The Archaeological Field School of Weber State University

The eastern Great Basin and Columbia Plateau have been the focus of the Archaeological Field School at Weber State University’s research. Dr. Brooke Arkush and students from Weber State University began investigating various early rock shelter forms in the Birch Creek Valley of eastern Idaho in 2012. In the eastern Idaho Birch Creek valley, in the months of June and July 2013, students from Weber State University’s Archaeological Field School conducted an excavation at a Native American site. This team composed of professor Brooke Arkush anthropology, together with students; Kallie Gross Jeffrey Page, Timothy Alger as well as Sariah Horowitz , worked to unearth Cottontail Rockshelter, a prehistoric seasonal dwelling situated in a canyon on eastern Birch Creek Valley. Every year, students from the field school spend nearly 21 days to excavate archaeological sites during summer. In the past two years, excursions have been made to study Cottontail Rockshelter. Because of the using of rockshelters or overhangs shaped by erosion and weather by prehistoric humans as provisional shelters or lasting family habitation, archaeologists are able study remnants to find out about prehistoric ways of life. The Cottontail rockshelter project focused on the research topics; site chronology; subsistence practices; seasonality; obsidian source variability; and function. During the field school trips, skills were acquired in excavation techniques, classification of artifacts, identifying of faunal remains, mapping, and essential methods of surface survey. The archaeology project consisted of the last period of excavation work at site 10-CL-23, Cottontail Rockshelter. This is a seasonal Native American habitation site in Idaho’s Birch Creek Valley. It is a large, limestone overhang located in the Dubois Ranger District of the Caribou-Targhee National Forest (Arkush 2017, at 10-CL-23) This unique site was considered by people such as Robert Butler who headed the initial research. This research documented the existence of traditional deposits that went to a maximum depth of 5 meters.

The events of the research have led to the discovering of the presence of various layers and sub-layers at depths of up to 2 meters that datebetween ca. 3645 B.C. and 1620 A.D. Some of the items found in the process include stone and bonetools and ornaments. By research, this paper aims to present important information concerning prehistoric subsistence practices. With a special emphasis on recovered faunal remains from Cottontail Rockshelter, site number 10-CL-23 from the depth of 0-200 cm during the 2016 field excavation conducted by Dr. Arkush at Weber State University, (Arkush 2017).


Idaho’s environment has a rich ecological variety. The main ecosystems of forest comprise Grand Fir Forest, the Cedar-Hemlock Pine, Douglas Fir, Ponderosa, andSpruce-Firforests. (Daubenmire 1975:301), (Sampson et al. 1994:5). As the north portion of the region is dominated by forests, much of the south part isconcealed by sagebrush, scattered with islands from desert and shrubland. Most parts in the region are almost primeval and comprise a few of the biggest parts in the US deprived of paved roads. (Sampson et al. 1994). In Prehistoric and early historic times, Idaho was home to bison, pronghorn deer, bighorn sheep, foxes, coyotes, wolves, grizzly bears, rabbits, and a variety of small rodents, just to name a few. Important fish species consisted primarily of salmon and steelheads. (Hessburg and James 2003:27)

Idaho has a diverse geological landscape comprised of mountains, hills, plains, and volcanic areas in the same state. Because of this the climate varies throughout the state, depending on the time of year and altitude. (Hessburg and James 2003:279). This makes it a unique place for the animals, plants and humans that have lived there since it has bountiful resources and challenges from the available agriculture and imposed weather changes. (Hessburg and James 2003:23).


Idaho forests are home to many wildlife species, animals extending from thebald eagle to pygmy shrews and hummingbirds. Threatened species are also presentin Idaho, for instance, bears, Canada lynx and wolves.

Amongst reptiles,and amphibians, there are birds that thrive in the areaconsist of common loons, harlequin ducks, black-backed woodpecker, flammulated owl andthe Peregrine falcon. The region’sgreatest iconic mammals consist of Townsend bat, bog lemming, wolverine and fisher.

At Cottontail Rockshelter from sites 10-CL-13 and 10-CL-10, an abundance of faunal remains have been recovered. Below is a compilation of the most important animal taxa for aboriginal peoples of eastern Idaho. (Arkush 2017:26)


Ruffed grouse (Bonasaumbellus)

Blue grouse (Dendragapus obscurus)

Sage grouse (Centrocercusurophasinanus)

Black-billed magpie (Pica pica)

American Crow (Corbusbrachyrhynchos)

Long-eared owl (Asiootus)




Small and Medium Mammals

Pocket gopher (Thomomys sp.)

