Archaeology at the Springs Preserve: The Spring Mound

Archaeology at the Springs Preserve: The Spring Mound


♪ ♪ What we have is
very unique resource here at the Springs Preserve,
in the Spring Mound. And there’s probably about
27/26 or so Spring Mounds found throughout
the Las Vegas valley and to have one on our property
is a special and unique situation. And it loomed even larger
in the life of this environment when it was a burden
and spring-fed setting. Because they were a
source of water, there was a lot of
attraction to animals, a lot of attraction to people
to these Spring Mounds. So, there was always a lot
of cultural activity not just by people but also
by animals and plant growth. And so, there was quite an attraction
to bring people to these Spring Mounds. Still today, the surroundings are rich
with evidence of the Spring Mounds’ role as a hunting
and picnic ground practically paved with pieces
of tools and weapons pots and fire pits left behind
by historic and prehistoric Native Americans. There was activity happening on the spring down going back thousands of years all the way through probably to contact with European settlers the oldest artifacts that we’ve actually recovered from the Las Vegas Springs Preserve from our property here come from the surface of the spring mound and these are things that are mostly late archaic period but as old as the site and its artifacts are both are worth surveying for new finds again and again we’ve done surveys on the spring mounds before and like anywhere else in any sort of cultural area where people have lived for thousands of years you’re going to find artifacts on the surface and so every few years it makes sense to go back and resurvey areas that you’ve already been over because over time as rain falls as wind blows more and more artifacts become uncovered so the last time we did a full scale survey of the spring mound was probably about 2007 and so we’re looking to update our maps update our information and update the types of artifacts that we find on the spring mound here and the current survey benefited immensely because a team of eager archaeology students were able to use tried-and-true methods along with the latest technology to map the artifacts they found I’m teaching an archaeological field methods class at UNLV and mostly it’s classroom-based but we wanted to have an opportunity where we could bring the students out into the field and actually do some real archaeological work so none of the students had any experience really in the field before so this is the first time that they were able to find archaeological remains in stitches so in the ground we started off by spacing ourselves out along the edge of the this survey area here and each student had a bunch of flags in their hands so we walk across the terrain looking at the ground to see if we find anything a student just found a projectile point so an arrowhead just a few minutes ago so we’ll flag that and then what we do once we have a whole bunch of flags in the ground will use the total station up here which is basically a mapping tool so we can map in the location of each artifact that we’ve encountered in survey but this morning we found about 350 artifacts in about 20 minutes so that tells you how dense the material here is and it’s it’s it’s going to be a big job but the students are having a really good time so that’s that’s what it’s all about for the archaeologists as well the array of structures and utensils provides a rewarding view of the ancient humans who lived here the artifacts that we found during the survey or exactly what you would expect to find for from a habitation of people living in a spot for a long period of time we have projectile points of course that we found we have the harv’s the roasting pits the thermal features we also have pieces and parts of ceramics from different time periods going back to the ancestral Pueblo and all the way through to the Paiute period we also find parts of grinding stones that would have been used for processing seeds mesquite seeds mesquite pods corn any other sort of vegetable matter you would have ground into a flour we find some of those here as well but they still only scratched the surface of the spring mounts potential revelations and are hoping to dig deeper into its hidden possibilities we know that other spring mounds in the valley they found mammoth bison camel early horse have been recovered from those and we don’t exactly know how old our spring mound is we don’t exactly know if we have any of the these large megafauna that are located in there and so ultimately the survey that we’re doing now will lead us to future work hopefully some larger scale testing so we could actually do some excavations into that spring mound and answer some of those questions but for now they’re looking forward to showing these artifacts to modern visitors who will undoubtedly find in them a greater understanding of the people who used to make the spring mound one of the earliest gathering places at the preserve

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