George C. Frison's research while affiliated with University of Wyoming and other places

Publications (77)

Article
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Significance Red ocher (also known as hematite) is relatively common in Paleoindian sites exceeding ca. 11,000 calibrated years B.P. in the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains of North America. Red ocher fulfilled a wide range of functions within Paleoindian societies, as indicated by its association with graves, caches, campsites, hide-working implem...
Chapter
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The La Prele Mammoth site is a Clovis archaeological site in Converse County, Wyoming (U.S.A.) that preserves chipped stone artifacts in spatial association with the remains of a subadult Columbian mammoth (Mammuthus columbi). The site was discovered in 1986 and initially tested by George Frison in 1987, but work ceased there until 2014 due to a di...
Article
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Archaeologists have long subjected Clovis megafauna kill/scavenge sites to the highest level of scrutiny. In 1987, a Columbian mammoth (Mammuthus columbi) was found in spatial association with a small artifact assemblage in Converse County, Wyoming. However, due to the small tool assemblage, limited nature of the excavations, and questions about th...
Article
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We report major new insights from recent research at the Powars II Paleoindian red ocher quarry (48PL330). We salvaged more than 7,000 artifacts from Powars II between 2014 and 2016 by screening redeposited sediment from the talus slope below the intact portion of the site. Clovis artifacts dominate the diagnostic artifact assemblage, including 53...
Article
The Wyoming Basin contains several smaller depressions one of which is the Great Divide Basin formed by the Continental Divide that splits, resulting in internal drainage area of nearly 11,000 km2. The lowest elevation of the Great Divide Basin is at the Chain Lakes Flat and is the location of numerous playas. In this 140 km2 are four surface conce...
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Middle Park, a high-altitude basin in the Southern Rocky Mountains of north-central Colorado, contains at least 59 known Paleoindian localities. At Barger Gulch Locality B, an extensive Folsom assemblage (˜10,500 14C yr B.P.) occurs within a buried soil. Radiocarbon ages of charcoal and soil organic matter, as well as stratigraphic positions of art...
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Shallowly buried archaeological sites are particularly susceptible to surface and subsurface disturbance processes. Yet, because cultural deposition often operates on short time scales relative to geologic deposition, vertical artifact distributions can be used to clarify questions of site formation. In particular, patterns in artifact distribution...
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This paper reports on 10 years of research at the Black Mountain Archaeological District, located in north central Wyoming's Bighorn Mountain range. It focuses specifically on two rockshelters: 48BH1827 (Two Moon Shelter) and 48BH1065 (BA Cave). Two Moon Shelter bears stratified Paleoindian deposits that include a Folsom projectile point fragment,...
Article
Excavation of the Sheaman Clovis site in eastern Wyoming by University of Wyoming in the late 1970s produced one radiocarbon age of uncertain relationship to the Clovis level and one age on bone of poor reliability. New excavations in 2000 recovered additional material for radiocarbon dating as well as a Clovis elongated flake multiple use tool at...
Article
The Powars II site, 48PL330, located near Sunrise, Wyoming, is a significant Paleoindian site in the Hartville Uplift area of eastern Wyoming. Intensive red ochre mining took place at Powars II, as indicated by Paleoindian materials in direct association with a natural hematite deposit. Projectile points ranging in age from Clovis to Late Paleoindi...
Article
Located in a spring-fed meadow at 2620 masl, Helen Lookingbill is a stratified, high-altitude open site in the Washakie Range of the Absaroka Mountains in NW Wyoming. The site contains cultural material ranging in age from Paleoindian through Late Prehistoric periods. Although the densest cultural deposits date to the Early Archaic (8000-5000 b.p.,...
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Two Amerindian demographic shifts are attributed to climate change in the northwest plains of North America: at approximately 11,000 calendar years before present (yr BP), Amerindian culture apparently split into foothills-mountains vs. plains biomes; and from 8,000-5,000 yr BP, scarce archaeological sites on the open plains suggest emigration duri...
