Bear Mountain 2011 - Passport in Time

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Bear Mountain PIT Project

Umpqua National Forest, Oregon, 2011
by Christopher J. Kelly, Zone Archaeologist
The Bear Mountain Passport in Time (PIT) project was conducted during the summer of 2011 to examine the age of this cultural site and help nominate it to the National Register of Historic Place.   With the efforts of our volunteers, we made this project an amazing success.

Initially tested in 2010, Bear Mountain artifacts indicated the site may have been occupied during the Early Archaic.   Several 1 x 1 meter units were placed in the site and the density of artifacts were found to be very encouraging.  As winter grew near, the units were lined with filter cloth and back filled, and plans for the 2011 Bear Mountain PIT project started. 

Heavy and persistent rains during the spring of 2011 left our previously excavated filter cloth units saturated.  The first day of the project, volunteers used buckets to remove the sterile and muddy soils from 2010 so we could start where we had left off.  Talk about volunteers with character!

A total of 16 volunteers worked with Forest archaeologists during a two week period, excavating the Bear Mountain lithic scatter. Volunteers spent their days excavating and screening in a small meadow, then camped under starry skies beside a beautiful stream and crackling campfires. 

During our study, two trenches were excavated to examine stratigraphy and occupational continuity.  The teams of volunteers and archaeologists quickly discovered that the site contained plant processing tools as well as diagnostic projectile points indicating this site was repeatedly used from the Early to Late Archaic.

PIT volunteers meticulously excavated in clayey soils to a depth of over one (1) meter.  The site returned their efforts with new and exciting information, day after day.  Charcoal samples submitted for radiocarbon dates are still pending, but are expected to provide additional, and exciting, information on the age of this site.

Thanks to everyone’s efforts the Bear Mountain site will soon be on the National Register of Historic Places.  PIT volunteers helped prove the Bear Mountain site played a significant role in the early occupation of this area.  Thank you, volunteers!
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