Significant Fremont Indian pit house unearthed in Goshen
BYU anthropology students excavating 1,000-year-old site
Sam Penrod, Deseret News
GOSHEN, Utah County — For all of his life, Richard Wolf has lived and farmed property near Goshen. He and his father have raised cattle for decades. As a child, he found arrowheads and grinders.
But Wolf never imagined that just below the surface was some incredible history.
For several months, the department of anthropology at BYU has been unearthing a Fremont Indian village at what is known as Wolf Village. It is located at the mouth of Goshen Canyon near Current Creek.
"It was really almost by chance we found this and excavated it, and it's in fact the largest Fremont pit structure ever excavated," said Jim Allison, professor of anthropology at BYU.
The Fremont culture is a pre-Columbian culture that inhabited sites in what is now Utah and parts of Nevada, Idaho and Colorado between 700 and 1300 A.D. They are known for their pottery, figurines and moccasins, as well as their use of farming.
What's unique about this structure is that it is not an individual pit house; rather it is a communal area, a place that brought the entire village together. It's not just the place where these people lived that is interesting, but the common items of their lives they left behind.
"There was actually a layer of prehistoric trash that was really rich in artifacts that we found," Allison said. "We have probably a couple of hundred arrowheads. There's animal bones from meals, residue of meals they were eating. We've got corn and beans out of it, lots of broken pottery."
"We have some radiocarbon dates, which tell us that the site was occupied probably in the 1000s A.D., probably between 1025 A.D. and 1100 A.D.," Allison said.
This is the fourth year of excavation at the site. Students have done most of the work.
"I ended up finding quite a few corn cobs, burnt kernels, whole cobs," said BYU student Daniel King. "You hear the voices crying from the dust, you want to go after it."
While the property has been in the Wolf family for generations, this reminds them they are stewards of the land. It's land that was occupied hundreds of years ago by a different people.
"It's been really a surprise to see what's been uncovered here — the artifacts, the bowls, the game pieces, the figurines they've found. It's just amazing," Wolf said.
Contributing: Viviane Vo-Duc
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