Archaeology Up Close: Field Trip to the Northern Great Basin Connley Caves

Eugene/Springfield—Dr. Dennis L. Jenkins, senior research archaeologist for the UO Museum of Natural and Cultural History and recent OLLI speaker, will conduct a 1.5 hour walking tour of the University of Oregon’s Archaeological Field School at Connley Caves. The site is composed of eight caves and rock shelters located in the Connley Hills of the Fort Rock basin 10 miles south of the town of Fort Rock. Material there has been radiocarbon dated to as much as 13,000 years ago. Dr. Jenkins will tell us what is known about each cave and answer questions as they come up.

The Connley Caves are very deep, requiring meticulous excavation, note taking, and field form recording procedures. Jenkins works closely with all students and will discuss site formation processes, sampling techniques, local archaeology, and the study of first colonization of the New World. Perishable artifacts were recovered during the 2001 field season. Archaeology course activities include instruction in excavation and survey techniques as well as archaeological record keeping and artifact processing in the field laboratory. Survey methods include development of observation skills, map reading, GPS usage, and note taking. The setting in the Northern Great Basin offers a rich environment for studying late Quaternary climatic and hydrologic changes and the effects of these changes on vegetation cover, geomorphic processes, and soil development. In addition, the region has experienced the effects of volcanic eruptions, faulting, and wind action.

Since the location is carefully controlled and participants need to be able to see and hear activities underway, registration will be limited to 20 OLLI participants. Participants will travel in private vehicles (detailed driving directions will be provided). Estimated travel time to Fort Rock is two hours 40 minutes—142 miles—then a short distance to the caves. Carpooling may be arranged by trip coordinators.

According to Jenkins, “Portions of the tour may be a challenge for some folks, but most can make it up the slopes with a little help and caution. There is something for everyone.” He recommends wearing comfortable walking shoes or boots, bringing plenty of water, sun protection, snacks, and lunch.

Registration will be available Friday, June 16–Friday, July 14, or until the trip is filled. Members may register with the Academic Extension office by phone, 541-346-0697, or in person. Online registration will also be available. Look for more information and an online registration link in upcoming e-minders.