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The Saint Charles River project: an exploration of prehistoric trade, exchange and Apishapa architectural patterning in southeastern Colorado




Evans, Charles Edward, author
LaBelle, Jason, advisor
Coleman, Rocky, committee member
Vanburen, Mary, committee member

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The Saint Charles River Project (SCRP) involved the exploration of two rock shelters, and the recordation of five sites that exhibit architectural features near Beulah, Colorado. The construction styles coupled with the physiographic placement of the architectural features along the SCR are indicative of the Apishapa phase (Withers 1954), which occurs between A.D. 1050 - 1450 throughout the greater Arkansas River Basin (ARB). GIS analysis of the geospatial patterning of these sites indicates a significant preference for architectural site selection based on proximity to river access down to the Saint Charles River as well as the view of the surrounding terrain and proximity to water. No evidence was collected during the SCRP supporting the argument of the defensive nature and subsequent placement of these prehistoric architectural features on the landscape. All thermal features recorded are external to the architectural features, which imply a seasonality use, not a year round occupation. This in turn points toward mobility on the landscape that is reinforced by the geochemical evidence of trade or exchange found at the sites reported here. Trade or exchange is demonstrated by the presence of the following exotic materials: Alibates from the Northern Panhandle of Texas, obsidian from Malad, Idaho, obsidian from Northern New Mexico, as well as a Catlinite pipe fragment from Southwestern Minnesota. The sites reported here, help to define the previously unknown western boundary of the Apishapa Phase occupation in Southeastern Colorado, and further help to define the southwestern boundary of trade and exchange throughout the Great Plains during the Late Prehistoric period from A.D. 100 -. 1175.


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Apishapa Phase
prehistoric trade and exchange


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