Archaeologists Dig Deeper into Wyoming’s Mummy Cave

You may not have heard of the Mummy Cave near Cody, but it’s a very famous archaeological site.

Researchers are re-examining the artifacts that were un-earthed more than 50 years ago.

In the mid-sixties, archaeologists found the remains of a human in a bluff shelter in the Shoshone National Forest near Yellowstone.
The mummy, as they called it, is estimated to be about a thousand years old. The excavation also revealed human artifacts left there for as long as ten thousand years.

The site is called Mummy Cave and is well known by archaeologists all over the world.

The mummy has been kept in a vault at the center of the west for decades. It is not on display though.

The remains may be returned to the Indian tribe that claims them in the future.

This week two archaeologists examined, measured, and photographed the artifacts found in Mummy Cave a half century ago.

Dr. Larwrence Todd reported, “Mummy Cave is unique in this area because it has layer, after layer, after layer of occupations through about ten thousand years of time.”

Dr. Todd, from Meeteetse, is an expert on ice melt archaeology in the mountains of northwest Wyoming.

“We’re using that time yardstick to make sure when we’re looking at other sites out on the landscape around Mummy Cave, we can tie that into our time sequence. So Mummy Cave is like our dictionary.”

Another archaeologist, Rachel Reckin shared, “Larry and I both get really excited about this stuff because we are fascinated by the pre-history of this part of the world.”

Rachel Reckin is from Montana, but she is studying for her doctorate in Britain. She flew back to Cody, to get the chance to examine Mummy Cave’s specimens. She says there is emerging science on the high altitude archaeology being revealed by recent ice and snow melts in the Yellowstone area.

“That’s an area we have known so little about and we are filling in that gap so we understand that better.”

Todd and Reckin are working quickly to get as much information as they can from the Mummy Cave artifacts. As they do, they find surprises, like, “There’s a soapstone pipe, and it’s an artifact that’s fairly rare that hadn’t been reported in the publications on the site.”

The scientists are headed to Laramie to do more research on collections at the University of Wyoming.

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