The Lee group included Dr. Murl Dirksen, professor of anthropology, alumni Brooke Orist and Erin Williamson, and current students Allie Webb and Mary Carol McMillian.
They worked under the leadership of renowned archaeologist and Lee alum Dr. Dudley Gardner. Gardner earned his BA from Lee in 1977 and has worked in archaeology for over 30 years. He now teaches at Western Wyoming Community College.
Since 2007, excavation of the rock shelter has revealed a site that consistently dates to 10860 B.C. through carbon-14 dating. There are only 17 other sites in the United States with these dates.
According to Gardner, “The data set being generated at this site contains the potential of answering questions about Colorado’s pre-history.”
The crew found artifacts of the nomadic people that inhabited the rock shelter, including stone tools, spear points, baskets, beads, yucca rope, and straw bedding. It was inhabited from 500 to 12,000 years ago as different groups moved through the region, utilizing the natural shelter. The rock art on the walls of the rock shelter was left by native peoples of the Fremont and Anazasi cultures.
On the trip, McMillian said, “I learned so much about the history of the ancient people that lived where we were working. Every discovery was an exciting and eye-opening experience.”
Growing interest in archaeology has led Lee to other archaeology projects including Dr. Richard Jones’ work with an old Cherokee removal fort near Tellico, Tenn., and Dr. Dan Hoffman’s contributions to excavating a fortress in Mudaybi, Jordan.
The university is establishing a new Center for Archaeology Studies at 533 Trunk St.
Excavating the Rock Shelter, from left, are Erin Williamson, Mary Carol McMillian, Brooke Orist and Allie Web.
Erin Williamson, above, sketches Fremont Petroglyphs.
Research Team includes, from left, Brooke Orist, Erin Williamson, Allie Webb, Mary Carol McMillian and Dr. Murl Dirksen.