click on logo to return to GRSLE

 

GRSLE
  Bechberger2010
  Bohn 2007

  Burnett 2005
  Derr 2006

  Kinneer 2007
  Mueller 2007
  Ollie 2008
  Reiser 2010
  Reitze 2004

RELATED PROJECTS
  Adams 2006

  Burke 2008
  Burger 2002
  Burris 2004
  Gantt 2002

Hit Counter
Visitors Since 4/20/06

Locations of visitors to this page

MA THESIS RESEARCH PROJECTS

Since 2004, a series of graduate students from Colorado State University have completed field research for Master's Thesis projects that form important parts of both the educational and research components of the GRSLE project.  These theses are available here in order to allow a more general dissemination of the results of these investigations to both the local community and to broader audiences.  Links to several other recent CSU MA projects, while not dealing with the Greybull drainage specifically, emphasize the same perspectives on transdisciplinary research that is fundamental to the GRSLE project and are also included.

GRSLE HOME  STOP LOOTING  CLASSES  PHOTOS   RESEARCH


GRSLE Project Theses:

Bechberger, J. M. (2010). BIOGEOMORPHIC PROCESSES AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE FORMATION IN THE ABSAROKA MOUNTAINS OF NORTHWESTERN WYOMING
Archaeologists frequently associate Thomomys taploides, the Northern Pocket Gopher, with the loss of stratigraphic integrity. Disturbance from subsurface burrowing and the redistribution of sediment can result in both lateral and vertical movement of cultural material. However, fossorial activity does not necessarily negate the research potential of a site. Burrowing mammals may actually reveal previously unidentified archaeological sites, help land managers develop effective site testing plans and evaluate site significance, and contribute to a better understanding of a region’s archaeological record and past environmental conditions. This research explores the influence of pocket gopher activity on site formation at a high elevation prehistoric flaked stone scatter in the Absaroka Mountains of northwestern Wyoming (48PA2874). Archaeological data were examined in conjunction with pocket gopher behavioral patterns and geomorphic processes to better understand the affect of burrowing and sediment relocation on cultural material. This project provides a general background for further research on pocket gopher impacts to archaeological material in alpine settings. With additional research the effect of pocket gopher activity on artifact distribution in high elevation environments can be better understood.

Bohn, A. D. (2007). SCATTERED GLASS: OBSIDIAN ARTIFACT PROVENANCE PATTERNS IN
NORTHWESTERN WYOMING

Home to several high quality sources of the volcanic glass material, obsidian artifacts are found throughout the archaeological record in northwestern Wyoming. Obsidian is a useful lithic raw material for evaluating prehistoric land use patterns because it can be matched with the geochemical signatures of source materials. As part of the Greybull River Sustainable Landscape Ecology (GRSLE) project, this research seeks to evaluate obsidian distribution patterns in the Upper Greybull watershed and the relationship to local and regional land use patterns. The study area is located within the volcanically formed Absaroka Mountain range where there is clear evidence of prehistoric land use from the Late Paleoindian period to recent times. Field and laboratory components were conducted to evaluate several research questions. During the field component, artifacts were recorded following pedestrian surveys and a sample of obsidian artifacts were collected for geochemical characterization. The laboratory component consisted of the geochemical and lithic analysis of the sampled artifacts.

Burnett, P.C. (2005). SURFACE LITHIC SCATTERS IN THE CENTRAL ABSAROKAS OF WYOMING
This thesis provides baseline data on the variability of prehistoric lithic scatters documented across surfaces in the central Absaroka Range of northwestern Wyoming. Prehistoric hunter-gatherer behaviors and landscape attributes driving this variability are interpreted, and the dimensions controlling archaeological variability in this montane setting are defined. Themes of behavioral continuity and change are common to researching human systems, and in the Absaroka Range this research is especially relevant for anthropologists and earth scientists studying Holocene change.

Derr, K. M. (2006). THERMAL LANDSCAPES: TEMPERATURE AND SITE PLACEMENT IN
NORTHWEST WYOMING

Biotic communities are shaped primarily by interactions between temperature,
effective moisture, topography, soil, disturbance regime and time. In a montane ecosystem, temperature and effective moisture vary with topography across short distances. These topographically driven changes cause concordant variation in habitat structure. Prehistoric hunter-gatherers in a montane ecosystem may have incorporated topography, temperature, and habitat structure into site placement strategies. This study seeks to understand the correlation between topographically mediated temperature gradients (the thermal landscape) and montane prehistoric activity areas.

