Floatation Analysis At Paulina Lake

By Arden Lynch, grade 9, Logan Gose, grade 7, Connor Lynch grade 6, Fall 2020

Paulina Lake Archaeological Site

9,500 years ago, the people who lived in central Oregon were very different from the ones who live there today. Archaeologists believe they were part of the Windust culture. That means that they were foragers who were capable of processing food and other resources. The population was sparse, and the people had to cross great distances to contact and trade with others. They would travel in the same pattern every year. In the summer, they would travel to higher elevations to hunt and gather resources, and they spent their winter in caves or other rock shelters. Also, they were very mobile (that means that they moved around a lot) and traveled more than sixty miles on foot! They created tools out of obsidian and bone, and built teepee or wickiup-like houses with lodgepole pine posts.
In central Oregon there is a lake called Paulina Lake. On the shores of the lake is an archaeological site that contains possibly one of the oldest dwellings in North America. The dwelling is 9,500 years old. The dwelling was most likely a wickiup or a teepee-like structure made with lodgepole pine posts. This site is located in the Newberry volcanic caldera. This site was a residential base camp used in the summer for gathering and hunting resources which were used during the winter.
Inside the dwelling archaeologists found the hearth. The hearth was located near the center of the dwelling and was nearly three feet wide and one foot deep. When archaeologists used water floatation and pollen analysis, they found evidence that there were chokecherries, hazelnuts, blackberries and fernleaf biscuitroot being cooked or used next to the hearth.
At Paulina Lake, the ancient hunter/gatherers already had tools they made at Fort Rock Basin, sixty miles away, during their stay there in the winter. But most of the tools they made were destroyed from all the hunting and gathering. At Paulina Lake they made new tools out of obsidian from the previous volcanic eruption of Mount Mazama. Archaeologists found many tools at Paulina Lake archaeological site, some include hammerstones, handstones, grinding slabs, and Windust projectile points. Based on blood residue of tools that the ancient hunter/gatherers used, archaeologists found that they hunted bison, rabbit, deer, bear, mountain sheep, and elk.
Two thousand years after the first evidence of human activities at the Paulina Lake site, a nearby volcano, Mount Mazama, erupted again. The ash from the eruption buried the area, causing the plants to be less productive, which caused many of the animals to leave. This caused Paulina Lake to be a less suitable home. The site was used less often, mainly to hunt around the lake and gather obsidian, and the people who lived in the Paulina Lake area were forced to move more often to find food and resources.

Works Cited

Oregon Archaeology
Melvin Aikens, Thomas Connolly, and Dennis Jenkins
Oregon State University Press, Corvallis Oregon, 2011

Early and Middle Holocene Archaeology in the Northern Great Basin
Dennis Jenkins, Thomas Connolly and Melvin Aikens
University of Oregon, Jan. 1, 2004

Exploring Oregon’s Past
Bureau of Land Management, Oregon State Office

“Remains of House in Oregon May Be Most Ancient in U.S.”
Thomas Maugh
Los Angeles Times, Oct. 10, 1998

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