Did you know that the iconic Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre a beloved destination since the early 1900s (and since time immemorial for Indigenous populations) has never undergone an official archaeological survey? 😲
It's quite the jaw-dropping revelation! We were just as amazed when we found out!
First day of field season 2023. Jasmine (right) and Jess's (left), June 2023.
Imagine the excitement as we got the chance to embark on archaeological survey at Red Rocks Park over the past two seasons. A big shoutout to Shannon Dennison, the visionary Director of Denver Mountain Parks, who not only who not only treasures our cultural heritage but believes in the essential link between responsible land management and safeguarding our past.
Curious about the origins of our involvement? Dive into the fascinating backstory on this very blog!
We've been finding artifacts predominately from the early-mid 1900s. This era aligns perfectly with the park's less regulated past when people freely explored and picnicked across areas that are now off-limits due to preservation, safety, and the threat of vandalism.
Our recent survey centered on the heart of the park. Amidst drainages and fields, both modern and historic glass fragments peppered the landscape. From intiguing diagnostic glass bottle bases to beautiful amethyst glass fragments, each discovery tells a tale. Speaking of tales, picture this: nestled within the park's embrace was a narrow rock shelter, holding secrets like a broken mano and an amethyst vessel base. While the shelter's vegetation concealed more than we could glimpse (apart from an unexpected deer carcass 😟), the thrill of discovery was unparalleled.
But that's not all -- a newly recorded historic site proved to be filled with interesting treasures. We found amethyst and aqua glass sherds, vintage soda bottles, and variety of relics reminiscent of leisurely picnics and charming summertime gatherings.
**Preserving History, Safeguarding Artifacts:** Our mission is to safeguard the stories within these artifacts for the future. Though it might be tempting to collect them, our main duty is to keep them protected and in place, so their stories can keep teaching and inspiring people in the years ahead.
Here are some of the artifacts we found!
From right to left, starting at the top row:
Fully intact mason jar lid with a BOYD'S ceramic cap in the interior (ca. early 1900s).
Fragment of amethyst glass bowl base (ca. 1870s - 1930s).
Amethyst bottle with a missing base (ca. 1870s-1930s).
Early-stage quartzite biface fragment with multi-directional flake scars.
Aqua blue Coca-Cola glass bottle. Most likely dated to the 1940s-1950s; Coca-Cola was painted on the bottle beginning in the 1960s. Earliest appearance of an embossed Coca-Cola bottle is 1916.
Owens-Illinois (1929-1960) bottle base. The factory code is located to the left, the date to the right, and the mold cavity code is below the logo. This specific base dates to 1949.
An aqua blue glass insulator fragment.
A colorless glass Pepsi bottle fragment (ca. 1950s).
7Up green bottle glass fragment showing the bottom portion of the "bubble swimsuit girl" and the "7" (ca. 1940s).
This year we were thrilled to join forces with the Colorado Archaeological Society (CAS). Picture a diverse group of around ten, spanning ages and backgrounds. Some seasoned archaeology enthusiasts, while others were newcomers ignited by curiosity. The camaraderie was infectious as we shared the joys of teaching and experiencing archaeology alongside our local community members.
Members of the Colorado Archaeological Society, Denver Chapter, out in the field surveying with CCLLC.
As this season came to an end, it was the pre-contact artifacts that resonated most profoundly. The park's accessible nature in the early 1900s has obscured many artifacts, particularly those relating to Indigenous history. So, when we stumble upon Indigenous artifacts, the moment becomes exceptionally significant. This season blessed us with treasures like a biface, two flakes, and a mano – a genuine archaeological triumph for this season!
Jasmine (left) and Jess (right)
Our story doesn't end here. Stay engaged as we weave together the past and the present in a way that's both illuminating and deeply satisfying. Exciting adventures await, and in just two weeks, we'll be back with more captivating tales. Don't miss out – make sure you subscribe!
See you soon!
Jasmine & Jess (J&J) 🌳
➡️ In our next blog, get ready to dive into our partnership with Lakewood Historical Society. We'll unravel our role in making their citizen archaeology program, Guardians of Historic Lakewood, a tangible reality. Stay tuned!