Kinneer, C.C. (2007). HIGH ALTITUDE STONE AND WOOD STRUCTURES OF NORTHWESTERN WYOMING: EXAMPLES FROM THE UPPER GREYBULL RIVER AREA IN THE CENTRAL ABSAROKA MOUNTAINS
This thesis presents the results of archaeological investigations of seven sites with structures identified near the headwaters of the Greybull River in the Absaroka Mountains of northwestern Wyoming. These structures have in common a construction style that consists entirely of dry-laid and/or aligned locally available stone and, in some cases, wooden elements. Investigations, analyses and interpretations of high altitude stone structure sites are often framed by categorical assumptions about site and structure functions. Assumed functions often include game drives, ceremonial localities, location markers, architectural remnants, and windbreaks. These ascribed functions condition the types of data that are gathered, and thus the results of the analyses and interpretations are often self-fulfilling. No single, best, or functionally provable argument, beyond a possible association with hunting, will be provided for the newly presented sites and structures, as too little is known about the builders’ cultural and/or temporal affiliations. Rather, conclusions with respect to site and/or structure function will be oriented around pattern recognition and comparative discussion.

Mueller, A. C. (2007).  ABYSMAL LUCK IN THE ABSAROKAS: GOLD REEF – A LATE 19TH EARLY 20TH CENTURY MINING LOCALITY IN NORTHWESTERN WYOMING
This thesis examines Gold Reef, a small mining locality in the Absaroka Mountains of northwestern Wyoming.Gold Reef was occupied from approximately 1895 to 1914.  The mining archaeology of Wyoming has received only minimal research to date and this paper seeks to partly redress this imbalance. The primary goals of this study are to provide a description of the sites at Gold Reef, compare these sites to other contemporary mining location in the Wyoming Absaroka Mountains, discuss the economic and social forces shaping the development of mining at the time and to verify local indigenous knowledge that the activities at the sites were actually fraudulent. To address these issues the historic, geologic, archaeological and economic aspects of the mining activities in the area are explored and discussed. Discrepancies in the historic records along with the lack of viable economic mineral deposits at the location indicate that the site was indeed an attempt to defraud either investors or the company’s management, although alternative explanations for the archaeology are briefly explored.

Ollie, N. (2008).  LANDSCAPE CHANGE AND STABILITY IN THE ABSAROKA RANGE, GREATER YELLOWSTONE ECOSYSTEM, WYOMING
The archaeological record in the Upper Greybull of northwestern Wyoming is an integral part of landscape dynamics. A dominant force across this region is landslides, and over 60% of archaeological sites in this study were found to be associated with remnant landslide features. These relationships are analyzed at two different spatial scales to better understand landscape evolution in the Upper Greybull. An investigation of site 48PA2811 shows the relationship between disturbance regimes, environmental change, and archaeological preservation at a local scale. This investigation included the documentation of surface and subsurface archaeological deposits, site geomorphology, physical and chemical soil analyses, site stratigraphy, and radiocarbon dating.

Reiser, M. L. (2010). TREE-RINGS, HISTORIC DOCUMENTS, AND INTERPRETING PAST LANDUSE AND ENVIRONMENTS IN THE UPPER GREYBULL RIVER WATERSHED, NORTHWESTERN, WYOMING
As a snapshot of ongoing research, this thesis presents tree-ring crossdating results for four historic cabins and associated structures collected prior to the Little Venus fire of 2006, including crossdates from a historic cabin that burned to the ground. Crossdating results are also presented for culturally modified trees in the area, including culturally peeled trees, and for a “ghost forest,” which may represent the remnants of an ancient forest that succumbed to fire in the late-1400s to mid- iv 1600s. Based on these crossdated samples, a preliminary standardized index of annual tree-ring growth, or master chronology, has been established which extends the tree-ring chronology back to 1260. This master chronology was then compared to historic documents from the region and accounts by early settlers of environmental conditions in the Upper Greybull River Watershed. This comparison has resulted in a more complex and nuanced understanding of past climate and human landuse, as well as highlighting stories about the past that only trees and historic accounts can tell. This thesis is part of an ongoing and urgent effort to collect, preserve and crossdate tree-ring samples from this fire-prone region. Like much of the West, forests in this area have been devastated by a recent bark beetle epidemic, posing a significant threat to cultural resources, especially those made of wood.

Reitze, W. T. (2004). HIGH ALTITUDE OCCUPATION AND RAW MATERIAL PROCUREMENT: DOLLAR MOUNTAIN A NORTHWESTERN WYOMING EXAMPLE
Studying past human behavior is best addressed by the study of the remains of human activity through the use of archaeological methods. But the study of these remains of past human behavior must take into account their context, and human behavior must be explained as a landscape based phenomena. This thesis explores the incorporation of geoarchaeological, geomorphological, and archaeological principles into a system of landscape analysis. Through the study of the changing nature of the landscape, a better understanding of human behavioral responses to a dynamic landscape can be gained.