Wood rat (Neotoma sp.)

Jumping mouse (Zapus sp.)

Ground squirrel (Spermophilus sp.)

American pika (Ochotona princeps)

Marmot (Marmota sp.)

Cottontail rabbit (Sylvilagus sp.)

Pygmy rabbit (Brachylagusidahoensis)

White-tailed jackrabbit (Lepus townsendii)

Striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis)

Porcupine (Erethizondorsatum)

Beaver (Castor canadensis)

American badger (Taxideataxus)

Fox (Vulpes sp.)

Weasel (Mustela sp.)

Bobcat (Lynx rufus)

Coyote (Canislatrans)

Wolf (Canis lupus)

Large Mammals

Mountain lion (FelisConcolor)

Black bear (Ursusamericanus)

Grizzly Bear (Ursusarctos)

Pronghorn antelope (Antilocapraamericana)

Bighorn sheep (Oviscanadensis)

Mule deer (Odocoileushemionus)

Elk (Cervuselaphus)

Bison (Bison bison)

Grizzly Bear(Ursusarctos ssp.)

This is a species of brown bear, that has the biggestvariety and migration of all otherbears. Nevertheless, the bear variety is threatened in the continental US, as well as in Idaho. In pre-historic times there is evidence to suggest that Grizzly Bears had higher population numbers due to the lack of de-forestation happening during that time. (Grub 2005:76)


The pronghorn was prominent throughout Idaho during prehistoric times. They are identified by distinct white markings on their face and rear. As well as medium length horns that are seasonally shed and break off into thick prongs. The prong on their horns is distinctly different from the more common, white tailed deer. (Grub 2005:101)


Rabbits are an abundant and important species to Idaho’s ecosystem, marauders like badgers, coyotes, raptors, weasels, humans, and disease and loss of habitat have depressed its figures in the past. Today they are considered a troublesome species in Idaho and are overpopulating. Due to the decline in marauders from the loss of their own habitat and a decline in human use of rabbits.The most common are the distinct Blacktail Jackrabbit (Lepus californicus) which is most prevalent in the Snake River Plains and the Cottontail (Sylvilagus), which is abundant throughout Idaho. (Franzen 1981:12). It is a common belief that rabbits are rodents, but they stand alone in their own order, namedLagomorpha and are considered relatives of rodents, but they are not under the order Rodentiawhich classifies the common idea of a ‘rodent’.

The Pygmy rabbit (Brachylagusidahoensis) is a native species of Idaho which recently is an issue of anxiety amongst wildlife environmentalists in the region since it is somewhat rare in the state. The pygmy rabbit is the tiniest among all rabbit and hare species, measuring about 9.5 to 11.5 inches in length and weigh less than 1 lb. They have slate gray skin, short white ears, and a small tail. The Pygmy rabbit digs its own warrens and they are herbivores that rely on food like sagebrush. (Reeder 2005:15).

Bison(Bison bison)

They are herbivores that eat simple food. They usually rest in the daytime and graze during the morning and evening. Their main food is sedge and grass, although they may eat any accessible shrubbery. During winter, they feed on grass that is underneath snow. If thepetite grass is accessible, they feed on twigs from shrubs. The Bison are outstandingly superior browsers than livestock, as livestock are obliging grazers, although the wood bison is also said to be “oblige grazers”. The Wisent feed on shrubs and trees more often than American bison thathas a preference on grass to trees(Wilson,2005:33).

Bighorn sheep (Oviscanadensis)

This is a sheep species that is named due to its big horns. The horns weigh up to 30 lb, whereas the mature rams weigh about 300 lb. Their color ranges from light brown to gray to chocolate brown. The male sheep have big horn cores, engorged corneal and front sinus, and interior skeletal septa. The adaptations protect the wits by sucking up theimpact of rattles. They contain periorbital glands in the frontal corner of their eyes, inguinal glands in their groin, and the pedal glands on their feet. Excretions from the glands can upkeep their behavioral dominance, (Ruckstuhl, 1998:44)


Idaho is abundant in floral resources that support its ecosystem.Herbivore diets comprisegrass seeds, rush seeds, bark, twigs, fruits, flowers, sedge fruits, buds, and leaves. There is a fondness for lesser material: stems, twigs, and branches up to 6.4mm. Leporids, as well as the cottontails, usually arecoprophagous, generating two kinds of fecal bits, whereby one is eaten. The digestion of the bitsprominentlyupsurges the dieteticworth of nutritional items.(Paradiso, John L. 1983:4).

