Field-Work in the Southwest

Originally Published in 1931

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THERE seems to be an increasing evidence that man lived in the Southwest at a period earlier than the Basket Maker. This evidence is based largely on the association of human artifacts with the bones of extinct animals.

In a cave, on the eastern slopes of the Guadalupe Mountains, in New Mexico, where Mr. Edgar B. Howard of the Museum staff has been conducting work for the past two summers, a quantity of animal bones has been uncovered, mostly of Pleistocene age, among which were bison, antelope, horse, musk-ox and California condor. Some of these bones were in definite association with hearths found at various levels below Basket Maker burials.

A woven basket that has been flattened
Plate V — Basket Maker Twined-woven Bag from the Guadalupe Mountains, New Mexico
Image Number: 13202

Three burials have been uncovered, and in one, found this year, was a very fine twined-woven bag [Plate V], wrapped in an antelope skin, and containing the remains of charred human bones. At a level approximately four feet below this burial was found a hearth in which were several bison bones and a spear-point of especial interest in that the chipping technique is similar to that of the Folsom points found elsewhere in the Southwest.

A little beyond this hearth and at the same level was found the horn of a musk-ox, an animal whose present habitat is the northern part of the continent from Alaska to Greenland.
The finding of horse bones in this cave brings up the question as to when the horse actually died out in this country, prior to its reintroduction by the Spaniards, who recorded no horses here upon their arrival.

The finds in New Mexico will undoubtedly give added weight to the theory that man lived in North America at the end of the Pleistocene period.

Cite This Article

"Field-Work in the Southwest." Museum Bulletin III, no. 1 (November, 1931): 11-14. Accessed July 15, 2024.

This digitized article is presented here as a historical reference and may not reflect the current views of the Penn Museum.

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