Site 5GN149, CO

Site 5GN149, CO




Judith R. Cooper


            5GN149 is a high-elevation surface lithic scatter located in the Gunnison Basin, CO. The site presently lies within Curecanti National Recreation Area and falls under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service. QUEST first conducted a brief field investigation at the site in the summer of 2002. The site was then investigated more extensively by QUEST during the summers of 2003 and 2004.

            5GN149 sits on a topographic high point directly above the Gunnison River valley. The site covers approximately 3500 m2 and consists of a widely dispersed scatter of flaked stone artifacts on the surface. Within the larger scatter, eight hot spots have been identified. These areas have been differentiated from the rest of the site based on a substantial increase in the density of visible lithic artifacts within relatively tightly clustered spatial units. The majority of the flaked stone artifacts at 5GN149 are made from locally available high-quality quartzite. In fact, large quartzite cobbles can be found eroding out of the slope directly below the site.

            Thousands of lithic artifacts were mapped and collected from the surface at 5GN149. Given the sheer quantity of visible surface artifacts, a 7cm size cut-off was implemented during collection. Tools and other potentially diagnostic artifacts were also collected. Additionally, in order to learn more about lithic technology at 5GN149, two dense chipping clusters were mapped and collected. These clusters were intensively sampled and thus no size cut-off was used. Subsurface testing was also conducted at 5GN149 in order to ensure that the deposit was restricted to the surface. In all cases, there was a drastic drop-off in artifact density after the first 5cm of excavation.

            Complete analysis of the 5GN149 lithic assemblage is currently underway. Additionally, refitting is being attempted on artifacts collected from within Chipping Cluster 1. So far, dozens of successful refits have been found.

            Given the size of the artifacts, the paucity of tools, and proximity of a raw material source, 5GN149 appears to have been used as a lithic quarry and workshop. The site was probably used multiple times throughout prehistory, though very few diagnostics have been found. QUEST initially interpreted the site as a possible Clovis workshop, due to the presence of large, thin bifaces, overshot flakes, and blades. To date, no diagnostic Clovis artifacts have been found. A Late Paleoindian point base was found in the far western end of the site. Additionally, several small points which appear Late Prehistoric in age were found in various areas of the site. Additional technological analysis and refitting will hopefully reveal spatial separation of different occupation events. 

Map Gallery


·         All mapped surface items (click here)

·         General surface collection (click here)

·         Artifact hot spots (click here)

·         Excavated units (click here)

·         Intensive surface collection of clusters and units (click here)

·         3-D view of site with mapped artifacts and hot spots (click here)