Lincoln County Archaeological Initiative

Jesse Adams, M.A., RPALogan Simpson Design environmental consultants are currently conducting a number of long-term, research-driven inventory projects for the Bureau of Land Management in Lincoln County, Nevada.

As part of a sample archaeological inventory near Delamar Lake, LSD has developed a GIS predictive model to help identify high, medium, and low probability areas of cultural resources associated with the Terminal Pleistocene-Early Holocene (TPEH) transition period.

Our GIS model focuses on several critical factors likely to influence site distribution during the TPEH transition period such asproximity to high-probability landforms (lakeshores, beaches, or indented shorelines); extinct marshes or deltas; and elevated surfaces near wetlands.

Delamar Lake cultural resourcesDelamar Lake is situated within a Pleistocene pluvial lake bed and, like other nearby pluvial lake beds, is a high probability area for Paleoarchaic archaeological sites. The now arid lake would likely have supported a marsh/riparian-type ecosystem during the TPEH.

Throughout the process, our goal was to identify the TPEH, or Paleoarchaic, archaeological sites near Delamar Lake in order to establish baseline inventory data for locating TPEH-aged cultural resources in other pluvial lakebeds in Lincoln County.

The sample inventory of 2,000 acres within Delamar Valley resulted in the identification of 29 archaeological sites, including seven sites dating back to the Paleoarchaic period. The LSD GIS model was successful in identifying these sites, with the most successful criteria being the extinct drainages, the dry playa lake level, and projected past lake extents. Landforms visible on aerial photographs and satellite imagery were not initially included in the original GIS model, but their later inclusion resulted in a high success rate for identifying these TPEH-aged sites.

Central to the findings by our environmental consultants is the work by researchers Elston and Zeanah (2002) used to address Paleoarchaic forager’s occupation strategies within the valley. Zeanah and Elston argue that TPEH-aged sites will more frequently be located within landscape contexts favorable for accessing low-ranking, but reliable, women’s resources. Moreover, the artifact assemblages will reflect the tool technology associated with high-ranking, but less reliable, men’s resources.

Nevada cultural resourcesLandscape level interpretations within Delamar Valley are consistent with those made by Elston and Zeanah. Additionally, the Delamar Valley sites contain toolstone artifacts reflective of male-based activities such as tool manufacture, retooling, and hunting. However, we’ve found that the sites are situated near wetland settings; affording access to more female-based resource patches (lake shore/marsh areas). With this information, we can now discern that male-based hunting groups most likely traveled from semi-permanent camps situated near wetlands to lithic sources outside the valley.

Not only is this data being used to help the BLM and Lincoln County plan for and manage these rare Nevada cultural resources, but the results of the inventory are also helping us clarify our understanding of settlement and subsistence practices during the late Pleistocene period in the Great Basin.