On a cool and misty morning my husband and I and a few other members of our community's historical society visited a fascinating area in the outskirts of Littleton, Colorado, called Lamb Springs Archaeological Preserve. Here, in 1960, the land's owner and rancher, Charles Lamb, was digging a stock pond at the the site of a natural spring. He found several large bones that were identified by geologists with the US Geological Survey, as the remains of mammoth, horse, camel and bison. (All photos in this post will enlarge if clicked on)
Dr Waldo Wedel--a Smithsonian Institution archaeologist--and Dr. Glenn Scott--of the US Geological Survey--then excavated the site in 1961 and 1962.
They found the bones of at least five mammoths, one of which was radiocarbon dated as slightly older than 13,000 years old! This meant the animals might have visited this spring at the end of the last Ice Age.
After the Columbian Mammoths and other Ice Age animals had become extinct, people hunted and killed bison at the spring between 8,500 and 9,000 years ago. These people used stone tools associated with what archaeologists call the Cody Complex.
In 1980 and 1981, Dr. Dennis Stanford--a Smithsonian Institution archaeologist--also excavated the site and found evidence suggesting that people may have hunted the Ice Age mammoths, which would mean humans existed in the North American Continent long before what scientists believed! He also found the evidence of over 30 mammoths that died near the spring.
It is thought that this site was a major hunting ground.
Jack Warner, of the Colorado Archaeological Society, was our guide during our visit to the site, and he gave a very interesting talk about the history and scientific studies done at Lamb Springs. He showed us photos of reproductions of the types of tools and weapons used by the Paleo Indians--from the Clovis period circa 13,000-12,000 BP, to the Anasazi people, AD 750 to 1300.
It was interesting to learn from Mr. Warner that this natural spring site, that existed for thousands of years, went totally dry in the 1970's.
The excavation of a juvenile Columbian Mammoth skull took place in July 2002, under the supervision of Drs. Dixon and Murphy and students and volunteers from the Museum Studies Program at the University of Colorado-Boulder and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. The skull was on display in the Denver Museum of Nature of Science from July 2002-3 and is currently in storage until an interpretive exhibition center can be built on the Lamb Spring site.
A model of the mammoth skull placed in the vicinity where it was found, is shown on the Lamb Springs site in a small house kiosk.
The 32 acres around Lamb Spring site was purchased by The Archeological Conservancy in 1995 with the assistance of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Douglas County, Colorado and the Smithsonian Institution.
The Front Range area of Colorado is undergoing great population growth, and much of the privately held land in this location will soon be the site of a major housing developments. It is fortunate that The Archaeological Conservancy had the foresight to purchase this land and preserve it for the future. There is an interesting article, on this link, about other discoveries recently made beneath the ground in Douglas County, Colorado. Dinosaurs, mammoths, petrified palm trees---it has made me think what secrets could be beneath my feet where I live? What discoveries are yet to be found where you live? Learning about the past may help us learn how to face the challenges of the future.
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