"Stiger shows how the high country's most common site type, the shallow multi-component lithic scatter, also can contribute essential information."
—Journal of the West
"A unique and thorough contribution."
—David A. Breternitz, Professor Emeritus, University of Colorado
Hunter-Gatherer Archaeology of the Colorado High Country offers data on 8,000 years of cultural change across a wide area of western Colorado and updates archaeological methodology in the mountain West.
Synthesizing research from several important, previously neglected sites, the book anchors its findings in a massive body of data that Mark Stiger gathered over eight years at Tenderfoot—a large lithic-scatter site once categorized as insignificant. Advances in spatial analysis, theoretical approaches, and excavation methods have allowed lithic-scatter sites, once considered less revealing than intact structures and similar sites, to yield startlingly rich cultural evidence.
Presenting artifactual data that reflects changes in houses, game drives, fire pits, stone tools, and debitage, Stiger explains the cultural sequence in the Upper Gunnison Basin and its connections to changes across the West. He relates environmental and cultural changes, relying on paleoenvironmental evidence, changes in floral and faunal usage patterns, and data recovered in multi-year, repetitive surface collections. An overview and critique of past research in the region complements discussion of the advantages of horizontally extensive block excavations and other contemporary ways of excavating and analyzing surface sites.
Stiger's findings hold promise for future research, as high-altitude surface sites are common, under-researched, and relatively well-preserved. The advances in archaeological method and theory that enabled Stiger's outstanding results in the Upper Gunnison Basin will allow many other Western sites to yield fascinating evidence.