Archaic Bison of the Southwest: Recent Explorations at the Cave Creek Midden Site, Southeastern Arizona, U.S.A.

Date and Time: 
Friday, 18 March, 2016 - 10:45
, Meredith - University of Iowa
, Francois - University of Arizona
, Jesse - Arizona Archaeological and Historical Society, Tucson
, Jonathan - City of Tucson Historic Preservation Office

The occurrence of bison at Archaic sites in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands is poorly documented, though offers profound implications for understanding environmental change and human-animal interaction during the early Late Holocene. In 2015 the Arizona Archaeological and Historical Society re-investigated the Cave Creek Midden site, the type site for the Chiricahua Stage of the Cochise Culture. This excavation revealed the presence of a large concentration of bison bone directly associated with numerous ground stone tools. Initial radiocarbon dates indicate that the bone bed began to be deposited circa 3,000 C14 B.P., during the Late Archaic period. Osteometric analyses of the bison remains reveal that they are smaller in size when compared to bison originating in the plains. This paper will use the Cave Creek Midden site as a case study to explore the nature of Archaic period bison in the borderlands, their use by people, and avenues for future research.