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Reinvestigating Cougar Mountain Cave: New Perspectives on Stratigraphy, Chronology, and a Younger Dryas Occupation in the Northern Great Basin

  • Richard L. Rosencrance (a1), Geoffrey M. Smith (a1), Dennis L. Jenkins (a2), Thomas J. Connolly (a2) and Thomas N. Layton (a3)...

Abstract

Cougar Mountain Cave is located in Oregon's Fort Rock Basin. In 1958, avocationalist John Cowles excavated most of the cave's deposits and recovered abundant fiber, lithic, wood, and osseous artifacts. A crew from the University of California, Davis returned to the site in 1966 to evaluate the potential for further research, collecting additional lithic and fiber artifacts from disturbed deposits and in situ charcoal from apparently undisturbed deposits. Because Cowles took few notes or photographs, the Cougar Mountain Cave collection—most of which is housed at the Favell Museum in Klamath Falls, Oregon—has largely gone unstudied even though it contains diagnostic artifacts spanning the Holocene and, potentially, the terminal Pleistocene. We recently submitted charcoal and basketry from the site for radiocarbon dating, providing the first reliable sense of when Cougar Mountain Cave was first occupied. Our results indicate at least a Younger Dryas age for initial occupation. The directly dated basketry has provided new information about the age ranges and spatial distributions of diagnostic textile types in the northwestern Great Basin.

La Cueva de Cougar Mountain se encuentra en la Cuenca de Fort Rock, en Oregón. En 1958, el arqueólogo vocacional John Cowles excavó la mayor parte de los depósitos de la cueva y recuperó abundantes artefactos de fibra, piedra tallada, madera y hueso. Un equipo de la Universidad de California, Davis, regresó al sitio en 1966 para evaluar su potencial investigativo. Durante esta visita también se recolectaron nuevos artefactos líticos y de fibra de los depósitos perturbados y se tomaron muestras de carbón in situ de depósitos aparentemente intactos. Debido a que Cowles tomó pocas notas o fotografías, la colección de la Cueva de Cougar Mountain, la mayoría de la cual está almacenada en el Museo Favell en Klamath Falls, Oregón, ha quedado sin estudiar, a pesar de que contiene artefactos que abarcan el Holoceno y, potencialmente, el Pleistoceno terminal. Hace poco sometimos muestras de carbón y cestería del sitio a datación por radiocarbono, lo que nos proporcionó una primera estimación confiable de la ocupación inicial en la Cueva de Cougar Mountain. Nuestros resultados indican que la ocupación inicial ocurrió por lo menos en el Dryas Reciente. La cestería, que fue fechada directamente, nos proporciona nueva información sobre los rangos de edad y la distribución espacial de tipos de textiles diagnósticos en el noroeste de la Gran Cuenca.

Copyright

Corresponding author

(rrosencrance@nevada.unr.edu, corresponding author)

References

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