Utah Professional

Archaeological Council


1999: Vol 12 No 1

Utah Archaeology 1999, Volume 12, Number 1

Full Text of Issue


  •  Message from the Editors by Steven Simms and Randy Jones


  • New Form for the Formative by Jacquelyn Massimino and Duncan Metcalfe
    Analysis of 343 radiocarbon dates associated with the Fremont archaeological complex fails to support the findings of Talbot and Wilde’s (1989) earlier study when realistic confidence levels are employed. Instead of a pattern punctuated by “peaks” and “valleys,” our analysis produced variations of simple normal function: more or less uniform increase in frequency to a single peak, followed by a decline in frequency. No evidence was found for significant tempora1 breaks in any of the histograms. The study also considers the interpretation of radiocarbon determinations, specifically the relationship between hearth contexts and behavior, and possible implications for radiocarbon data patterns.

  • Ceramics and Mobility: Assessing the Role of Foraging Behavior and its Implications for Culture-History by Jason R. Bright and Andrew Ugan
    Recent studies of Great Basin ceramics have focused on the relationships between mobility and degree of investment in ceramic manufacture (e.g., Bright et a1. 1998; Janetski 1998; Simms et a1. 1997). These studies have shown that a high degree of residential mobility results in decreased investment of time and energy in the production of ceramic vessels, but have not tied this pattern to factors influencing mobility itself. We assume that degree of residential mobility is a result of foraging opportunities and decisions, and hypothesize that sedentism and consequent investment in ceramic technology should be greater where the structure of the resource base favors foraging for longer periods. Comparisons of ceramics from residential camps within the Great Salt Lake (GSL) wetlands to those from sites in Utah’s west deserts and the Little Boulder Basin Area (LBBA) provide a test of this hypothesis. Investment in ceramic manufacture is highest in the GSL region, where foraging opportunities are available nearly year-round, and so residential moves are less frequent. Ceramic investment is lower in the more seasonal environments of the west deserts and LBBA. These results have implications for understanding variation in the timing of the appearance of low investment ceramics within the Great Basin.

  • Playa View Dune: A Mid-Holocene Campsite in the Great Salt Lake Desert by Steven R. Simms, Dave N. Schmitt, and Kristen Jensen
    Test excavations at an extensive site in sand dunes on Dugway Proving Ground in northwestern Utah exposed a short-term camp featuring a use surface, hearths, primary refuse disposal, rabbit consumption, bi-po1ar core reduction, and large amounts of fire-cracked rock. Parched and charred Indian Rice Grass seeds indicate occupation in the early summer. A Humboldt projectile point is consistent with two AMS radiocarbon determinations ranging between 4,600–5,400 B.P. This case also speaks to issues of method and theory in archaeological testing: 1. The spacing among dune blow-outs suggests improvements in the design of testing strategies; 2. Test excavation can be part of the assessment of significance, rather than an adverse effect; 3. The test excavations stimulated experimental archaeology on the production of fire-cracked rock that refined estimates of the duration of occupation at Playa View Dune beyond those based on ethnographic analogy and traditional archaeological interpretation.

  • Inferring Intensity of Site Use from the Breakdown Rate and Discard Patterns of Fire-Cracked Rock at Playa View Dune by Kristen Jensen, Jill Jensen, and Celeste Clegg
    Large quantities of fire-cracked rock (FCR) were encountered during archaeological survey and excavation of ancient campsites in the Great Salt Lake Desert in Tooele County, Utah. We propose the application of FCR as an indicator of intensity of activity at a site. A series of replication experiments were conducted to develop expectations about the amount of cooking that produces an assemblage of FCR. With five iterations of the experimental cooking cycle, the number of fragments increased by 600 percent and exhibited a 40 percent reduction in their effectiveness as boiling stones. Playa View Dune (42T0213) is a short-term campsite occupied for a length of a few days up to a month. An application of the experimentally derived breakdown rate to the FCR assemblage dramatically exceeds our expectations for routine cooking activity over a few days. As the interpretation of duration of occupation increases up to a month, so does the likelihood that the FCR represents routine cooking activity, thus a measure of high or low intensity of activity.


  • Excavation of the Donner-Reed Wagons, reviewed by Sonia M. Evans and Timothy D. Evans
  • Man Corn: Cannibalism and Violence in the Prehistoric American Southwest, reviewed by Mark Stuart
  • Prehistoric Warfare in the American Southwest, reviewed by Kathleen Heath