Central Wyoming College Professor of Anthropology Todd Guenther will present on the archeology aspect of the Interdisciplinary Climate Change Expedition at the Riverton Museum on Thursday, Feb. 7 at 6:30 pm.
Guenther will discuss some of the astonishing discoveries that the CWC-ICCE archaeology students have made during ICCE in the highest reaches of the Wind River Mountains. For five seasons, Guenther and his students have worked in the Dinwoody, Gannett Peak area of the Shoshone National Forest.
Their findings have reached the heights of more than 13,000 feet above sea level and have dated back to nearly 12,000 years ago. Such sites as the Clovis and Goshen have indicated that the earliest humans in North America climbed up to the highest and most forbidding places in the Rocky Mountains.
“These cold-adapted people had only recently left Siberia and Beringia and were not intimidated by harsh landscapes or weather,” Guenther said.
Other discoveries from ICCE include a bison jump which is 2,400 feet higher than the next-highest recorded jump site. In this unlikely location, prehistoric hunters drove herds of buffalo to their deaths over a small scarp to obtain meat for whole communities. There is also evidence of a pilgrimage trail that appears to suggest glacier-worship ceremonies similar to those practiced by Incas in the Peruvian Andes. Many camps and village sites from all prehistoric time periods are scattered across the alpine landscape, demonstrating that people from many cultures lived comfortably and thrived for extended periods of time in areas that modern Americans regard as untrammeled Wilderness. The last of these prehistoric peoples were the Shoshone Sheep Eaters who also left distinctive traces on the landscape.
“Some of the students who participate in this project are descended from the Sheep Eaters and have a personal stake in this effort,” Guenther said. Evidence of early fur-traders and pioneer settlers has also been recorded.
Community members and students are welcome to attend this free event at the Riverton Museum. Guenther will present at 6:30 pm.