Article
The Eden-Farson site represents a late Prehistoric or early Historic catastrophic event of over 200 pronghorns killed in late October and early November by Shoshonean hunters. No evidence remains of a structure used to trap the animals, but the Bridger Pronghorn Trap (48UT1) in the same general area is proposed as a model. Pronghorn behavior is dis...
Article
The Boar's Tusk site is a Late Prehistoric or Protohistoric short-term probable campsite in southwestern Wyoming. Pronghorn predominates the bone assemblage. Site structure at Boar's Tusk is compared to campsites of Efe and Ju/'hoansiforagers of central and southern Africa. Features at Boar's Tusk were arranged in an oval configuration like the arr...
Article
The Eden-Farson site represents a late Prehistoric or early Historic catastrophic event of over 200 pronghorns killed in late October and early November by Shoshonean hunters. No evidence remains of a structure used to trap the animals, but the Bridger Pronghorn Trap (48UTJ) in the same general area is proposed as a model. Pronghorn behavior is dis...
Article
Middle Park is one of the high intermountain basins of the Rocky Mountains that has been occupied continually for over 11,000 years. Our studies of the Paleoindian occupations suggest that many of the well known Plains complexes, as well as some mountain complexes, are present in Middle Park. This paper concentrates on the sites and collections we...
Article
Middle Park is one of the high intermountain basins of the Rocky Mountains that has been occupied continually for over 11,000 years. Our studies of the Paleo indian occupations suggest that many of the well known Plains complexes, as well as some mountain complexes, are present in Middle Parle This paper concentrates on the sites and collections we...
Article
The Upper Twin Mountain Site, located within a geologic slump scar at 2548 m altitude, provides significant information on Paleoindian bison procurement. As the highest known Paleoindian bison bone bed, the site contained the partial skeletal remains of at least 15 adult Late Pleistocene bison (B. antiquus), Goshen projectile points, and debitage....
Article
From approximately 11,200 to 8,000 years ago, the Great Plains of North America were populated by small Paleoindian hunting groups with well developed weaponry and the expertise to successfully hunt large mammals, especially mammoths and bison. Mammoths became extinct on the Plains by 11,000 years ago, and, although paleoecological conditions were...
Chapter
Throughout the last decade, a main focus of Pleistocene—Holocene New World archaeology has been the peopling of the New World. Much controversy has centered around the problem of pre-Clovis or ancestral Clovis or both (e.g., see Adovasio 1993; Marshall 1990; Morlan 1988). Twocontrasting models have been developed to explain the initial peopling of...
Article
Early Paleoindians mined specular and earthy hematite (henceforth known as Sunrise red ochre) at the Powars II site, Platte County, Wyoming. Sunrise red ochre has a distinctive mineralogy, chemical composition, and bioinclusions in comparison to other sources of red ochre. Artifactual red ochre from the pre-Folsom levels at the Hell Gap site compar...
Article
The pollen, sedimentary, geomorphic, pedogenic, and cultural records in the basin and foothill areas of the Northwestern Plains indicates that climatic conditions during the middle Holocene were warm and dry. However, chronologies are not synchronous and there are great differences in times of climatic transition between areas. The time of shift fr...
Article
Two decades ago, Paleoindian studies reached a plateau with relatively few new sites being discovered Since then, the situation has changed with the discovery of a number of new Paleoindian sites and the reinvestigation of a number of older sites. New methodologies are being applied to old data and the development of the AMS system of radiocarbon d...
Article
Six broken and refitted carved stone pipes or tubes were recovered at the Coal Draw site (48H0469) in the southern Bighorn Basin in north-central Wyoming. In addition there were an unbroken tube and pieces of five others. Several diffirent types of carvable stone are represented, many of which are not found locally. These items m~ or may not be ass...
Chapter
The most recent paleoecological data indicate that the last glacial maximum in North America occurred about 20,000 to 18,000 years ago. At this time, the continental ice sheets covered all of present-day Canada and extended a short distance into the northern tier of the Plains states in the western United States to about 48° north latitude. South o...
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A tool cache was recently recovered from the Middle Plains Archaic stratum of the McKean site in Wyoming. Analysis of this cache, including a microwear study of the utilized edges, yielded data about raw material procurement, manufacture, and the use of storage facilities on the NW High Plains of North America. These data are used to make inference...
