Some 11,000 years ago members of the Great Basin Desert Culture left behind fascinating evidence of their existence at a site known as Danger Cave, less than two miles east of West Wendover. Renowned University of Utah archaeologist Jesse D. Jennings first explored the cave in 1949 and over the next several years directed extensive excavations there.
Despite the challenging working conditions at Danger Cave, which included blinding and choking dust, Jennings and his crew persevered until they finished excavating in 1955. The extremely dry cave had created an ideal storage condition that preserved a variety of fascinating artifacts from beetle wings to textiles and human coprolites. They also found leather scraps, pieces of string, nets of twine, coarse fabric, basket fragments, and bone and wood tools such as knives, weapons, and millstones.
Amazingly, the excavation also yielded identifiable fragments of 68 plant species that still grow today within ten miles of the cave as well as the bones of many species of animals. In an effort to date the variety of inhabitants that had used the cave over its expansive history Jennings sent samples from every major stratum to Chicago for Carbon-14 dating. The age of the oldest material-over 11,000 years-surprised even Jennings and exceeded in age all but a few of the excavated sites in North America.
The earliest known inhabitants were members of what has been termed the Desert Archaic Culture —nomadic hunter-gatherers with developed basketry, flaked-stem stone tools, and implements of wood and bone. They inhabited the region between 10,000 B.C. and A.D. 400. These peoples moved in extended family units, hunting small game and gathering the periodically abundant seeds and roots in a slightly more cool and moist Great Basin environment.
Tours are limited and reservations must be made in advance.
For more information go to https://metcalfdangercavetours.com/
Or call Ron Rood at 801- 243-1306
Cost: $18 for adults, $12 for kids under 15; Kids under 8 are FREE.
Scheduled tours for May 26 and June 16 that have space available. You can also set up special tours for your group, organization or event. Contact Ron for details.