In The Media

Kevin Gilmore’s Research on 13th-Century Cultures Featured in Premier Archaeological Publication

The journal American Antiquity — the premier publication for North American archaeology — recently highlighted the research of HDR’s Kevin Gilmore, Ph.D., RPA.

Gilmore, who is archaeology program manager at HDR, co-authored an article titled, “Isotopic Evidence for Long-Distance Connections of the AD Thirteenth-Century Promontory Caves Occupants.” The article demonstrates how sophisticated materials analysis can be used to answer archaeological questions about the movements of people in the distant past. This study was based on the chemical analysis of carbon isotopes within the hide used by prehistoric people to make clothing, such as moccasins.

“Honestly, if you’ve worked in North America, that’s the pinnacle,” Gilmore said. “To see your name in American Antiquity is really a career high point for me.”

Gilmore’s contribution to the article focused on his nearly 20 years of work on the collections from Franktown Cave in the University of Denver Museum of Anthropology. Franktown Cave, located 25 miles south of Denver, and Promontory Cave, located north of Salt Lake City, are two of a handful of archaeological sites where Promontory Culture occupations have been identified.

What makes Franktown Cave and Promontory Caves unique are the presence of many artifacts made from perishable materials like animal hide, wood and fiber that are rarely preserved in archaeological sites not sheltered from the elements. Because it yielded items that usually decay quickly, the Franktown Cave Collection is one of the most significant archaeological collections in Colorado.

“Kevin’s research shows great passion,” said John Duschang, environmental science and planning cross sector director. “It takes a tremendous attention to detail to use carbon dating of bison moccasin leather to advance our understanding of the 13th-century social landscape of highly mobile groups in the American Southwest and Great Plains.”

HDR’s cultural resources professionals are adept in all aspects of survey, mitigation, monitoring and reporting requirements for archaeology, ethnography, architectural history, history and historic architecture. They possess proven track records with historic preservation offices and tribal communities, which allow them to work through consultation processes and maintain schedules. Research keeps cultural resources professionals up to date with the cutting-edge developments in archaeological science, and publishing this research not only keeps them engaged with the broader archaeological community but also provides information on archaeology to an interested public.