2002 Denver Annual Meeting (October 27-30, 2002)

Paper No. 3
Presentation Time: 2:00 PM


MANDEL, Rolfe D., Kansas Geological Survey, Univ of Kansas, 1930 Constant Avenue, Lawrence, KS 66047-3726 and HOFMAN, Jack L., Anthropology Department, Univ of Kansas, Fraser Hall, Lawrence, KS 66045, mandel@kgs.ku.edu

A geomorphological investigation was conducted at the Winger site (14ST401), a deeply buried Late Paleoindian bison bone bed in southwestern Kansas. The bone bed is exposed in a cutbank of Bear Creek located adjacent to a large playa. The exposed portion of the bone bed is about 25 cm thick, 36 m long, and 265-290 deep. The upper 252 cm of the section consists of silty, loamy, and fine-sandy alluvium that has been slightly modified by soil development. The surface soil has an A-C profile, and a buried soil 165-252 cm below surface has a weakly expressed AB-Bw-Bk profile. Although the age of the alluvial fill is unknown, it probably is less than 3,000 years old based on the soil evidence at the site and radiocarbon chronologies for similar alluvial fills in southwestern Kansas. The late Holocene alluvium overlies a dark gray soil with an Ak-Btk-BCk profile developed in fine-grained playa deposits. The bison bone bed is in the 2Btkb2 horizon of this buried soil. Bones are commonly fractured in place, apparently by pressure and mechanical weathering, but bone surfaces are in generally good condition with minimal root etching and rare carnivore gnawing. These factors suggest rapid and fairly deep burial of the bone bed. Collagen from a sample of bison rib-blade fragments yielded a radiocarbon age of 9,080+/-90 yr B.P.

Excavation of 9 m2 of the bone bed yielded two Allen projectile points, one complete and the other a basal segment. A biface and many flakes were also found. Radiocarbon ages date the Allen/Frederick artifact assemblage to 7,800-9,400 yr B.P. Hence, the radiocarbon age determined on bone from Winger is consistent with the chronology of the diagnostic artifacts associated with the bone bed.

In sum, current evidence indicates that the Winger site is a Late Paleoindian bone bed that represents a bison kill. Archaeological and geomorphic investigations will continue at the site to gain a better understanding of the origin, taphonomy, size, and geologic context of the bone bed.