The Frison Institute/Geoarchaeology Interest Group Symposium: Archaeology and Geoarchaeology of Rockshelters and Caves

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 80th Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA (2015)

Archaeologists have targeted rockshelters and caves for more than a century because they are easy to find, are often less affected by regional erosion and have better preservation than open-air sites. In its early history, archaeology treated caves and rockshelters as artifact mines and, later, as sources of artifact chronology. But, as fixed, sheltered places on the landscape, rockshelters and caves also offer a window onto how settlement systems shift from the point of view of a particular class of sites. At the same time, rockshelters and caves can be geologically complex and their contribution cannot be tapped without acknowledging this fact. Papers in this session examine the archaeology and geoarchaeology of rockshelters as a class of sites whose characteristics can inform about more general properties of the changing cultural system(s) using those sites.

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-16 of 16)

  • Documents (16)

  • Anthropogenic Fire Management and Changing Land-Use Strategies in the Mammoth Cave Plateau and Sinkhole Plain, Central Kentucky, USA (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Justin Carlson. George Crothers.

    In the Mammoth Cave Plateau and the Sinkhole Plain of Central Kentucky, caves and rockshelters are the primary site type. The Plateau contains little arable bottom land, but cliff overhangs, caves, and perennial streams and springs are abundant. The Sinkhole Plain has abundant arable land, but surface water is quickly diverted to underground streams and permanent water sources are limited to caves and karst windows. We compare the archaeology of two important cave sites—Salts Cave in the Plateau...

  • Aspects of Site Formation Processes at the Paleolithic site of La Ferrassie (Dordogne), France (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Paul Goldberg. Vera Aldeias. Dennis Sandgathe. Alain Turq. Laurent Bruxelles.

    La Ferrassie is one of the best-known Middle and Upper Paleolithic sequences in Europe, playing a key role in the question of Neandertal mortuary behavior. Until now, geoarchaeologically-oriented research has focused on the long sequence exposed during the original excavations of Capitan/Peyrony and Delporte (early 20th century and 1968-1973, respectively) in the easternmost part of the site. Our research has exposed intact layers several meters away in the extreme western area of the site, next...

  • Aurignacian(s) in the Mas d'Azil Cave (Ariège, Pyrénées, France) (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Marc Jarry. François Bon. Laurent Bruxelles. Céline Pallier. Lars Anderson.

    Mas d’Azil cave is one of the most important karstic landmarks in southwestern France. This prehistoric research hotspot is mainly famous for evidence of Magdalenian and Epipaleolithic cultures, but recent researches were confirmed the existence of traces of the oldest occupations of the Upper Palaeolithic, poorly documented so far. In this case, the discovery of an in situ cultural sequence containing older and recent Aurignacian opens up largely new possibilities. First, because the cave...

  • Controlling for Carnivores and Shaft Fragmentation in Skeletal Element Analysis: Some Insights from Southern Idaho Cave Deposits (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Ryan Breslawski. David Byers.

    Although caves are often excellent for organic preservation, they also attract carnivores and introduce the potential for rock fall. Carnivores systematically remove spongy long bone ends from assemblages, while experimental studies have shown that rock fall can fragment dense long bone shafts. As a result, these processes may bias faunal assemblages in opposing directions. This has implications for the interpretation of correlations between bone density and skeletal element frequencies in...

  • Goodson Shelter: Recent Excavations at a Newly Discovered Deeply Stratified Rockshelter in Northeastern Oklahoma. (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Brian Andrews. Metin Eren. Susan Mentzer. David Meltzer.

    Goodson Shelter was discovered by an amateur artifact collector and was first brought to our attention in 2012. The site is an approximately 20 x 7 meter eroded sandstone rockshelter situated about 5 meters above a small tributary. Work in 2013 and 2014 consisted of excavation of a 1x7 meter trench running from outside the dripline to the back wall of the shelter. Deposits are approximately 2 meters deep, and appear to be largely stratigraphically intact. Over 300 projectile points/preforms...

  • Near and Far: Spatial Relationships of Inter- and Intra-Site Artifacts at Rimrock Draw Rockshelter (35HA3855), Harney County, Oregon. (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Patrick O'Grady. Joe Collins. Michael Rondeau. Scott Thomas.

    Rimrock Draw Rockshelter is located along a relict stream channel in southeastern Oregon. The lithic assemblage includes Western Stemmed (WST) points; Northern Side-notched (NSN) points; and artifacts associated with fluting technology, such as fluted bifaces, fluting flakes, overshot flakes, and bifaces with overshot flake scars. NSN and WST distributions within the rockshelter have vertical and horizontal separations, indicating temporal and areal differences in site use occurred that can be...

  • The Pre-Mazama Occupation of the LSP-1 Rockshelter, Warner Valley, Oregon (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Geoffrey Smith. Madeline Van der Woort. Aaron Ollivier.

    For the past five years, a crew from the Great Basin Paleoindian Research Unit, University of Nevada, Reno, has excavated in the LSP-1 Rockshelter in Warner Valley, Oregon. Our work has identified a modest record of pre-Mazama (~7,700 cal BP) occupation comprised of lithic tools and debitage, a well-preserved faunal assemblage, shell beads, and hearth features. In this paper, we highlight major trends in the LSP-1 assemblage and place it within the broader context of northern Great Basin...

