Archaeologists say they've discovered evidence of people living in Colorado's Grand Valley 8,000 years ago. During a recent dig researchers with the Dominguez Anthropological Research Group uncovered a prehistoric stone shelter.
Due to an agreement with the Bureau of Land Management, which oversees the land where the shelter was found, the group could not disclose its exact location, but says it was north of Grand Junction near the Bookcliffs.
After nearly two years of background work and two months of in ground work, DARG researchers say they made quite the find. "We found fire pits and storage features," said James Miller, Research Director for DARG. "We also collected all the lithic artifacts, or stone tools."
The group says it also found remnants of posts where a wall would have gone. At first glance, they might not look like anything exciting, but when you find out how old they are, they become much more interesting. "The oldest one is about 8,000 years old," said Miller.
Miller says the small stone shelter was likely built by a culture called the Foothills-Mountain people, which lived in North America 8,000 - 10,000 years ago. "Between the geology and the artifacts, we have a good idea of the age of the deposits right now," said Miller. Crews had to dig about ten feet into the ground to uncover most of the artifacts they collected.
Based on those items, experts believe the site was just a temporary shelter rather than a permanent home. "It was a place where smaller task groups, just a small segment of the population would go and stay for a few days or a week," said Miller. "In most cases, they'd collect vegetable foods and process them before transporting them back to the base camp."
The group says it's sent about a dozen samples away for radiocarbon dating and is doing further analysis to support their findings.
Last year DARG researchers discovered evidence near Battlement Mesa of a culture that is 13,000 years old.