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Paleoindian Occupation of the Colorado Alpine Ecosystem: A Consideration of Archaeological and Paleoclimatic Data

Author(s): Jason LaBelle

Year: 2016

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Summary

Colorado is well known for the dense concentrations of Paleoindian sites found within its eastern plains as well as several high altitude basins (Middle Park, Gunnison Basin, and San Luis Valley) to the west. Prominent mountain ranges separate these clusters, with the sinuous Continental Divide forming the headwaters of the Colorado, Rio Grande, and Platte River valleys. These mountains, with elevations routinely topping 3000-4000 m, would have presented both challenges and opportunities for the earliest inhabitants of the region. This paper examines the occurrence and frequency of Paleoindian components within two well surveyed wilderness areas within the Medicine Bow Range and Front Range of the Southern Rocky Mountains. Nearly fifty years of survey and excavation provide a dataset for examining the early occupation of the alpine ecosystem. While limited numbers of Late Pleistocene materials are noted (Clovis and Folsom), these mountain areas are dominated by late Paleoindian phenomena, in particular those associated with the Early Holocene Allen complex. The archaeological data are arrayed against paleoclimatic reconstructions of the ecosystem to discuss the timing of the initial human occupation of these mountain ranges, the periods of their most intensive cultural use, and perhaps the reasons for these early occupations.


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Paleoindian Occupation of the Colorado Alpine Ecosystem: A Consideration of Archaeological and Paleoclimatic Data. Jason LaBelle. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 404055)


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Spatial Coverage

min long: -113.95; min lat: 30.751 ; max long: -97.163; max lat: 48.865 ;

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America