By Geoff Smith
In 2006, a Sundance crew tested a large rockshelter in the Black Rock Mountain Range. Known as Paiute Creek Shelter (PCS), our work was aimed at assessing the site's potential to contain deposits dating to before ca. 7,500 14C B.P. In total, we excavated four 1-m2 units to a final depth of more than 2 meters below the ground surface.
An overview of Paiute Creek Shelter, northwest Nevada
Our work demonstrated that PCS does not contain evidence of Paleoindian occupation. Geomorphological work revealed that sometime prior to ca. 4,180 14C B.P., nearby Paiute Creek flowed through the shelter. If earlier occupations did occur at the site, then the creek washed away all traces of them. Sometime after ca. 4,180 14C B.P., the creek moved out of the shelter and it began to fill with alluvial and colluvial sediment.
Late Holocene hunter-gatherers occupied PCS from after 4,180 14C B.P. until as late as the turn of the 20th century. Those groups left behind an extensive collection of lithic and faunal remains. Analyses of these materials are currently underway and will undoubted contribute to our understanding of prehistoric lifeways in northwest Nevada.
Profile of a Late Prehistoric hearth with an associated mano at Paiute Creek Shelter