Date of this Version
Recent archaeological research in High Plains archaeology focuses on aspects of landscape and identifying areas that likely registered as “places” in the minds of past peoples. Agate Fossil Beds National Monument in Sioux County, Nebraska is located in an area wealthy in multi-component sites and a rich research history. Yet so many of the features common at neighboring sites are missing from this area. Based on what Agate Fossil Beds National Monument lacks, researchers refer to this area as transitional, merely a crossroads between places.
However, Agate Fossil Beds National Monument contains multiple desirable resources such as a perennial water supply (local springs and the Niobrara River), as well as tabular deposits of Upper Harrison Formation Moss Agate. Past research within the monument shows that past peoples occupied this portion of the Nebraska High Plains from the earliest known prehistoric archaeological culture until historic times. Was Agate Fossil Beds just a crossroads to other locations as has been suggested? Or did something else make this area a persistent destination for native peoples? This thesis relies on a landscape approach, as well as recent archaeological research investigating issues of time and place, with a chipped stone tool analysis to explore the answer to this problem.