 

Return to top of page


Related Thesis Projects:

Adams, J.A. (2006) DEVELOPING A FRAMEWORK FOR LATE QUATERNARY HUMAN PALEOECOLOGY IN CENTRAL ASIA: 2003-2004 INVESTIGATIONS AT ANGHILAK CAVE, UZBEKISTAN
Interdisciplinary archaeological investigations were conducted at Anghilak Cave in 2003 and 2004. The proximate goal of this research was to develop a reliable, chronometrically dated stratigraphic framework for the site by integrating concepts and methods from archaeology, geomorphology, and taphonomy into a single methodological and analytical framework. The ultimate goal was to use the stratigraphic framework to address a series of research questions concerning human paleoecology during the Late Quaternary. Two primary depositional units (Units 1 and 2) comprising five stratigraphic layers (Strata I-V) were excavated, identified,
described, sampled and analyzed. A total of five AMS radiocarbon dates were obtained from charcoal samples ranging from 2,798 to 43,900 BP. Stratum IV produced three dates ranging from 27,310 to 43,900, and contained Mousterian artifacts, hominid skeletal remains, and a faunal assemblage dominated by medium ungulates, small animals, and tortoise. The results of this research indicate that Anghilak Cave was occupied during the Last Full Glacial (OIS 3) by hominids producing Mousterian stone tool assemblages. Subsistence ecology is characterized by intensive processing of medium ungulates, followed by small-game resources.

Burke, C. (2008). CARNIVORE ATTRITION OF THE KAPLAN-HOOVER BISON BONEBED: LATE
HOLOCENE PREDATORY ECOLOGY OF THE CACHE LA POUDRE BASIN,
COLORADO PIEDMONT

Zooarchaeological, taphonomic, and ethological investigations of carnivore modification are investigated at the Kaplan–Hoover bison bonebed (5LR3953) in Windsor, Colorado. Kaplan–Hoover is a Late Archaic Yonkee bison bonebed dated to approximately 2724+/-35 RCYBP. Prehistoric hunters used an arroyo to trap approximately 200+ bison. After the kill, limited use of the carcasses by hunters left a surplus of bison meat available for nonhuman scavengers and predators. Carnivore attrition is present on over 40% of the limb bones included in this study. Taphonomic analysis indicates that the Kaplan–Hoover collection was modified and used by a range of non-human scavengers. Using an interdisciplinary approach to methodology as well as identifying key patterns relevant to a variety of fields of research, including conservation biology is done. Biogenic factors influence the taphonomy of a faunal assemblage. In addition, this project illustrates integration of zooarchaeological research and conservation management decisions. In order to understand human interactions with present and future environments, a researcher must first understand the prior behaviors that assisted in the development of those events.

Burger, O. (2002). A MULTI-SCALE PERSPECTIVE FOR ARCHAEOLOGICAL SURVEY
Excavations provide detailed but small-scale windows into prehistoric behaviors and taphonomic processes. Archaeological surveys are valuable because they allow for the analysis of large-scale phenomena in ways that are unavailable in excavations. However, the methods of documentation used in excavation are not generally applied at the landscape-scale. Conventional survey methods do not gather accurate samples of the archaeological record because they are greatly biased toward high-density artifact clusters. Important information regarding formational processes and human landuse is represented in the low-density portions of
the archaeological record and should be included in archaeological research design. To achieve a more comprehensive understanding of the archaeological record, the research summarized in this thesis synthesizes
the approaches of siteless survey, attribute-based spatial analysis, and multi-scale sampling.

Burris, L.E. (2004). HARVESTER ANT MOUNDS: UTILITY FOR SMALL OBJECT DETECTION
IN ARCHAEOLOGY

Archaeological survey is frequently conducted at a walking pace at 10-m spacing. Under these conditions, detection of small (less than 5 mm) objects is extremely difficult. Unfortunately, time and financial constraints limit the amount of additional detailed survey that can be conducted so the presence of small artifacts is under or unreported. An alternative presented here is to inspect the highly-visible gravel nest mounds built by the western harvester ant, Pogonomyrmex occidentalis, for this small material. Present in much of the western United States, this ant was found to reliably detect and collect gravel-like material from distances as far as 20 m from the nest, although most collection occurred within 12 m.

Gantt, E. (2002). THE CLAUDE C. AND A. LYNN COFFIN LINDENMEIER COLLECTION: AN INNOVATIVE METHOD FOR ANALYSIS OF PRIVATELY HELD ARTIFACT COLLECTIONS AND NEW INFORMATION ON A FOLSOM CAMPSITE IN NORTHERN COLORADO
The Claude C. and A. Lynn Coffin Lindenmeier collection contains 1,125 pieces, 1,122 of which are chipped stone artifacts, collected from the Lindenmeier Folsom campsite between 1924 and the mid 1950s. A. Lynn Coffin, Judge Claude C. Coffin, and C. K. Collins are credited with discovering Lindenmeier adding historical significance to this collection. Furthermore, the size of the Coffin family assemblage from Lindenmeier
is significant in comparison to the other known artifacts from the site curated by the Smithsonian and the Fort Collins Museum. The Coffin family assemblage from Lindenmeier more than three times as large as that held by the Fort Collins Museum (n=333) (Ambler 1999), more than four times that collected by the Denver Museum of Natural History (n=278) (Cotter 1978), and a significant portion of the number of diagnostic artifacts held by the Smithsonian (Wilmsen and Roberts 1978).

Return to top of page

Return to GRSLE homepage