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A Natural and Cultural History of Leonard Rockshelter, NV
AuthorSturtz, Sara Nicole
AdvisorSmith, Geoffrey M.
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Leonard Rockshelter (LRS) is located in Pershing County, Nevada. Robert Heizer excavated the site in 1950 and reported more than 2 m of stratified deposits from which he recovered a modest assemblage of perishable and lithic artifacts. Of interest to the University of Nevada Reno’s Great Basin Paleoindian Research Unit (GBPRU) was Heizer’s discovery of obsidian flakes in deposits dated to 11,200±570 14C BP (14,900-11,610 cal BP). This possibility of a stratified Pleistocene occupation prompted the GBPRU to return to LRS in 2018 and 2019 for additional work, which produced few artifacts but a sizeable small mammal assemblage. In this thesis, I test two hypotheses: (1) the small mammal assemblage provides a paleoenvironmental record that demonstrates changing local conditions during the Terminal Pleistocene and Holocene; and (2) the shelter contains evidence of human occupation dating to the Terminal Pleistocene. My results demonstrate that the Early Holocene and initial Middle Holocene were more mesic than later periods. They also suggest that people did not occupy LRS until the Early Holocene, after which time they periodically returned to the site.