Geoarchaeology of the Water Canyon Paleoindian site, west-central New Mexico

Vance T. Holliday, Robert D. Dello-Russo, Susan M. Mentzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Water Canyon is a rare buried, multicomponent, stratified Paleoindian site in west-central New Mexico. This paper presents a geoarchaeological assessment of the site as part of a broader interdisciplinary investigation of its paleoenvironmental history and archaeology. The archaeology is associated with ancient wetland deposits (Stratum 6) within an alluvial fan. The fan formed initially through the late Pleistocene. Formation of the fan stopped and wetland deposition began ~11,310 14C yr BP (~13,170 cal yr BP). Stratum 6 evolved via wetland deposition and cut-and-fill cycles. The bulk of Stratum 6 dates <10,300 14C yr BP (<12,200 cal yr BP). One, or possibly two, beds of bison bone, likely processing-stations, were found on the margin of the paleowetland and date to ~9,200 14C yr BP (~10,400 cal yr BP) (lower bone bed) and ~8,200 14C yr BP (~9,150 cal yr BP) (upper bone bed). Farther out in the paleo-wetland a probable kill site was discovered with an in situ Eden projectile point dated to at least ~8,955 14C yr BP (~10,070 cal yr BP). The wetland landscape returned to an alluvial fan system <8,000 14C yr BP (<8,900 cal yr BP) with two more cycles of fan deposition by ~6,500 cal yr.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)112-140
Number of pages29
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • Eden point
  • Paleoindian
  • alluvial fan
  • bison kill
  • bison processing
  • paleo-wetland

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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