Below is a comprised list of local fauna of Eastern Idaho. (Lehman handout)


Limber pine (Pinusflexilis)

Douglas-fir (Pseudotsugamenziesii)

Curl-leaf mountain mahogany (Cercocarpusledifolius)Shrubs

Black sagebrush (Artemisia nova)

Low sagebrush (Artemisia arbuscular ssp. Arbuscular)

Wyoming big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentate ssp. Wyomingensis)

Mountain big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentate ssp. vaseyana)

Yellow rabbitbrush(Chrysothamnusviscidiflorus)

Spineless horsebrush(Tetradymiacanescens)

Wax currant (Ribescereum)


Bluebunch wheatgrass (Pseudoroegneriaspicata)

Idaho fescue (Festucaidahoensis)

Sandberg bluegrass (Poasecunda)

Stipa comate (Hesperostipacomata)

Spike fescue (Leucopoakingii)

Prairie junegrass(Koeleriamacrantha)

Indian ricegrass(Achnatherumhymenoides)


Tapertip onion (Allium acuminatum)

Prickly sandwort (Arenariacongesta)

Milkvetch (Astragalus spp.)

Bastard toadflax (Comandraumbellata)

Granite prickly phlax(Linanthuspungens)

Western stoneseed (Lithospermumruderale)


Spiny phlox (Phlox hoodii)

Mat rockspirea (Petrophytumcaespitosum)

Nothwesternindian paintbrush (Castillejaangustifolia)

Douglas-fir (Pseudotsugamenziesii)

The Douglas-fir tree is the most prevalent forest type of Idaho. It is distributed through the western United states and Canada. It is identified by its compact, conical crown with dense side branches. Like all fur trees, the Douglas-fir has needles instead of leaves and uses cones to reproduce. These needles vary, but average about 1.5 inches long that spread in all directions from the branch. Young bark is smooth and gray, as they mature the bark darkens and becomes furrowed. The species is known for fast growth which combats de-forestation and wildfire losses. Mature fir trees average around 100 feet tall and 3 feet in diameter but can get as tall as 150 feet tall, if given the time and space to grow. (Idaho Forest Products Commission 2017:2)

Indian Ricegrass (Achnatherumhymenoides)

Indian Ricegrass(Achnatherumhymenoides) is a species of grass that is highly usable and nutritious to herbivores, birds and rodents who collect it for winter storage. This is why it is now domestically grown for modern livestock, but also supported large mammals in the area that allowed them to remain in the eastern Idaho region. It is well adapted to sandy soils that encompass the region and is hardy enough to endure the sometimes harsh climate. It does not fare well with some invading and more aggressive grasses. Although it thrives around Snake River wheatgrass. (Roemer and Barkworth 2012:99)


Eastern Idaho is home to the Snake River Plain land that stretches about 400 miles. It is a depression that has surrounding mountains, and features three major volcanos.Idaho is a place with rocky and grass plains, as well as prehistoric and historic volcanic activity that has shaped the land (fig. 1). Because of this the area is rich with Basalt and Obsidian. (Kuntz et al. 1982:3) This area has a long history of human occupation, including modern day, this area is where most of Idaho’s major cities are housed due to the agricultural availability of the land. (Smith 1994) The topography of Idaho has remained unchanged for thousands of years, but the climate remains in flux.

Figure 1. Shows a topographic map of Eastern Idaho in relation to plateaus, plains and volcanic fields. (Kuntz et al. 1982)


The Columbia Plateau is an extensive stretch of sagebrush, concealed volcanic grasslands, and valleys, interspersed by secluded mountain ranges and rivers covering 301,329 km2, the Plateauexpansesthrough the sagebrush plain of southern Idaho, linking the Columbia Basin and Oregon to the northern Great Basin of Nevada, Utah, and California. Nationaldepiction in the ecoregion varieswith Oregon beingwith thebiggest percentage of the region at 32%, followed narrowly by Idaho. Altitudesrange fromas of near sea level at the westedge of the ecoregion to above 3000 meters on the uppermost mountain crests. Itrains on a deterioratingslope from west to east by forest vegetation being sustained only at greater heights. In rain shadows of mountain ranges, there are alkali deserts which get less than 15 cm of rain yearly. Geographically and environmentally speaking, most of the ecoregion has fairlycurrent origins that date backmillion years to the Pleistocene. (“Colombia – World Travel Guide”, 2017)


