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Mud Lake Survey

By Lindsay Fenner

During the 2009 field season, a Sundance crew conducted survey along a pluvial lake in south-central Nevada. This lake basin, now a playa, is called Mud Lake and is located in the Ralston Valley of Nye County, Nevada. Knowledge of Mud Lake's archaeological resources has primarily come from avocational artifact collectors from the nearby town of Tonopah. While Mud Lake's rich prehistoric resources have been know of for more than 40 years, little systematic archaeological work has been conducted there before.

Mud Lake Basin

An overview of the Mud Lake basin, Nye County, NV

Under the direction of Lindsay Fenner, the project combined targeted pedestrian survey of the remnant Pleistocene beach ridges, ephemeral channels, and geologically active areas of alluvial fan encroachment or erosion with the relocation of previously known sites. This work identified 17 new sites and nine previously known sites. Of the 20 sites with temporally diagnostic artifacts, 19 of these contained Paleoindian projectile points. In this region, such projectiles include Great Basin Stemmed Series and Black Rock Concave Base points, which accounted for 69% of all diagnostic artifacts identified during this project. While the Mud Lake basin is dominated by Paleoindian aged sites, a broad range of other items ranging from Early Archaic to proto-historic artifacts were also identified, indicating that Mud Lake was an important locality throughout all of prehistory.

Great Basin Stemmed Point

One of the many Great Basin Stemmed points found during pedestrian survey in the Mud Lake basin.

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University of Nevada, Reno

University of Nevada, Reno
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