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Role of Rocky Mountains in First Americans is UW Frison Lecture Topic Sept. 23

September 14, 2016
woman crouching in a field of wildflowers
Bonnie Pitblado

Bonnie Pitblado will discuss “The Role of the Rocky Mountains in the Peopling of the Americas” as part of the 18th annual Frison Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology/Wyoming Archaeology Awareness Month Lecture at the University of Wyoming.

Pitblado, anthropology professor and the Robert E. and Virginia Bell Chair in the University of Oklahoma Anthropology Department, will present her talk Friday, Sept. 23, at 4 p.m. in the UW College of Agriculture and Natural Resources auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.

The lecture is the last planned event for Wyoming Archaeology Awareness Month. The Office of the Wyoming State Archaeologist is posting a “Project of the Day” on its website.

Each day, the office posts a short project biography featuring recent or ongoing archaeological investigations across the state. The bios provide updates on current research, highlight the breadth of individuals involved in archaeological inquiry statewide, and showcase the diversity of the archaeological record in Wyoming, says Judy Wolf, from the State Historic Preservation Office, located at UW. She is the Planning and Historic Context Development Program chief.

Wyoming projects can be viewed at

In her lecture, Pitblado says that people first moved into the landscapes of the Americas approximately 13,000 years ago. Most researchers have thought it unlikely that the Rocky Mountains would be prized by these first Americans, she adds. Pitblado says this has been a significant oversight and that the Rockies have been important to people since at least the Clovis time.

She will discuss three related subjects: reasons that archaeologists should have been quicker to recognize the appeal of the Rockies to early hunter-gatherers; evidence for the timing and nature of the earliest human occupation of the Rockies; and most importantly -- yet perhaps least intuitively -- the character of the northeast Asian landscape that first Americans left behind.

For more information, call the UW Department of Anthropology at (307) 766-5136.

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