BisonRockshelter andVeratic Rockshelter are the most significant archaeological sites found within theBirch Creek area. Veratic Rockshelter liesto the North. Theserockshelters were discoveredin the course of the Birch Creek Archaeology Project that revealed 136 archaeology sites, as well as 4 circular rock arrangements, 77 Rockshelters, 1 “tipi ring,” and 54 campsites (Swanson and Bryan 1964). The geographical formation of theserockshelters was started by the erosion of Birch Creek as it streamedagainst the rock surface during the late Pleistocene period. These shelters were formed to their present-day size by the method of insolation, hoarfrost, weathering, and physical failure. They were in the end partially occupied by alluvial fan sediments (Swanson 1972:2).

The projects done by Earl H. Swanson Jr.aimed to examine his theories about the early history of the Shoshoneanspeaking people of the Northern Rocky Mountains. Hesupposed that the distribution of Shoshoneanlanguages could be possibly explained as moving south and westward out of the Rocky Mountains in addition to diverging from dialects scattering to the north and eastwards from the Great Basin (Butler 1981:51). There existsarchaeologicalproof of persistent human occupation, between Bison and VeraticRockshelters, (fig. 2) as early as 11,000 yearsago (Butler 1981:10). Preliminary, work in the valley region was started with an archaeological survey in 1958 that led to the rockshelterexcavationsin the course of field periods between 1960 and 1961 (Swanson 1972:8).

Fig. 2 Shows Bison and VeraticRockshelters on a topographical map of Eastern Idaho (Reid 2017)


The contact period of aboriginal American communities of Idaho included the Sheep-eaters, Bannock, Lemhi, Nez Perce, inhabiting hunting fields in river valleys. Boise Shoshone and the Bannack communities dwelt in thesouth of Idaho and were divisively called “Snakes” or the “Diggers” by early Anglos. Nowadays, many of them live in Fort Hall since being uprooted by the Anglos, in eastern Idaho. Ancient archives disclose that through breaking of legal treaties by the US government, the Native Americans of this region never extinguished their ownership of the lands that sustained them for centuries. (Butler, B. Robert,1981:22)

The Lemhi valley does not contain the high, rugged terrain and deep canyons that comprise other areas of Idaho, making it a favorable area for human occupation. Shoshone and some Bannock had established large villages along the Lemhi river. According to reports by Lewis and Clark’s time in the area in 1806, the Native Americans here seemed stable. The people were fed and organized under chiefdoms. (Steward 1938: 187). The Native American early history of Shoshone and Bannock community, who were migratory, early hunters and gatherers stayed for long periods of time in rockshelters, caverns, foothill regions, and close mountains as proof from the sites show. Native people voyaged lengthy distances from other regions through the Boise valley and the riverfront searching for enough food, hot fountains (volcanically warmed water sources) and sacred ritual lands. The holy site (Table Rock), was a ritual plateau with hot fountains on all parts, as well as the Castle Rock creation, was used as a resting place for their descendants. These lands once offered venues for ameeting of numerous tribes. Currently, this early history and its artifacts were being exposed in an untraditional way – haphazard growth of the lands through European contact in the 19th century, have exposed valuable early artifacts, that were never recorded and lost to history (Victor,1890:1).

In 1863, Mormon settlers moved into the area and pushed what was left of the Natives out of their traditional homelands. This forced some to retreat and live off of government given rations.Some tribes like the Bannock and Shoshone continued to hunt, gather resources and live alongside the rivers for a time. Almost all was put to an end with the conclusion of the Fort Hall reservation. With the rising hostility of European and Mormon settlers, most Native Americans were forced onto the reservation. Their lives had been uprooted and culture virtually stopped. Since, it was now even too dangerous to hunt and gather for themselves. There were still small bands of Native Americans who were still fighting the settlers (Murphy & Murphy, 1986:44).


