A few days ago, I attended the free Recent Advances at High Elevation Archaeology Symposium held at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody. It was very interesting, although I have to admit that some things went over my head since I’ve only had a basic archaeology course several years ago. I found myself wishing for some of my textbooks to look up terms.
I did enjoy it. We tend to think about archaeology being done on the plains or in the desert, a flat “easy” place and forget that there’s just as much to be found and explored in the mountains. After all, a number of us live in or close to the mountains and many enjoy recreation in them – why not previous inhabitants?
If we do think about mountain archaeology, we don’t think about everything that goes into it: packing everything in in wilderness areas and then back out; doing as much as possible in the good summer weather between snows; the possibility of fire and vandals destroying or damaging sites and caches; funding; etc. But the ice can help make up for other things by keeping items well-preserved. And even fires can be a blessing by bringing new items closer to the surface.
So even though I didn’t understand all the details, I understood the importance of the big picture. And it gives us all a lot to consider about our past and how we view it.