Paleoecological and Archaeological Investigation of the ROMO 9 Ice Patch, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, USA

Authors

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1558/jga.19957

Keywords:

Ice Patch, Late Holocene, Ice Tree, Colorado

Abstract

Rocky Mountain National Park contains a dense record of prehistoric Native American archaeological locales and biological resources, but questions remain about the past use of the Park’s ice patches by ancient humans and animals. Our survey of 30 locations in the Park revealed that the majority of ice patches are small in size and contain limited evidence of past visitation by mobile peoples, but moderate use by game. In this paper, we present new radiocarbon dates for materials documented in the recently melted forefield of the ROMO 9 ice patch, a mid-sized ice body located in alpine tundra along the Continental Divide. Dated materials include timber-sized pine trees, keratin and bone collagen from large game (bighorn sheep, elk), and a possible wooden artifact made from Mountain mahogany. Results suggest most finds date to several periods of known neoglaciation, during the mid-Holocene (c. 4150 cal BP) and the Little Ice Age (c. 115 cal BP). Our results corroborate past findings on mid-Holocene timberline in the Colorado Front Range, as well as the paucity of archaeological evidence from small ice patches in Colorado.

Author Biographies

Jason M. LaBelle, Colorado State University

Jason M. LaBelle is a professor of Anthropology at Colorado State University, where he directs the Center for Mountain and Plains Archaeology. He received his MA and Ph.D. degrees in Anthropology from Southern Methodist University and his BA degree from Colorado State University. Over the past 25 years, he supervised field and lab projects related to hunter-gatherer reoccupation, variation in Paleoindian sites, thermal features, high altitude game drives, Fremont granaries, and lithic caches. Much of his research focuses on measuring occupational intensity (within site and over time) relative to the various ecosystems of the western Plains and Rocky Mountains.

Kelton A, Meyer, Colorado State University

Kelton A. Meyer is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Anthropology and Geography at Colorado State University. He is a field and lab director for the Center for Mountain and Plains Archaeology at Colorado State University. He received his MA in Anthropology from Colorado State University, where he examined prehistoric communal hunting and chronology of stone features in alpine environments. His current research focuses on theory and measurement of palimpsests at archaeological sites, spatial statistical models, and Paleoindian lithic technology.

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Published

2021-08-15

How to Cite

LaBelle, J. M. ., & Meyer, K. A. (2021). Paleoecological and Archaeological Investigation of the ROMO 9 Ice Patch, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, USA. Journal of Glacial Archaeology, 5, 51–71. https://doi.org/10.1558/jga.19957

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