Idaho was among the last areas of the continental United States to be thoroughly explored by the Europeans.It is said that the first Europeanvoyageto enter south Idaho was a group led by Wilson Price in 1811that steered Snake River whiletrying to find an all water pathin thewest from St. Luisain Missouri, up to Astoria in Oregon. During that period, Native Americans stayed in the area. (Victor,1890:32). Trading of fur causeda majorand importantintrusion of Europeans into the area. A.Henry of Missouri company of fur first went to the plateau of Snake River in 1810. He thenconstructed Fort Henry on the upper part of Snake River, closeto current St. Anthony. Nonetheless, this initial American fur pole west of Rocky Mountains becamedesertedduring spring.(Victor,1890:172). British company owned by Hudson Bay thenarrived in Idaho and regulated trade in Snake River by 1820s. Mackenzie was appointed thehead of the newly formed North West Company of Columbia in 1816, he had been hired by Hudson Bay and was also a colleague in Pacific Fur Company. He wasbeingengaged in the earlysurvey of Salmon and Clearwater Rivers. Led by Mackenzie, the North West Company became aleadingpower in the trade of fur in Snake River country. Fort Nez, which wasfounded in July 1818, was the performanceoutlet for Mackenzie’sSnake groups. The 1818 to 1819 voyagewas tothe Blue Mountains, and toured down Snake River to Bear River they thenloomed the headwaters of Snake. Mackenzie pursued to create a maneuverableway up Snake River starting Fort Nez to the Boise in the year 1819. Despite the fact that he succeeded in rowingin aboatfrom Columbia River tothe Grand Canyon which proceeds Hells Canyon, he settled that water conveyance was in generalunreasonable. (Victor,1890:77). Regardless of their unsurpassed efforts, the early American fur corporations in the region had troublemaintaining the long-distancesupply lines from Missouri River into the intermountain.Nevertheless, Americans H. Ashley and Smith extended the St Louis fur tradeto Idaho in the year1824.

The trapper’s engagement at Pierre’s Hole, organized at the base of Three Tetons in present Teton County in the year 1832, was followed by a battle amid GrosVentre and an enormoustroopof the American trappers helped by their friends from Nez Perce and Flathead.

The view of missionary vocationamongst Native Americans enticed early immigrantsinto the region. During 1809, the Kullyspell House was built. It was the first establishment owned by whites and the first trading post in Idaho. In 1836, Rev. Henry organized a Protestant delegation nearby Lapwai, there he publishedthe first book of Northwest, founded Idaho’s first school, industrialized its initial irrigation scheme, and cultivated the region’s first potatoes. Whitman and Spalding became the first non-native women to go incurrent Idaho. (Fisher, Vardis, Federal Writers’ Project,1938:22.). The Cataldo Mission, which is the oldest standing structure in Idaho, was built at Cataldo by Coeur d’Alene and Catholic activists. During 1842, Father Pierre, Fr. Nicholas and Br. Charles, picked a mission site along River St. Joe. In 1846 the mission was laterrelocated a small distance awaysince theinitial location was laid open to flooding, Antonio Ravalli created a new mission structure in 1850 and Indians allied with efforts of the churchconstructed the mission, minus nails, they used the wattle and daub technique. With time, the mission was avital stopoverfor traders, immigrants, and mineworkers. The mission presented needed supplies and becamea working harbor for boats proceeding up River Coeur d’Alene.

During this period, the area which later became Idaho was called Oregon Country, claimed by both United States and theGreat Britain. The US got unquestionabledominion over the area in the Oregon Treaty that was enacted in 1846, even though the region lied in the de facto authority of the Oregon government, as of the years 1843 to 1849. The initial boundaries of theterritory of Oregon in 1848 involved thethree current Pacific Northwest states and the Continental Divide. During 1853, regions north of 46th Parallel turn out to be Washington Territory, dividing what is today Idaho into two. The prospect state was reunified in 1859 when Oregon came to be a state and the borders of the Washington Territory were drawn again. (Cornelius James Brosnan,1918). Whereas thousands wentvia Idaho on the Oregon Trailthroughout the California Gold Rush in 1849, a small number ofpersonssettled there. The first of numerous gold rushesin Idaho started at Pierce in the county of Clearwater in 1860. By 1862, neighborhoods in both north and thesouth were formed nearby the mining boom. (Pocatello, Idaho 1993:10).


During the ethnographic period, the hunter-gatherer Shoshone groups of Eastern Idaho used animals as food and resource items. They tried to use every single body part possible. This includes meat for food, fur for clothing and warmth, bone could be used for food, weapons, tools and jewelry. Cottontail Shelter contained a well-preserved and diverse faunal assemblage, which provides evidence of ancient hunting and preparation techniques(Arkush 2017).

