Path Home Shows 2014 Show Archive September 2014 Show 1439 Buffalo Bones Uncovered

Buffalo Bones Uncovered

Value Added: A stay at the Flying W Guest Ranch can be a truly historical experience. It offers guests not only Old West opportunities, but also a look at a real archaeological dig.
Buffalo Bones Uncovered

Buffalo Bones Uncovered

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Flying W Guest Ranch

Oklahoma Anthropological Society

Show Details

Show 1439: Buffalo Bones Uncovered
Air Date: September 28, 2014

 

Transcript

Amanda Fisher: One staple of the Wild West was the buffalo. A former landowner discovered something that guests now get to help uncover.

Don Whinery: He saw a bunch of bones sticking out of a cliff, so he got a hold of the OU archaeological department. They came out, checked it out and found out they were buffalo bones. They dated back to about 2,000 years old, so that started a brand new kick-off.

Amanda: As part of the experience here at the ranch, guests have the opportunity to put their hands on a real piece of history. Our Alisa Hines is helping dig up the past.

Alisa Hines: Set against the cliffs of the Flying W Guest Ranch is the largest bison kill site in the southern Plains. Archaeologists estimate over 800 bison were slaughtered here by early Native Americans.

Natalie: They killed them with spears. This was before bow and arrow, and then they did all this butchering.

Alisa: Natalie is part of an OU archaeology team that is painstakingly unearthing all these bones to get a closer look into the lives of the earliest Oklahomans.

Natalie: Each student is assigned a 1-by-1 to work in and they slowly -- and this process takes weeks and weeks as, you know, they slowly dig down and uncover the bones.

Alisa: One reason the work is so slow is the way the archaeologists have to uncover the bones.

Natalie: And we use bamboo and brushes to very slowly remove the dirt. Our students find it a little hard to work with because it’s like digging in concrete, and not only are we not able to use metal tools, we have to pick away at this concrete like we’re trying to remove a sidewalk around the bones.

Alisa: They then sift the dirt to find tiny pieces of bones and other items they would otherwise miss.

Natalie: And we find teeny, tiny little flakes from the stone tools they used to butcher these animals under here; it’s typically quartzite. And so that is another reason to be very careful. These teeny, tiny flakes are smaller than my smallest fingernail.