Plateau on the Road: Cooper’s Ferry Prehistoric Site

On Friday, July 8th,, the Plateau team (and associated family members) decided to leave the office behind and make the two-hour trek to the lower Salmon River Canyon and the Cooper’s Ferry prehistoric site (10IH73).

Cooper’s Ferry is located 12 miles south of the town of Cottonwood along the Salmon River in west-central Idaho. The site was originally excavated by B. Robert Butler in the 1960s. In 1997, Dr. Loren Davis excavated one 2×2 m test pit inside the site, finding evidence of an extremely early occupation in the form of Western Stemmed projectile points. These projectile points obtained associated radiocarbon dates of 11,370 and 11,410 radiocarbon years BP. This makes the Cooper’s Ferry site one of the oldest sites in North America! As with any groundbreaking research, this proved to be controversial, so Dr. Davis returned to the Cooper’s Ferry site in 2009 to excavate a much larger portion of the site. Since then, Cooper’s Ferry has acted as an archaeological field school for hundreds of students.

Arriving at around 10 am, the Plateau team was given a grand tour of all the current happenings at the site as well as an explanation of site formation processes by Dr. Davis. After a quick lunch stop at Pine Bar Recreation Site, the team headed back to Pullman having enjoyed the learning opportunity and time away from the office.

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