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The Obsidian Aucilla

Stained black by the surrounding swamps, the Aucilla River is an obsidian mirror; it reflects the overhanging forest while hiding a labyrinth of rocks, snags. In places it disappears, running underground – in others, it conceals deep sinkholes formed by collapsed limestone caverns. For decades, river divers have descended into these dark pits in search […]

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Geoarchaeology and Drinking Straw Technology

Sinkholes are unreasonably complex phenomena – those in rivers doubly so. If you can figure out their geological history, you have a better chance of figuring out how artifacts got there. As far as I can tell, this is not a straight forward task. As time goes by, sinks are subject to slumping, flood deposits, […]

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Digging Square Holes Underwater

Digging square holes underwater (in low visibility) can get a little ridiculous – it is, however, achievable. To simplify the process, we used an excavation frame built by Jim Dunbar. The design is ingeniously simple. The frame is a two meter by three meter metal grid that can be raised or lowered on poles. Divers […]

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The Bottom of the Sink

We did not expect to be able to see anything in the river. Typically, the Aucilla is blackwater, stained by tannins leeching in from the swamp. In previous years, divers needed powerful lights to work even just 15 to 20 feet from the surface. This was not a typical year. The climate worked in our […]

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Aucilla River Base Camp

The beautiful old building is made entirely from local tounge and groove magnolia boards. The deck looks right out over the river where the Aucilla comes rushing up from an underground stretch. Right off the back deck there is a convenient dock where we could load and unload the small boat. The cabin was made […]

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Passing Archaeology On

The most important aspect of archaeology is passing knowledge on. If you can pass it on your family, that is great luck. It was wonderful to take my nephews around Forest Canyon Pass, and get them excited about archaeology. It incredible to be in these high places and think of how people moved, hunted, and engaged the […]

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Taking Cores Samples

We took a number of cores from Forest Canyon Pass to help reconstruct the saddle’s paleoenvironment. The small alpine ponds and wetlands have beautiful pollen records. The trick was to find one with deep enough sediments. We finished coring just in time. An afternoon storm came up over the pass, and we had to boogey. […]

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Revisiting Forest Canyon Pass

I went hiking at Forest Canyon pass today. It is one of the most beautiful yet accessible places in Rocky Mountain National Park. The saddle dips between Trail Ridge and the continental divide. A dozen small tributaries join in the bottom of Forest Canyon and run southeast parallel the divide; these are the Big Thompson […]

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