Archaeologists in Golden, Colorado have been hard at work examining a prehistoric site and have discovered evidence of hunter-gatherer activity here, based on fresh excavations.
According to KUNC, the prehistoric site that is currently being studied is also referred to as “Magic Mountain,” which was the name of a large amusement park that used to sit on the property when archaeologists first began excavating the area back in the 1950s.
Archaeologist Mark Mitchell, a research director for the Paleocultural Research Group, has explained that prehistoric hunter-gatherers once lived in this area. The past inhabitants would have also used it as a camping spot during the last 5,000 years as it was extremely well-placed, with plenty of water and animals nearby, which would have been necessary for survival.
“It’s a great place to be in the winter. You have water. Their animals congregated there. It’s not too high and it’s not too low. It’s kind of the Goldilocks spot of the Front Range.”
Last summer, archaeologists excavated further, digging down an additional seven feet beneath the ground. As Michele Koons, curator of archaeology with the Denver Museum of Nature and Science noted, this was necessary so that some of the very earliest parts of the site could be examined for evidence of further prehistoric activity.
During their newest excavations in Golden, Colorado, archaeologists unearthed a large stretch of soil, which was roughly the size of a car windshield. Inside, they found animal bones and stones, that had been used to create tools during prehistoric times, according to Koons.
“And in there we found some animal bones and some chipped stone from making stone tools. So we know that people were there during that particular time period and they were probably eating, butchering and cooking those animals and making the stone tools in that particular location.”
Initial radiocarbon dating — from this older layer of soil from last summer’s excavation — has shown that it can be dated back to approximately 9,000 years ago, which greatly broadens the scope of hunter-gatherer activity at this Colorado site.
Finding evidence of prehistoric human activity in North America is normally something of a challenge, as archaeologists like Mitchell note that they must find “old dirt,” to do this, which he says is extraordinarily difficult, seeing as how most of it has either “eroded away,” or has been buried
While it is believed that the landscape likely looked very similar to how it does today, the one big difference for prehistoric hunter-gatherers who lived here 9,000 years ago would have been the now extinct bison dotting the landscape, which were 30 percent larger than any found today.