The site is abundant in large mammal, small mammal, and Artiodactyl remains. It is likely that most of the small mammal remains are naturally deposited from rodents. Most cataloged are intact pieces consisting of ulnas, radius, scapulae, mandibles, teeth, vertebrae, ribs and metapodials. A small number are likely to be food related lagomorph remains. There are no small mammal remains until 50-60 cm in depth. They are very abundant between 60-70 and120-130 cm before they nearly disappear again. The entire assemblage from 10-CL-23 totals 6,184 remains. NISP values are shown in Table 1 below.

Types of Fracturing


Bison are known to be a high value food item for ancient humans as well as a formidable challenge to hunt. Through levels 0-40 cm there is no clear evidence of bison remains. In the 50-60 cm level the first identifiable bison bone emerges as a first phalanx (toe bone). In 60-70 cm, a rib was found, one level lower in 70-80 cm followed an astragalas. The most abundant level was at 80-90 cm which includes a long bone fragment, possible juvenile metapodial, third phalanx, second phalanx, and one large, intact tooth. The assemblage of bison remains at Cottontail Rockshelter 10-CL-23 consists of 9 confirmed bison remains in only 40 cm of sediments. Bighorn Sheep

Large Mammal

The large mammal faunal assemblage consists of 1,491 long and flat bone fragments from different stratigraphic levels. At the upper levels between 0-50 cm there are only 4 specimens. The first is a burnt long bone fragment followed by three others that are not burnt but, show evidence of spiral fracturing. After 50 cm the density grows with 13 being the lowest at 180-190 cm and 453 fragments at the 110-120 cm level.

74 bones in the assemblage consist of identifiable species or identifiable origin parts consisting of Bison and Big horn sheep. The origin parts include herbivore teeth, cranial fragments, scapula, phalanges, femur, ribs, radius, ulna, juvenile phalanges and an inner ear fragment. The rest of the assemblage is only identifiable as long bone and flat bone, some are burnt and have evidence of a few cut marks and rodent chewing interference. The rest are highly fragmented and most show spiral fractures which indicates human use.

Medium MammalIdentifiable medium mammal remains consisted of a single carnivore tooth found at 90-100 cm. This specimen could have been naturally deposited, it’s small size could indicate a fox or a young feline or canid species. Since it stands alone there isn’t much evidence to make a proper assessment but there is a rather large assemblage of medium to large mammal bone fragments (321) at the same level that could indicate decomposition since teeth are the strongest bone in the mammal body, it could have preserved better than the rest.

Medium to Large Mammal

Under the medium-large mammal remain category, there are 3,680 remains of long and flat bone fragments. This assemblage is highly fragmentary. This could indicate a high rate of human use of these animals or decomposition. In the assemblage there are 88 burnt fragments, 4 show clear cut marks, 1 juvenile specimen, 6 cranial fragments and some evidence of spiral fractures.

Lagomorph There are no clear and identifiable lagomorph bones found at this site, but many possibilities. Including a scapula, and pelvis fragment found between 90 and 120 cm. They are too large to be an average rodent, but a little too small to belong to a hare. Idaho has its own species of pygmy rabbit (Brachylagusidahoensis) that they could belong to, but they are not intact enough to identify with confidence. Since some of the small mammal remains are burnt (6) this would indicate that they are most likely Lagomorph, not rodent.

Rodent There is one identifiable rodent bone by species. Which is a proximal rodent ulna fragment found at level 170-180 cm. There are likely around 800 rodent bones from this site but, they are under the small mammal category since the exact species is unidentifiable. Most of these remains are likely to be natural deposits from burrowing. This is indicated by gnaw marks on larger bones and rodents natural behavior and habitats.

Small Mammal The small mammal assemblage is diverse and many of the bones are intact, but identifiable as to their species. Only three bones are found from level 0-50 cm. Which are a radius and two skull fragments. At the 50-60 cm level there are 15 specimens found, the highest being 221 at 110-120 cm and the next lowest being 3 and 150-160 cm.

It is highly likely that the majority of these bones are natural deposits considering the amount of gnaw marks on large mammal bones at the same levels and the small amount of burnt bones. These assemblages consist of; cranial fragments, mandibles, teeth, radius, ulna, vertebrae, humorous, one scapulae and unidentifiable fragments. There is one larger scapula that is most likely Lagomorph, but the rest are is a mixture of small rodents.

