Thirsty Gulch - Passport in Time

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Thirsty Gulch Site Testing

Umpqua National Forest, Oregon, 2010
By Chris Kelly, Zone Archaeologist
This Passport in Time (PIT) project was conducted to examine the possible reasons for extensive looting in the Thirsty Gulch site area. Funding for the project came from restitutions paid by persons convicted of violating (illegal digging at the site) the Archaeological Resources Protection Act (ARPA). These funds have also been used for restoration and monitoring at the site.

The project took place this summer and, with the help of PIT volunteers, was a great success. A total of 12 volunteers worked with Forest archaeologists during a two week period, excavating a small portion of the upland lithic scatter, which is what mainly comprises the Thirsty Gulch site. The days began with a drive into the Western Cascades and hiking to the site through a mosaic of oak and pine meadows.

Our study involved excavation of a seven meter (7 m) trench to expose stratigraphy adjacent to a vandalized portion of the Thirsty Gulch site. The teams of volunteers and archaeologists quickly discovered that the site contained a large number of Gunther Series (Late Archaic; ca. 100 B.C. – A.D. 1500) projectile points.

As the project progressed, we encountered areas where illegal digging had taken place, as well as areas that were undisturbed. Historic fence posts and nails were located in two units, which, based on the materials and typologies, demonstrated a portion of the site had been in use during the early to mid-1900s. Projectile points, scrapers, and bifacial tools were recovered during both weeks and contributed to further understanding of this location's cultural history.

During the second week of the project, archaeologists realized it would be necessary to hold another PIT session in 2011 at this location. Why? Stay tuned to this website or, better yet, apply for next year's project!
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