Dr. Dennis Jenkins’ will share a colorful presentation explaining the scientific processes and results of archaeological and paleogenetic investigations at the Paisley Caves on Thursday, February 1, 2018 7:00 pm in CWU’s Science II Building room 103. Dr. Jenkins will bring the audience the most up-to-date information about controversial evidence for the pre-Clovis (13,000 years ago) interaction of humans and Pleistocene plants and animals in Oregon’s high desert country more than 14,000 years ago.
The Paisley Caves complex is a system of four caves in an arid, desolate region of south-central Oregon, north of the present-day city of Paisley, Oregon. The caves are located in the Summer Lake basin at 4,520 feet elevation and face to the west in a ridge of Miocene and Pliocene era basalts mixed with soft volcanic tuffs and breccias, from which the caves were carved by Pleistocene-era waves from Summer Lake. One of the caves may contain archaeological evidence of the oldest definitively-dated human presence in North America. The site was first studied by Luther Cressman in the 1930s.
Dr. Luther Cressman’s 1938-1940 excavations at the Paisley Caves in south-central Oregon discovered exciting evidence suggesting that people may have lived there as early as the Late Pleistocene, some 12,000 to 15,000 years ago. However, it was not until recent developments in Ancient DNA testing that he was proven correct. Dating of camel and horse bones, artifacts, twigs, and dried human feces containing Native American DNA between 12,900 and 14,500 years ago indicates that people lived in the caves and probably hunted camels, horses, and other animals at the end of the Pleistocene.
Thursday, February 1, 2018
7:00 pm in CWU’s Science II Building room 103
Lecture sponsored by the Ellensburg Chapter of the Ice Age Floods Institute & CWU Geological Sciences
Dr. Dennis Jenkins is a Senior Research Archaeologist II for the Museum of Natural and Cultural History at the University of Oregon where he received his PhD in 1991. A native Oregonian, he was raised in Las Vegas, Nevada where he earned his BA (1977) and MA (1981) in anthropology at UNLV. He has taught and directed the UO’s annual 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. He is an active researcher with publications in such prestigious journals as Science and Nature. He has made 12 appearances in television documentaries aired on History Channel, National Geographic, Oregon Public Broadcasting, Canadian Broad Casting, the Archaeology Channel, Danish TV, and Japanese TV. Jenkins has authored, co-authored, and edited 8 books, >80 journal articles, chapters, reviews, and professional reports. He has presented >70 papers at professional conferences and served as conference and symposium chairs for the Great Basin Anthropological Conference and Northwest Anthropological Conference. He 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, at the Paisley Caves in the Summer Lake basin of south-central Oregon.