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Soils on the west side of Dead Indian Pass (2414 m) in the Absaroka Mountains of NW Wyoming give indication of climatic and vegetational shift. This change is marked by a buried, truncated calcareous soil with abundant grass phytoliths (perhaps a Calcic Cryoboroll) which is unconformably overlain by a forest soil without abundant grass phytoliths (...
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This chapter describes the projectile points and specialized bifaces found at the Horner site. The 1977 and 1978, excavations by the University of Wyoming at the Horner site made it apparent that with the additional data, a more in-depth study should be undertaken, especially as many of the projectile points from the site did not seem to fit into t...
Chapter
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This chapter provides an overview of the records from the 1949 to 1952 excavations at the Horner site. Although the Princeton–Smithsonian excavations at the Horner site were completed over 30 years ago and only brief reports on the site have been prepared and published (Jepsen 1953a,b; Wedel 1961:68–70; Wormington 1957:127–128), the data documented...
Chapter
This chapter presents a summary and remarks regarding the Horner site excavations and studies, in addition to a review of Paleoindian society. As the Horner site located in the Bighorn Basin in northwest Wyoming produced both Eden and Scottsbluff types of Paleoindian projectile points in situ within the same cultural context and was located close t...
Chapter
Prehistoric human animal procurement has become a major area of archaeological interest because current studies in cultural ecology require a better understanding of past human subsistence strategies in hunter-gatherer societies. As with most archaeological research problems, straightforward answers are lacking and are unlikely to emerge from the d...
Chapter
The 50th anniversary meeting of the Society for American Archaeology (SAA) in 1985 was planned as an occasion for the society and its membership to reflect on the past, evaluate the present, and to take a cautious look into the future. From the earliest planning stages, a major concern was that the meeting not be perceived as discouraging internati...
Article
A net made of juniper (Juniperus sp.) bark cordage and designed for capturing animals the size of deer or mountain sheep has been radiocarbon dated to late Paleoindian times. It was recovered in the Absaroka Mountains of north-central Wyoming and provides insight into prehistoric animal procurement strategies that did not require the use of stone a...
Article
A decade of intensive archaeological survey of the Powder River Basin in Wyoming has revealed one stratified Paleoindian site along with several thousand sites of later age. This site is only a remnant of a much larger one. It has four cultural levels that include Clovis, Folsom, Agate Basin-Hell Gap, and Alberta-Cody respectively, with intervening...
Article
Carved steatite vessels are common to the mountCJins and intermontane basins of northwestern Wyoming and immediately adjacent areas of Idaho and Montana. Steatite occurs in Precambrian rock throughout several mountain ranges of Wyoming. Surface material was used and much was quarried from buried deposits. Finished vessels are flatbottomed and occur...
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Discriminant function analysis is an invaluable statistical tool for the taxonomic identification of hybrids between various extant species of Canis in the eastern United States. This technique has recently been applied to the taxonomic identification of canid skulls from several Wyoming archaeological sites. Analysis indicates most canid remains,...
Article
Two tools, one made of elk antler and the other made from a bison metatarsal, were recovered in an in situ Folsom component and are believed to have been used in removal of Channel flakes from Folsom projectile points. This offers the first known archeological evidence that can be used to argue that the process made use of controlled pressure throu...
Article
Extinct subspecies of Bison were taken in mass kills with the aid of natural and artificial traps during Paleoindian times. A succession of chipped stone projectile points diagnostic of different cultural complexes was used. Bone projectile points can now be added to the fluted stone points of Folsom weaponry.
Article
One of the late Paleo-Indian cultural groups in the Bighorn-Pryor Mountains area of southern Montana and northern Wyoming is characterized by a lanceolate projectile point with a distinctive alternate beveling on blade edges. Present evidence indicates a settlement pattern restricted to the mountains and foothills and an intense hunting and gatheri...
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Camelops have been recorded in a number of Paleo-Indian sites that lack evidence of past procurement methods. Recently, two occurrences of Camelops remains have been recorded in Paleo-Indian animal kills in Wyoming. One kill situation was in a Hell Gap cultural context that produced remains of a single Camelops taken along with about 100 bison in a...
