Archaeology and Social Geography in the Sunlight Basin, Wyoming
Painter Cave (48PA3288) is a dry rockshelter in the foothills of the Absaroka Mountains of northwestern Wyoming that has deeply stratified deposits. Archaeological materials were disturbed several decades ago by looters, who reportedly took a number of perishable Native American artifacts including moccasins and a cradle board, as well as numerous other unidentified objects. Preliminary assessment by Shoshone National Forest Service personnel in 2011 suggested that the site might still be partially intact. Indiana Universityâs Bighorn Archaeology project conducted a pilot study at Painter Cave and the surrounding area in 2014 in an effort to identify and recover any additional cultural deposits. Artifact recovery addressed local landscape use, cultural chronology of the area, subsistence strategies, and environmental conditions. The looter activity unfortunately proved to be extensive. Although team members identified numerous archaeological signatures at different sites in the study area, primary deposits in the shelter itself were disturbed in such a way that investigation into the use of Painter Cave by past peoples was challenging.