Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Blackfoot Cave

Weekend before last, I volunteered some time excavating at a rockshelter called Blackfoot Cave in the southeast part of Douglas County. The Colorado Archaeological Society has been conducting excavations here for the past few years after Doughas County became convinced of its signficance and acquired the site. The main overhang is behind the trees on the right side of the picture. A farmhouse, built at the turn of the Twentieth century, stood where the cars are parked now. You can see a remnant out-building in front of the trees.
Here's a picture of the excavation party taking a lunch break in front of the main overhang.  If you look closely you can see a masonry wall across the back of the shelter that was put there by the owners of the farmhouse. There's an active spring behind the wall. The people who occupied the farmhouse moved lots of dirt around which has made the archaeologists' job fairly difficult, as many of the prehistoric occupation layers have been disturbed and/or mixed with historic trash.

The Colorado Historical Society has supported the work with a grant that has paid for some radiocarbon assays. The earliest date recovered so far is from about 5,000 years ago, and several others date from the Late Prehistoric Period from about 500 to 1,000 years ago. Most of the diagnostic artifacts recovered so far support the later dates. Earlier this season a diagnostic projectile point that dates from about 8,000 years ago was found, but it came from one of the mixed-up layers I mentioned earlier.

Here's a pic of the unit I worked in. You can see it has good dark charcoal-flecked midden soil. One of the joys of digging in rockshelters is that you get ot deal with lots of rocks as you can see here.

I was fortunate enough to find this Late Prehistoric corner-notched arrow point at a depth of about 75cm. I found it underneath the rock with the bucket and tools on it you can see in the previous picture. It's made out of a reddish colored petrified wood that is a common material found locally.

I am convinced we will find some earlier datable occupations here. One of the units directly in front of the shelter (right side of the second picture) was returning lots of good undisturbed material, including datable charcoal, at a depth of about 2m. We'll see how those dates turn out.

The site has a wonderful view of Pike's Peak, which you can see under these afternoon monsoon clouds.

Bonus nature pic #1: this goldfinch spent about 10 minutes chowing down on a thistle just south of our unit. Thistledown was flying everywhere.

Bonus nature pic #2: this young robin eyed me for a while, seemingly trying to decide if he should ask me for food.   


Anonymous said...

Mr. Bodio,

I have also volunteered at the Blackfoot Cave site, and before I did I was required to sign a confidentiality agreement that specifically forbids disclosing this kind of information about the site. By posting this information, you are compromising the dig. For shame!

Steve Bodio said...

You might at least check who you are talking to before you criticize. And I am sure Reid (not me) can answer for himself.

Steve Bodio said...

And neither of us are Anonymous.