  • Rethinking Deodoro Roca Rockshelter (Ongamira, Córdoba, Argentina). Seventy years of archaeological ideas (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only ANDRES DARIO IZETA. Roxana Cattaneo.

    The hunter-gatherer archaeology of the Ongamira Valley has been a landmark in the archaeology of Argentina’s Central Region. The cultural sequence built in the 1950s is still used by many archaeologists to interpret regional peopling, subsistence, land use and mobility. However we believe it is time to review the use of rockshelter-generated data under a new approach that embraces landscape archaeology. Stable isotope-based paleo-environmental reconstructions create a baseline and permit...

  • Revisiting Grassridge rockshelter in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa: results of the 2014 field season (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Christopher Ames. Benjamin Collins.

    Grassridge rockshelter is located at the base of the Stormberg Mountains approximately 200 km inland in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. Previous excavation by Dr. Hermanus Opperman in 1979 focused primarily on the Later Stone Age (LSA) and Holocene occupations at Grassridge, but he also identified an underlying Middle Stone Age (MSA, ~300-30 ka) sequence containing abundant typologically MSA lithic material, well-preserved faunal remains, and charcoal. With particular interest in the MSA...

  • The Rockhouse Hollow Rockshelter, Ohio River Valley (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Edward Herrmann. Matthew Rowe.

    Recorded within the sediments of Rockhouse Hollow rockshelter in the Hoosier National Forest in southern Indiana is a rich history of prehistoric occupation spanning 10,000 years. Unlike any other site in Indiana, Rockhouse Hollow has produced artifacts from all prehistoric cultural time periods, with the notable exception of the Paleoindian Period. Although the site had already been looted for decades, excavations in 1961 produced a wealth of lithic and faunal data that have not yet been...

  • Rockshelters and Farming Villages: Complementary seasonal occupations at Woodpecker Cave (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only James Enloe.

    The Late Woodland Period in the Midwest of North America shows a marked shift in diet from mixed hunting, gathering and farming a few indigenous crops to a predominance of maize in the diet, indicated by radical changes is stable isotope ratios. The sumptuary displays of elite trade goods of the Adena and Hopewell Interaction Sphere in the Early and Middle Woodland were replaced by more egalitarian burial practices. Farming villages in the major river valleys underwent a major reorganization in...

  • Rockshelters as Late Quaternary Geoarchaeological Records in the Bighorn Mountains, Wyoming (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Judson Finley. Matthew Rowe.

    Rockshelters in Wyoming’s Bighorn Mountains have a long history of archaeological research resulting in a rich dataset of geological and paleoecological information that provides a context for the region’s 12,000 year cultural record. In this study we focus on three deeply stratified and well-dated rockshelters to meet three primary objectives. First, we apply Bayesian statistics to each record to create an age model that contextualizes stratigraphic variability and contrasts autogenic and...

  • Rockshelters in the Bighorn Basin, Wyoming; Environment, Ecology, and Landuse Patterns (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Matthew Rowe. Judson Finley.

    Archaeologists have investigated many aspects of rockshelters in the Bighorn Basin, Wyoming, but questions remain about the role of these sites within regional settlement patterns. It is clear that the Bighorn Basin is a moisture-controlled ecosystem and that variability in environmental moisture levels produces dramatic changes in both animal and plant populations. Changes in environmental moisture also appear to affect human population levels, and past settlement and subsistence patterns. This...

  • Take shelter! The contributions of rock-shelter archaeology to understanding the socio-economic organization of Final Paleolithic/Mesolithic societies in Western France (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Nicolas Naudinot. Grégor Marchand.

    In some areas of France, the first archaeological investigations were conducted in rock-shelters, and allowed archaeologists to establish the Paleolithic chronology. Later, in other regions, and influenced by Leroi-Gourhan’s research, archaeologists focused on open-air sites, using spatial organization to create "paleoethnography." In Western France, even if the first excavation of a Palaeolithic site, in 1874, was that of a rockshelter, later, all the investigations focused on coastal open air...

  • Tales from Three Caves and a Rockshelter in Balkh Province, Northern Afghanistan (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Charles Kolb.

    The geomorphology and archaeology of four Balkh River Valley sites near the bazaar town of Aq Kupruk (36º05’0"N 66º50’0"E) spanning the Upper Palaeolithic through Contemporary Nomadic cultures are detailed and compared. This valley served as a significant north-south corridor through the Hindu Kush Mountains, a western extension of the Himalayas, and a caravan route from the Turkestan Plain to the Bamiyan Valley and on to the Kabul River Valley, Indus and the Subcontinent. Major excavations were...

  • Two Rockshelters in the Namib: Land use, site use, and risk over the Middle to Later Stone Age transition in Southwestern Africa. (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Theodore Marks.

    The shifts in land and site use strategies that occurred over the Middle to Later Stone Age (MSA to LSA) transition remain poorly understood across the full diversity of environments in Southern Africa. In the Central Namib Desert of Namibia, two rockshelters, Erb Tanks and Mirabib, provide insights into these dynamics within the context of a persistent arid to hyper-arid climate. Employing data from an ongoing lithic sourcing survey, we argue that groups equipped with MSA-type lithic...