Warner Valley Survey

In the summer of 2011, as part of UNR's field school in prehistory and paleoecology, GBPRU crews initiated a multi-year survey project in Warner Valley, Oregon in cooperation with the Lakeview BLM. Although Warner Valley has long been recognized as an area rich in archaeological resources, most work has focused on middle and late Archaic use of that landscape. Paleoindians have generally been conspicuously absent in models of Warnew Valley prehistory. Employing a stratified random sampling strategy to search for early sites, we surveyed 500m x 500m parcels on various landform types: (1) uplands; (2) canyons; (3) pluvial lakeshores; and (4) valley floors. Not surprisingly, our work indicates that the majority of Paleoindian sites occur along pluvial lakeshores, which organic material recovered from two backhoe trenches indicate were formed during the terminal Pleistocene between ~12,350 and ~10,470 14C B.P.

Our ongoing work has recovered numerous fluted and Western Stemmed points together with crescents (Figures 1-3) in close proximity to each other. The temporal relationship between fluted and Western Stemmed points remains poorly understood in the Great Basin and clarifying it has been hampered by a paucity of radiocarbon dates. Although the Paleoindian sites in Warner Valley have not been directly dated, the co-occurrence of fluted and Western Stemmed points along the relatively short-lived shoreline suggests that the two point styles do not differ significantly in age: they may be coeval or separated by only a few centuries. Additional work in Warner Valley will be directed at resolving the spatial and temporal relationships of fluted and Western Stemmed points as well as continuing to search for buried Paleoindian deposits that may contain cultural features that can be directly dated. Additionally, we will focus more intensively on lower-elevation parcels to track the movement of prehistoric groups as they followed the receding lake during the early Holocene and ultimately diversified their adaptive strategies.

Fluted Points

Figure 1. Fluted points from Warner Valley.

Stemmed points

Figure 2. Western Stemmed points from Warner Valley.


Figure 3. Chert and obsidian crescents.

Our ongoing work in Warner Valley is made possible by generous support from Bill Cannon and the Lakeview BLM. GBPRU research there has generated several graduate and undergraduate research projects including two theses. Ultimately, it will produce at least two more theses. Additionally, to date it has provided training for 30+ undergraduate and six graduate students from the University of Nevada, Reno and other academic institutions (Figure 4). Thanks to all of the hard work that those students have put in on fieldwork and lab analysis of material from Warner Valley.

2011 Warner Valley field crew

Figure 4. The 2011 Warner Valley field crew.