Skip to main content Skip to navigation
Museum of Anthropology Squirt Cave (45WW25)

Summary of Artifacts

The cave was excavated in arbitrary 20 cm levels, and did not follow the natural stratigraphy of the cave. Endacott (1992:122-125) analyzed artifact distribution with respect to natural stratigraphy. Stratigraphy is not consistent within the cave: sediments were deepest at the front of the cave and much more compressed and indistinct near the back of the cave. All of the storage pits were dug into stratum number one, five were dug through stratum number one into stratum number two, and their contents are considered belonging to stratum one. Over 65 percent of artifacts were recovered from this uppermost stratum, and only one chipped stone flake was recovered below stratum number 3.

Artifacts Recovered from Storage Pits (Source: Endacott 1992:42, Table 2)

Pit #

Artifact Type
1234567Total
Debitage20000002
Stone Tools00001113
Bone Tools00001214
Cordage530057121
Matting012*00104
Knotted/Twisted Bark00001102
Total 7420812336

*Two pieces of matting may have been used to line Pit #3 (Combes 1969).

 

Distribution of Artifact Classes by Excavation Units (Source: Endacott 1992:123, Table 11).

UnitGround Stone ToolsFlaked Stone ToolsDebitage*Incised Clay ObjectsBone Tools**Textiles

Wooden ItemsTotal
N / %
122001308 / 3.3
202200105 / 2.1
300000000 / 0.0
4284020016 / 6.6
5066043019 / 7.8
6066023017 / 7.0
70 1411221131 / 12.8
8065048124 / 9.9
9075112218 / 7.4
1011222109 / 3.7
1100003003 / 1.2
12162024015 / 6.2
13141040010 / 4.1
1403201006 / 2.5
1501201004 / 1.6
1600003003 / 1.2
1702402008 / 3.3
1801001002 / 0.8
1901000001 / 0.4
2003000014 / 1.6
210111022016 / 6.6
Unknown281922024 / 9.9
Total 992541439305243 / 100

* represents a sample; ** includes shell and antler

Absolute and Relative Dating

Endacott (1992:129) submitted five radiocarbon samples from four pits for dating. All five samples were from plant remains: four came from storage pit lining; one came from near or below storage pit number 2.

Radiocarbon Samples from Squirt Cave (Source: Endacott 1992:130)

Laboratory NumberProvenienceMaterial Dated14C Age B.P.
WSU-4206Storage Pit 5Graminae405±80
WSU-4207Storeage Pit 1AElymus sp.410±80
WSU-4259Near, below, or in Storage Pit 2Artemisia sp.570±80
WSU-4203Storage Pit 1DEquisetum sp.1070±200
WSU-4205Storage Pit 7Graminae1750±150

 

Endacott also submitted an sample of volcanic ash from 4 cm below ground surface near pit number 5. Glass chemistry identifies this sample as Mt. Mazama ash, dated to 6845±50. This tephra was probably displaced when the storage pit was dug through stratum number 3, which contains mixed tephra and loess.

 

Glass Chemistry of Squirt Cave Tephra (Source: Endacott 1992:130)

OxideSiO2Al2O3Fe2O3TiO2Na2O
K2OMgOCaOClTotal
Weight %73.1814.372.23
0.43
4.782.730.47
1.62
0.19
100.0
St. Dev.0.190.11
0.17
0.040.180.080.030.07
0.07

The artifact evidence for dating is inconclusive, with some similarity to Harder or Piqunin Phases (Leonhardy and Rice 1970). Artifacts below stratum number 1 suggest possible use during the Tucannon Phase. However, there is also a great deal of evidence for bioturbation or mixing.