Small mammals could be used as food items but, there were not ideal since their small size could not feed one man for a day, let alone many. Although, in desperate or opportune times they would be utilized for food, fur, and sometimes ornaments.

Bird There are 47 bird bones in total mostly consisting of long bone fragments. There is no direct evidence of human interaction with the bird bones, as in none are burnt or show cut marks. It is likely that these remains were also naturally deposited to the site. The highest abundance is from level 80-90 (6) to 110-120 cm (13).


Based on the values stated on the NISP values (Table 1) there is clear evidence of human occupation at Cottontail Shelter based on the faunal assemblage alone. Between 0-50 cm there are only 7 bones found. At 50-60 cm the number raises to 34 and at 60-70 it jumps to 296 bones recovered. Those numbers remain steady and continue to increase with the most dense and diverse level being at 110-120 cm with 1,529 recoveries. After this level the numbers slowly start to decline with 170-180 cm being the last abundant level with 71 found. After this, 180-190 brought up 13, 190-200 raised 11.

References Cited

Arkush, Brooke S.

2017 Progress report for the 2014-2016 Excavations at Cottontail Rock Shelter on the Caribou- Targhee National Forest in Eastern Idaho

Nowak, Ronald M.; Paradiso, John L.

1983 Walker’s mammals of the world. 4th edition. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press

Chapman, Joseph A.; Hockman, J. Gregory; Ojeda C.; Magaly M

1980 Sylvilagusfloridanus”(PDF). Mammalian Species. 136 (136): 1– 8. JSTOR 3504055. Doi:10.2307/3504055.

Dalke, Paul D.; Sime, Palmer R

1941 Food habits of the eastern and New England cottontails. Journal of Wildlife Management. 5 (2): 216–228. JSTOR 3795589. doi:10.2307/3795589

Godin, Alfred J.

1977 Wild mammals of New England. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University


Swanson, Earl H. Jr. and Alan Lyle Bryan1964 Birch Creek Papers No.1 An Archaeological Reconnaissance in the Birch Creek Valley of Eastern Idaho. Occasional Papers of the Idaho State University Museum, No. 13

Swanson, Earl H. Jr.1972 Birch Creek: Human Ecology in the Cool Desert of The Northern Rocky Mountains 9,000 B.C. – A.D. 1850. Idaho State University Press. Pocatello. 

Butler, B. Robert1981 When did the Shoshoni Begin to Occupy Southern Idaho?: Essays on Late Prehistoric Cultural Remains from the Upper Snake and Salmon River country. Occasional Papers of the Idaho Museum of Natural History, No. 32

Pocatello, Idaho

1993 Field and Laboratory Analysis Procedures. Department of Anthropology Miscellaneous Paper No. 92-1 (revised). Idaho Museum of Natural History

Cornelius James Brosnan

1918 History of the state of Idaho

Faust, Albert Bernhardt

1909 The German Element in the United States with Special Reference to Its Political, Moral, Social, and Educational Influence, Boston: Houghton-MifflinFisher, Vardis, Federal Writers’ Project

1938. Idaho Encyclopedia. Caldwell, Idaho: Caxton Printers, Ltd. OCLC 962624. Beal, Merrill D.; Merle W. Wells

1953 History of Idaho. New York: Lewis Historical Pub. Co. OCLC 6565869.

Frances Fuller Victor

1890  History of Washington, Idaho and Montana : 1845-1889. San Francisco: History Co. OCLC 9291580.

Hope A. Benedict

1992  Idaho’s Governors. Boise, Idaho: College of Social Sciences and Public Affairs, Boise State University. ISBN 0-932129-13-7.

Dale, Harrison Clifford, 

1918 The Ashley-Smith Explorations and the Discovery of A Central Route to the Pacific, 1822-1829. Cleveland: Arthur H. Clark, 1918.

Ruckstuhl, K. E.

1998 “Foraging behaviour and sexual segregation in bighorn sheep”. Animal Behaviour. 56: 96–106. 

Wilson, D.E.

Reeder, D.M., eds. Mammal Species of the World: A Tax…

Deadline is approaching?

Wait no more. Let us write you an essay from scratch

Receive Paper In 3 Hours
Calculate the Price
275 words
First order 10%
Total Price:
$10.99 $35.97
Calculating ellipsis
Hire an expert
This discount is valid only for orders of new customer and with the total more than 25$
This sample could have been used by your fellow student... Get your own unique essay on any topic and submit it by the deadline.

Find Out the Cost of Your Paper

Get Price