The Wishbone Site: A Pleistocene Hearth from the Eastern Great Basin with the First Evidence for Human Use of Tobacco
Daron Duke, Ph.D., RPA with Far Western Anthropological Research Group, Inc.
In 2015, a cultural resource management survey for the U.S. Air Force identified a relict fire feature eroding from the floor of Utah's Great Salt Lake Desert. Radiocarbon dating places its use at ~12,300 years old, making this the earliest open‐air hearth found in the Great Basin. Within and immediately surrounding the hearth, we found waterfowl bone refuse, Haskett-style projectile points, and other tools, providing a critical new perspective on people's lives in this region during the Pleistocene. Of particular interest was the finding of charred tobacco seeds among the hearth contents, evidencing human use of this plant well before previously established and relatively soon after people arrived in the Americas.
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