Article
Mandan Tradition ceramics in northern Wyoming and adjacent areas of Montana and South Dakota have been attributed to the Crow Indians. A decade of excavation and collection of this pottery suggests it may have first appeared around the beginning of the 16th Century and lasted well into the 18th Century although these dates are tentative. Several re...
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The Hawken site is a steep-sided arroyo into which small groups of bison were driven and slaughtered. The bison, which date about 4500 B.C. during the Altithermal period, are an extinct variant (B bison occidentalis) and are morphologically intermediate between B. bison antiquus and B. bison bison. The projectile points are in the Altithermal perio...
Article
The Northwestern Plains provide evidence of human occupation from Clovis times. The human groups involved were not spectacular and operated at the band level as hunters and gatherers. Changes in climate during the Altithermal Period may have caused some shifts in animal populations as a result of aridity with concomitant shifts in human occupations...
Article
The Big Horn Mountains and immediately adjacent areas of northern Wyoming yield considerable evidence of cultural groups different from but contemporaneous with many late Plano groups. The hypothesis presented here is that this may have been an area where these marginal cultures developed due to a combination of geographical location and diverse en...
Article
By a process of neutron activation, obsidian samples from an archaeological site may be traced to their quarry sources. The potential of this type of information remains largely unexplored and this paper is one small example of its application to Northwestern Plains Archaeology.

Citations

... No. 5922, the base of a basally constricted Agate Basin point, is of particular interest for its resemblance to FiPp-33:7538 (Figure 4, e). Like the point bases found at the Agate Basin site (Frison and Stanford 1982), these points have constricted bases with narrow, rounded basal margins. As can be seen in Figure 4, several other Agate Basin points from the Sibbald Creek site show a strong similarity to the Agate Basin/Hell Gap points from Ahai Mneh. ...
... One such alternative interpretation is that other mastodons could have displaced bones. This can happen either inadvertently, through trampling or kicking, or intentionally, through manipulation (mostly using the trunk) of bones of dead conspecifics, as has been observed in African elephants (Douglas-Hamilton and Douglas-Hamilton, 1975;Frison and Todd, 1986;Haynes, 1988). Such behavior could accomplish displacements of even the largest skeletal elements recovered at the Shelton Mastodon Site, and yet we are aware of no physical attributes of single bones or bone assemblages that would be diagnostic of such events. ...
... At the Wold Bison Jump (48JO966) in Johnson, County, Wyoming, approximately 500-year-old bison horn sheaths and hooves were recovered where these keratinous materials had been preserved in a dry microenvironment under a large colluvial boulder (Pelton et al., 2019). Bison remains are frequently recovered from archaeological sites in Wyoming, and yet it is uncommon to find keratin in these same contexts (Frison, 1978;Grund et al., 2016;Kornfeld et al., 2010;Pelton et al., 2019). Knowing the rate of decay can allow us to estimate, for example, how long the bison remains at the Wold Buffalo Jump and similar sites were exposed to the elements prior to being situated in a more preferential preservation environment. ...
... As discussed by Butzer (1982, 71), the construction of a detailed stratigraphy (chrono-, litho-, and pedostratigraphy) at both the site-specific (i.e., where individual deposits are concerned) and local (i.e., immediate surrounding areas) scales is the first step in establishing stratigraphic context. Identifying buried soils is particularly important, as the presence of surfaces leads to characteristic BSMs and has helped other researchers disentangle cultural and natural formation processes at megafauna kill sites in geomorphic settings similar to the one at the AdV site (e.g., Mackie et al. 2020;Todd and Frison 1986). So far, researchers at the AdV site have only reported basic field descriptions and have not provided the geological data necessary to critically evaluate the stratigraphic context of the site. ...
... The Powars II site, located in the foothills of the southern Rocky Mountains in Wyoming (1,2), is one of five hematite quarries identified in the indigenous archaeological record of the Americas, along with two definitive quarries in Quintana Roo, Mexico (3), San Ramon 15 near the coast of northern Chile (4), and Mina Primavera in the Ingenio Valley of Peru (5) (Fig. 1). Powars II was first proposed as a hematite quarry in 1986, when archaeologists observed Paleoindian artifacts associated with hematiterich sediments in a redeposited context. ...
