June 30, 2010
Ancient Hunting Tool Found Near Yellowstone
By Chad Love
You may recall a Field Notes post back in April about ancient hunting tools found in melting snowpack . Apparently it's a growing trend because a University of Colorado researcher recently discovered a 10,000-year-old atlatl in a patch of melting ice near Yellowstone National Park.
From this story on KMGH Denver:
The weapon, which is a dart, looks like a small tree branch, but CU Boulder research associate Craig Lee said the birch sapling still has personal markings on it from an ancient hunter. When it was shot, the 3-foot-long dart had a projectile point on one end, and a cup or dimple on the other end that would have attached to a hook on the atlatl, according to Lee. The hunter used the atlatl, a throwing tool about 2 feet long, for speed. Lee found the atlatl dart melting out of an ice patch in the Rocky Mountains close to Yellowstone National Park.
Lee, a specialist in the emerging field of ice patch archaeology, said the dart had been frozen in the ice patch for 10 millennia and that climate change has increased global temperatures and accelerated melting of permanent ice fields, exposing organic materials that have long been entombed in the ice. "We didn’t realize until the early 2000s that there was a potential to find archaeological materials in association with melting permanent snow and ice in many areas of the globe," Lee said in a news release. "We’re not talking about massive glaciers, we’re talking about the smaller, more kinetically stable snowbanks that you might see if you go to Rocky Mountain National Park." Later this summer, Lee and CU-Boulder student researchers will travel to Glacier National Park to work with the Salish, Kootenai and Blackfeet tribes and researchers from the University of Wyoming to recover and protect artifacts that may have recently melted out of similar locations.