ARCHAEOLOGY

VILLAGES IN THE SKY

The Wind River Range in the Rocky Mountains stretches 100 miles across northwesternWyoming and the Continental Divide, extending from the thick pine forests ofYellowstone National Park toward the vast grasslands ofthe Great Plains. Fromthe river valleys and lakes below, the peaks of the mighty “Winds” rise toward the sky, reaching 13,000 feet above sea level. These granite towers pierce the clouds and are surrounded by highaltitude plateaus dotted with tundra and remnants of Ice Age glaciers. From a distance, they appear imposing, barren, and hostile, but closer inspection reveals a vibrant scene—herds of bighorn sheep traversing the horizon, marmots peeking up from boulder fields, and clusters of ancient whitebark pines standing watch over it all.

On the outskirts of a scragglywhitebark pine forest at 11,000 feet above sea level in the northern stretch ofthe range, a plume of smoke rises from a campfire as lunch is prepared in cast iron cookware over the open flames. Tents are spread out across the alpine meadow, and the whinnies of horses echo against nearby cliffs. It is a scene reminiscent of a nineteenth-century frontier camp, except for the presence of a bright yellow surveying instrument and the metallic ting of trowels as archaeologists scrape them against the pebbly soil. The site, known as High Rise Village, is perched on a hillside that would make a challenging black-diamond ski run. It was a large settlement occupied by the seminomadic Shoshone people fromaround4,000 years ago until the nineteenth century Discovered in 2006 by University of Wyoming archaeologist Richard Adams, High Rise Village was the first and largest of nearly two dozen high-elevation villages to be identified in

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