The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

Cultural Resources Management Archaeology: M.S.




College of Liberal Arts

First Advisor

Mark Muñiz

Second Advisor

Matthew Tornow

Third Advisor

Michael Fosha

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

Bison, Bonebed, Early Archaic, Great Plains, South Dakota


The Licking Bison Site (39HN570) is located in Harding County, South Dakota and dates to 5570±30 14C yr BP (6406-6301 cal yr BP), during the Early Archaic period. The site was discovered in 1994 and excavated between 1995 and 2000 by the South Dakota State Archaeological Research Center (SARC). The Early Archaic corresponds with a period of warm and dry climatic conditions on the Northern Great Plains often referred to as the Altithermal. Archaeological sites from this time are relatively rare compared to both earlier and later periods. The Licking Bison Site is one of only two known bison kill sites from the Early Archaic of the region, and as such it has the potential to provide valuable information on prehistoric ways of life during the arid climatic conditions, as well as providing data about bison evolution. The faunal collection, housed at SARC, was analyzed to identify the species of bison, herd demographics (age, sex, MNI), and season of death. The excavated portion of the bonebed contained at least twenty-two individual bison killed and butchered by Early Archaic peoples in a single late fall kill event. The herd most likely consisted of predominately adult females, juveniles, and calves. Analysis of metacarpals shows at least four adult females and one adult male in the assemblage. The species of bison could not be identified due to a lack of well-preserved crania, but postcranial metrics suggest a possible slight trend towards Bison bison-sized individuals.



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