Tag Archives: Archaeology

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.

Understanding Science: Archaeology

Eugene/Springfield—The Understanding Science study group is introducing a new topic in June, based on Archaeology—An Introduction to the World’s Greatest Sites. The recorded lectures cover several well-known sites and in doing so teaches about such topics as what archaeology is, what tools are used, the discovery of new sites, and what questions are asked about origins. The DVD course was sponsored by National Geographic and taught by Eric H. Cline, PhD, The George Washington University. We will visit King Tut’s site, the Maya, the Terracotta Army, and many, many more.

Understanding Science meets at 10 a.m. on the first, third, and fifth Tuesdays of each month. Lecture topics for each session are listed in the monthly schedule (pages 8-9).

Field Trip to Fort Rock Basin and Fort Rock Cave

Central Oregon—The Fort Rock area is a unique and spectacular part of central Oregon located approximately 65 miles southeast of Bend. This trip features a tour of the Fort Rock Valley Homestead Museum which includes a reception center, artifact displays, and several buildings from the past century. We also tour the nearby Fort Rock Cave. This cave is a rich site of archaeological discovery and has yielded several 9,000 to 11,000 year-old sagebrush sandals from some of North America’s earliest inhabitants. We stop for lunch and explore the Fort Rock State Natural Area, which is an enormous near circle of volcanic rock walls that rise out of the barren, immense flatness of Oregon’s high desert.

The tour will be led by Leslie Olson, past president of the Archaeological Society of Central Oregon and an expert in her knowledge of the area.

Participants bring their own lunch, water, snacks, and hat. Museum charge is $5 at the time of preregistration. Difficult walking is not required. We meet at UO Bend Center at 8:15 a.m. and carpool to Fort Rock. A State van furnishes transportation to the cave site. Average elevation is around 4,500 feet. Preregistration begins May 25; limited to 18 participants.

Trip coordinator: Steve Hussey

History of Atlantis Story from Plato: Literal or Symbolic Story?

Central Oregon–Join one of our favorite presenters, Bob Harrison, who takes us through the history, exploration, and archaeology of the fabled island of Atlantis.

Atlantis has been the subject of historical and literary debate since Plato first brought it up in Athens in the fifth century B.C. It reflected something he overheard from his uncle Solon, the great liberal Athenian lawgiver, discussed at a symposium some years earlier. Solon had visited Egypt (a real tourist destination for Greeks and Romans) and had met with Egyptian priests at Memphis (Egypt’s northern capital), who told him the story of Atlantis from hieroglyphic inscriptions dated 10,000 years earlier (10,500 B.C.). It depicted a highly advanced civilization that traded with Egypt and had been destroyed by an apocalyptic event.

Atlantis went down under the sea never to be seen again. Since it was past the Pillars of Hercules, historians presumed it must have been in the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean, or even Brazil. The search continues in those locations. The mystic Edgar Casey had a vision it would be found at Bimini in the Bahamas. The steps found underwater at that location, however, went nowhere, like the rest of the sites.

There had always been a mythical ethos to this whole story since no recognized civilization existed as far back as Solon indicated (10,000 B.C.). Finally, it was realized that the Egyptian hieroglyphic sign for the number 100 had been mistranslated by the Greeks as 1,000. That meant that 10,000 years was really 1,000 years and that 15,000 B.C. was really 1500 B.C. and that the Pillars of Hercules was not at Gibraltar but at the Straits between the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. The only possible civilization at that location and time that met Solon’s description was that of the Minoans who inhabited Crete and the surrounding islands in the Eastern Mediterranean (Aegean Sea). Archaeologist Sir Arthur Evan excavated this location in the 1940s and has paved the way for new insights into the mystery of Atlantis as something far beyond a morality tale.

Bob Harrison currently teaches history classes at COCC. He recently gave a fascinating two-part lecture on Alexander the Great.

Please note: the dates for these lectures may need to be adjusted to our speaker’s schedule. Updates and preregistration will be announced via email and classroom announcements.

15,000 Years of Oregon’s High Desert Archaeology

Eugene/Springfield–This PowerPoint assisted presentation documents our current understanding of the archaeology of central Oregon’s high desert. Drawing from 30 years of excavation, survey, and laboratory analysis experiences, Dennis Jenkins walks the viewer through a fascinating and colorful slide presentation of the cultural ecology and evolutionary development of prehistoric societies as documented by scientific analysis of archaeological materials he has recovered from sites in the Fort Rock and Summer Lake basins and other places in central Oregon.

Dennis Jenkins is a senior research archaeologist for the Museum of Natural and Cultural History at the UO, where he received his PhD in 1991. A native Oregonian, Jenkins was raised in Las Vegas, Nevada, where he earned his BA in 1977 and MA in 1981 at UNLV. Jenkins has taught and directed the UO’s Northern Great Basin archaeological field school in central Oregon since 1989. His research focuses on the first colonization of the Americas, obsidian sourcing and hydration, prehistoric shell bead trade, and settlement-subsistence patterns of the Northern Great Basin. Jenkins is an active researcher with publications in such prestigious journals as Science and Nature. He has made numerous appearances in television documentaries, and is internationally recognized for the identification of ancient human DNA in Pre-Clovis coprolites more than 14,000 years old, the oldest directly dated human remains in the Americas and received the coveted Earle A. Chiles Award from the High Desert Museum in Bend in 2009.