Archaeology and Science at the Paisley Caves

Archaeology and Science at the Paisley Caves

Dennis L. Jenkins
Senior Research Archaeologist
Museum of Natural and Cultural History
University of Oregon, Eugene

Tuesday, 30 Oct 2012, 7:30 pm
Smith Memorial Union 294, Portland State University
Co-sponsored by the PSU Departments of Anthropology and Geology and Sigma Xi Columbia-Willamette Chapter

This colorful slide show takes the audience through the scientific processes employed in proving the case for pre-Clovis (more than 13,000 years ago) human occupation at the now world-famous Paisley Caves. It brings the audience the most up-to-date information about the evidence for Pleistocene human occupation of Oregon’s high desert country. A total of 200 radiocarbon dates on camel and horse bones, bone and wood tools, cordage, basketry, food remains, twigs, and dried human feces containing Native American DNA indicate people occupied the Paisley Caves from 14,500 years ago into the historic period.

Dennis Jenkins is a Senior Research Archaeologist for the Museum of Natural and Cultural History at the University of Oregon, where he received his PhD in 1991. He earned his BA (1977) and MA (1981) in anthropology from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where he rapidly became immersed in the archaeology of the Great Basin. He has taught and directed the UO’s Northern Great Basin archaeological field school in the Fort Rock and Summer Lake basins since 1989. His research focuses on the first colonization of the Americas, obsidian sourcing and hydration, prehistoric shell bead trade, and settlement-subsistence patterns of the Northern Great Basin. He has conducted more than 100 site investigations throughout his career, authoring 7 books and >70 chapters, articles, reviews, professional reports, and contributions to reports, and >50 papers at professional meetings. Most recently, he has been involved in the recovery of ancient human DNA from coprolites (dried feces) dating to 14,500 years and has established the contemporaneity of
Western Stemmed projectile points at the Paisley Caves with Clovis points, co-authoring 5 articles
in Science and Nature. He has appeared in 8 television documentaries, filming for History Channel, National Geographic, Oregon Public Broadcasting, and Canadian Broadcasting, and his work at the Paisley Caves has been profiled in >50 newspaper and magazine articles.

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