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A Journey to a New Land

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Post secondary Level Resources

Tule Springs

The site of Tule Springs in located in Nevada, 13 miles north of Las Vegas. It was first discovered in 1933 when an obsidian flake was found in association with the remains of an extinct Pleistocene animal. An archaeological investigation in the 1950's yielded radiocarbon dates that suggested a human presence at the site more than 28,000 years BP.

In 1962, a number of prominent American archaeologists decided to undertake an extensive multi-disciplinary research project at Tule Springs in order to determine whether Pleistocene animals and humans had in fact co-existed at Tule Springs. The project was led by Dr. Richard Shutler, Jr. and radiocarbon dating services were provided for free by Dr. Willard Libby. Geologist C. Vance Haynes, paleontologist John Mawby and palynologists Peter J. Mehringer, Jr. and Paul S. Martin were also involved in the project.

A large-scale excavation took place over a four month period in late 1962. More than three kilometers of trenches, up to 10 meters deep and 4 meters wide, were dug. Bulldozers were used to remove 180,000 tonnes of overburden. Although large numbers of Pleistocene animal remains were found, including mammoth, camel and horse bones, only a handful of archaeological artifacts were located. These included 3 bone tools, a stone scraper and five stone flakes.

Archaeologists concluded that while humans and Pleistocene animals probably did co-exist at the site for a short time, humans did not appear at Tule Springs until about 13,000 – 11,000 years BP.

Further Reading:

Haynes, C. Vance, Jr., A.R. Doberenz, Jack A. Allan
1966 Geological and Geochemical Evidence Concerning the Antiquity of Bone Tools from Tule Springs, Site 2, Clark County, Nevada. American Antiquity 31(4):517-521.

Shutler, Richard, Jr.
1965 Tule Springs Expedition. Current Anthropology. 6(1):110 -111.

Tule Springs
Dr. Richard Shutler

Dr. Richard Shutler
Department of Archaeology
Simon Fraser University