New Discoveries: February 2019

I visited the cave I’d discovered some while ago to check on it, make sure it was undisturbed. To give you an idea of how easy it is to miss things in country like this, I walked right past it and had to backtrack even knowing it was there. It’s that well hidden.

In fact, I had missed part of the site on my initial discovery. I found a second separate site 50 feet to the east of the cave. This one has a small clear area ringed with rock and a single petroglyph that mirrors another I’d documented at a site around ten miles as the crow flies from here. 

I also came across some beefy chunks of bone that indicate a larger animal’s presence. I’m guessing these are far later than the site because the desert sun degrades even bone and I doubt anything would be left of any carcass from centuries ago.

The first two photos below are of the main cave. In the third photo, my first find is outlined in blue, my latest discovery is in red and I’ve provided an inset of the petroglyph located there. The fourth photo is a higher resolution image of the petroglyph. You can click on them for a larger, more detailed view. 

To the right of the main cave I noticed a flat spur of rock about three feet from the ground. It made for a pretty convenient seat. Coincidentally, It was also at the spot where most of the obsidian flakes and the arrowhead are located. It is easy to imagine the toolmaker knapping and gazing out at the vast landscape beyond. These moments of insight or at least imagination help take an interesting archaeological discovery and, in some ways, an abstraction to a more human level. Glimpses into the lifestyle, not just scattered bits of a forgotten people. 

This trip my aim was to hike the entire canyon to see if there were any other traces of the Coso people further in. There were a few basalt outcrops I’d glimpsed up canyon that appeared to have potential. This, I did, without finding anything else. However, I detoured to a very interesting outcropping approximately a mile from the cave. It was of paler rock and very weathered and “geographic”, featuring many alcoves and interesting nooks and crannies. It didn’t take long to spot the telltale signs of paleolithic habitation: the cleared area, the low rock walls and the glitter of obsidian flakes. 

A short distance to the northeast was a second cleared area but much less sheltered. The view from this particular shelter is absolutely stunning, looking out over a wilderness of volcanic rock to snowclad mountains in the distance. 

After having discovered these sites, it has made me intensely curious about the Coso people. Very little is known about them. They’ve left fragments and glyphs, in some cases mortars. We don’t know how they dealt with their dead, why they established shelters in some locations (usually near a water source, but this second one isn’t), what language they spoke, what their social structure was. Even the Paiute and Shoshone people native to the region confess no knowledge of them. I’d like know more. So I’ll sift through the ephemeral cues, sit in old places and think. 


Note: I am deliberately vague regarding locations and do not post photos of these locations within their geographic context in order to keep them secret and safe. I leave all sites undisturbed.