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News Release, Kansas Geological Survey, June 3, 2005

Researchers Return to Archeological Dig in Northwest Kansas

LAWRENCE--Researchers from the Kansas Geological Survey, based at the University of Kansas, and the Denver Museum of Science and Nature will return to northwestern Kansas in early June to continue the search for early evidence of humans on the Great Plains.

The researchers, along with staff from the Kansas State Historical Society and approximately 40 volunteers from the Kansas Anthropological Association, will work out of Goodland from June 4 to June 19.

The dig, in Sherman County, is being directed by Survey archeological geologist Rolfe Mandel and Steven Holen at the Denver Museum.

Previous investigations at the site turned up bones of now-extinct animals that may have been fractured by humans. Dated at 12,200 years before present, the bones could represent the oldest evidence of humans on the Great Plains. In addition to the bones, the site produced a rock fragment that could be a piece of a stone hammer.

The site has also produced artifacts that are about 10,900 to 11,000 years old, which scientists refer to as Clovis age. Those artifacts include stone flakes, tools, and pieces of mammoth bone.

The location was probably a camp site that was occupied for a few days or weeks by a small group of nomadic peoples.

"This location has the potential for shedding new light on the timing of human entry into the Western Hemisphere," said Mandel. "This could be the oldest site of human activity on the Great Plains."

The work is supported by the Odyssey Archaeological Research Fund, an endowed program at KU with a directive to search for the earliest evidence of humans in the Great Plains.

Links of interest to this article:
Previous KGS news release (with photos)
Kansas State Historical Society
Kansas Anthropological Association
Denver Museum of Nature & Science
Dept. of Anthropology, University of Kansas

Story by Rex Buchanan, (785) 864-2106
For more information, contact Rolfe Mandel, (785) 864-2171
Kansas Geological Survey, Public Outreach