"An innovative look at the archaeology of a region (the Central Great Plains) through a longitudinal study of human occupation in a specific place—Denver, Colorado. It is an exciting, well-written account that sheds light on how people have survived changes in climate, plant life, animals, and human events over the past 14,000 years."—ChoiceSelected by Choice magazine as an Outstanding Academic Title
Imagine one of Denver's defining locations, the juncture of the South Platte River and Cherry Creek, as it might have looked at different periods in the past. Around 12,000 B.C. groups of Paleoindians, clad in leather clothing, might have passed by while following the herds of mammoth or bison they hunted for meat, skins, bone, and sinews. A few millennia later the trees along the riverbanks might have provided shade under which Archaic people would rest, full baskets of plums beside them and a few rabbits caught in their nearby snares. Later still, a group from the Early Ceramic period, wearing beads of eagle bone and red and yellow pigments on their faces, might have followed Cherry Creek to the South Platte River to attend a funeral at a neighboring village of some relatives.
Denver: An Archaeological History is a vivid account of the prehistory and history of the area as it is revealed in the archaeological record. The authors set the scene with a detailed description of the natural environment, outlining the changes that have taken place in geological features, climate, and plant and animal life over the last five hundred thousand years. Concise summaries of the area's major prehistoric sites, as well as what archaeologists have learned about the lives of Denver's early inhabitants, also provide essential background material for this expansive journey through the region's past.
Nelson's synthesis of interpretations of data from archaeological sites and documentary evidence brings the region to life, including Denver's prehistory, Coronado's expedition in 1540, the discovery of gold in the region in the 1850s, and up to the present. Here is a fascinating narrative that explores the breadth and depth of Denver's cultural heritage.
Sarah Milledge Nelson is John Evans Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at the University of Denver.