Archeologists Use Fire to Find Ancient Artifacts in Montana
Montana archaeologists have found a treasure trove of ancient human activity in the Hi-Line. According to BLM Archaeologist Josh Chase, his team is using prescribed burning and drones to examine artifacts dating all the way back to 750 AD
“The kinds of cultural sites we have on the Hi-Line are predominately prehistoric and predominately stone,” said Chase, “We have been doing a lot of research with using prescribed fire to remove vegetation form those sites and then we utilized a couple different aerial platforms. We had a drone one year shooting multiple GIS points and this year we used a really specialized aircraft of a US Fish and Wildlife Service Sediment.”
In the 300 acres of the Henry Smith Archaeological site, Chase says they have found over 2,400 cultural features; that's one about every three to five feet, but the features were too difficult to see before the foliage was burned away.
“We have drive lines which is effectively a large stone fence that drives bison and buffalo jump,” Chase said. “We have lots of tipi rings, lots of habitation features, so things associated with everyday living of ancient people. There are some animal and human effigies within there so basically representations on the ground of people and animals. There are quite a few vision quest sites.”
Another prescribed burn occurred during Easter weekend and Chase says his team is still studying the aerial photos of the new burn which were taken last week. Chase says results of that burn and fly-over will be released in Great Falls this weekend at the Montana Archaeological Society Meeting.