Sites & cities that bear the name of Marmes Rockshelter

Marmes Rockshelter

Today in : United States of America
First trace of activity : 9,230 B.C.E
Last trace of activity : ca. 5,000 B.C.E
Recorded names : 45-FR-50

Description : The Marmes Rockshelter (also known as (45-FR-50)) is an archaeological site first excavated in 1962, near Lyons Ferry Park and the confluence of the Snake and Palouse Rivers, in Franklin County, southeastern Washington. This rockshelter is remarkable in the level of preservation of organic materials, the depth of stratified deposits, and the apparent age of the associated Native American human remains. The site was discovered on the property of Roland Marmes, and was the site of the oldest human remains in North America at that time. In 1966, the site became, along with Chinook Point and the American and English Camps on San Juan Island, the first National Historic Landmarks listed in Washington. In 1969, the site was submerged in water when a levee protecting it from waters rising behind the then newly constructed Lower Monumental Dam, which was 20 miles (32 km) down the Snake River, failed to hold back water that leaked into the protected area through gravel under the soil, creating Lake Herbert G. West. The excavations at the site revealed evidence of human occupation from a period that lasted 8,000 years, and that the area was home to humans as long ago as 11,230 years ago. The people living at the site hunted game such as elk and deer using atlatls, and also hunted smaller mammals such as beavers, while they gathered mussels from the river. The excavation turned up graves, which included beads carved from shells and spear points. One grave, that of a child, held five matching knives made of stone. The excavation also turned up chalcedony and chert projectile points. Those in the upper layers were made of agate, which is not found in the area. Stone tools were found as well, such as scrapers for use in tanning hides, and mortars and pestles. In layers dated to 7,000 years ago, a large number of shells belonging to a snail of the genus Olivella were found, which would have been imported from the West Coast of the United States, 200 miles (322 km) away. The majority of the shells had holes drilled through them, indicating that they had adorned necklaces. In addition, one of the five known Jefferson Peace Medals was found associated with the most recent human remains at the site, evidently having been given to a local Native American leader (presumably of the Nez Perce) during the Lewis and Clark Expedition. This medal has since been returned to the Nez Perce and reburied, as per Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act regulations. Analyzing the pollen sequences at the site showed a steppe ecosystem immediately following the retreat of glaciers 13,000 years ago, which gave way to a mixed forest of pine and spruce, which led into the current sagebrush prairie ecosystem.

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