still expect to find greater amounts of the very small debris. Fourteen different types of tool stone were identified from a combined lithic assemblage composed of only 762 pieces of debitage, recovered from a total of 500 square meters excavated at the three sites. Fourteen structures were excavated, and the entire excavated matrix was sifted through eighth inch mesh screen. Considering that these methods recovered such small amounts of cultural materials from substantial excavations, it is apparent that people did not spend very much time at these sites during each occupation.

The three sites appear to have been used as short term way stations during the Early Archaic period. The sites could have been centrally located to several resource processing areas and used only when major storms forced people to find shelter where no natural refuge exists. The site locations appear to be well suited for late summer/early fall occupation, when small groups may have congregated for short periods to organize the autumn resource gathering activities.

Another theory is that the site complex could represent a permanent campground along a major prehistoric trail.  This trail would have connected the Wind River Mountains, with access across the Continental Divide to the Great Plains, with the Wyoming Range from which to access the Great Basin and beyond. Could these Early Archaic structures with a subfloor burial practice represent a construction style or cultural adaptation that eventually evolved into the covered structures of the Northwest Plains or the pithouses of the Southwest?   Only time will tell, as we continue to investigate more of these early expressions of a special adaptation to the demanding environments of the Rocky Mountains.

REFERENCES CITED

McKern, S. T. and B. Current
2001      Archaeological Investigation of the McKeva Ryka Site (48SU2094):  A Multi-occupational Waystation on San Draw. Manuscript in preparation. Produced for McMurry Oil Company by Current Archaeological Research, Rock Springs, Wyoming.  On file at the Bureau of Land Management, Pinedale Field Office.

McKern, S. T. and B. Current
2002   Archaeological Investigation of the Jonah’s House Site (48SU2324):  A Multi-occupational Waystation on San Draw. Manuscript in preparation. Produced for McMurry Oil Company by Current Archaeological Research, Rock Springs, Wyoming. On file at the Bureau of Land Management, Pinedale Field Office.

McKern, Scott T. and Bill Current
2004      Archaeological Investigation of the J. David Love Site (48SU4479):  Another Multi-occupational Waystation on San Draw. Manuscript in preparation. Produced for McMurry Oil Company by Current Archaeological Research, Rock Springs, Wyoming, for submittal to the Bureau of Land Management, Pinedale Field Office.

Thompson, K. W. and J. V. Pastor
1995     People of the Sage: 10,000 Years of Occupation in Southwest Wyoming. Cultural Resource Management Report No. 67. Archaeological Services of Western Wyoming College, Rock Springs.