Alpine Lives of Ancient People: High-mountain Archeology in Wyoming

Yellowstone Park in North America’s Rocky Mountains receives over 4.5 million visitors a year. On the other hand, the surrounding montane and alpine landscapes, the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE), are some of the most remote, wild, and unvisited areas in the continental United States – they are also one of the continent’s archaeologically least well known. Since 2002, a research project aimed at gaining a better understanding for prehistoric use of lands today managed as federally protected Wilderness Areas has demonstrated that contrary to the legislated Wilderness definition “as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain,” prehistoric human populations were fundamentally important participants in the ecological webs structuring the GYE. This program is labeled the Greybull River Sustainable Landscape Ecology (GRSLE) project and seeks to “integrate natural and social sciences to promote ecological and economic sustainability through transdisciplinary research, education, and stewardship initiatives.” Based on systematic inventory of slightly more than 1% of a roughly 260,000 ha study area that focuses on elevations of greater than 2500m, which in 2002 had less than a dozen recorded prehistoric archaeological sites, GRSLE teams have recorded over 180,000 individual artifacts clustered into nearly 700 archaeological sites. Aspects of this project including a longitudinal research perspective, off-site archaeology, wildlands fires, melting ice patches, and ungulate migration corridors are reviewed.



About the presenter

Dr Larry Todd

Dr Lawrence “Larry” Todd is a Professor Emeritus in the Department of Anthropology, Colorado State University, and a Research Fellow in the Department of Anthropology, Texas State University. For over 35 years, Dr. Todd has been participating in archaeological research projects seeking to refine our understanding of human-landscape interactions. This research has primarily been carried out on the North American Great Plains, but he has also worked in France, South Africa, Ukraine, and Turkey. A native of Meeteetse, Wyoming, Todd received his BA from the University of Wyoming and MA and PhD in Anthropology from the University of New Mexico in 1983. Beginning with his first field experiences, which led to his doctoral dissertation research on the Horner bison kill site, he spent most of the last quarter of the 20th century researching the archaeology and taphonomy of North American bison kill sites. He has taught archaeology at Denver University, Boston University, University of Wyoming, Colorado State University, and currently at Northwest College.


About Archaeology Working Papers

The Working Papers in Archaeology seminar series provides a forum for dissemination of archaeological research and ideas amongst UQ archaeology students and staff. All students are invited to attend the series and postgraduate students, from honours upwards, are invited to present their research. The aim is to provide opportunities for students, staff and those from outside UQ, to present and discuss their work in an informal environment. It is hoped that anyone interested in current archaeological directions, both within and outside the School and University, will be able to attend and contribute to the series.