... The first line of evidence that Wold may be associated with the ancestral Crow is its location. Wold is near many archaeological sites argued to have been occupied by the ancestral Crow (Frison 1967a(Frison , 1976 based largely on ceramic styles and other artifacts argued to be associated with Crow material culture ( Figure 10). Most Crow sites are centered on the Bighorn Mountains, and we suspect that the concentration of recorded Crow sites surrounding the Bighorns, especially near Ten Sleep, Wyoming, is in no small part influenced by the research of George Frison, who spent much of his early career in this region (Frison 1967a). ...
... Similarly, the early dates of 11,840 ± 130, 11,700 ± 95, and 11,450 ± 110 rcbp for the "pre-Folsom" level at Agate Basin in Wyoming (Haynes et al., 1984) cannot yet be tied to early Clovis or to any other culture. It should be noted that dates for unfluted Goshen points in the northern Plains range from about 10,200 rcbp as far back as 11,570 ± 170 rcbp (Frison, 1987(Frison, , 1988(Frison, , 1991(Frison, , 1993(Frison, , 1996, or ca. 13,400 B.P. If Goshen is not actually ancestral to Clovis, these early dates could indicate that a still earlier common ancestral culture, without fluted points, existed somewhere in the Plains before 13,400 B.P. ...
... Following Folsom, but in the southeastern US, Dalton (10,400-9,850 BP, though poorly dated) may be the first projectile points with unifacial beveling on alternate edges [70]. It is also found on younger (9,800-8,000 BP) square-stemmed Cody knives [71] and Foothill-Mountain Tradition Pryor Stemmed points [72]. In the Midwestern US Hardin Barbed bifaces bear striking morphological resemblance to Lowe points, exhibiting square to slightly expanding stems with blades that may exhibit projecting barbs where they meet the stem. ...
... The manufacture of basketry occurred only slightly thereafter. Moreover, these industries continued to be evidenced, often in a much more elaborated state, through the period of Euro-American contact (see Adovasio 1970aAdovasio , 1970bAdovasio , 1971Adovasio , 1974Adovasio , 1975aAdovasio , 1975bAdovasio , 1976Adovasio , 1977Adovasio , 1980aAdovasio , 1980bAdovasio , 1980cAdovasio and Andrews 1980Adovasio, Andrews, and Carlisle 1976;Andrews, Adovasio, Carlisle, and Drennan n.d.;Adovasio, Carlisle, and Andrews 1978;Adovasio and Gunn 1975Hyland 1993, 1997;Adovasio and Lynch 1973;Adovasio and Maslowski 1980;Adovasio 1980, 1989;Andrews, Adovasio, and Carlisle 1986;Andrews, Adovasio, and Whitley 1988;Cosgrove 1947;Cressman 1942;Frison, Adovasio, and Carlisle 1986;Frison, Andrews, Adovasio, Carlisle, and Edgar 1986;Guernsey and Kidder 1921;Heizer and Krieger 1956;Hyland and Adovasio 1995, 1999Hyland, Adovasio, and Taylor 1998;King 1974aKing , 1974bKing , 1979King , 1986Lindsay et al. 1968;Loud and Harrington 1929;MacNeish et al. 1967;Morris and Burgh 1941;Price 1957;Rozaire 1957Rozaire , 1969Rozaire , 1974Tuohy 1970Tuohy , 1974Weltfish 1932). ...
... Both porcellanite and nonvolcanic glass vary in color and include opaque light gray, dark gray, black, red, maroon, purple, or green. The glass eventually grades into slightly grayish translucent to perfectly clear material and is rarely a combined black with translucent light gray clouds that is extremely difficult to distinguish from high quality obsidian (see Frison et al. 1968, where early recognition of this material misidentified nonvolcanic glass as obsidian). Porcellanite quality varies greatly, and some of the best artifact quality sources occur in southeastern Montana, with very high quality material in hilltop scoria deposits within the Anticline. ...