Archaeological reconnaissance reveals early occupation in Soda Mountain Wilderness Area

Ron Gregory reached down to pull an obsidian flake from the black earth on the former Box-O Ranch in the Soda Mountain Wilderness Area.

"You can see there was some flaking done on this," he said as he slowly turned it over in his hand.

Brushing away more dirt, the archaeologist for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's Medford District revealed two more pieces of the glossy black rock. Once used to make stone age tools and arrowheads by North American Indians, the igneous rock is not native to the area, he noted.

"No two forms of obsidian have the exact same kind of minerals. You can take cuts off this and have an analysis done to find the source."

Gregory and Meagan O'Neill, archaeologist for the BLM's Ashland and Butte Falls resource areas, are helping document both historic and prehistoric human occupation in this high mountain valley in the 24,100-acre wilderness created by Congress a year ago.

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