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GUERNSEY, Wyo. (AP) – An archaeology team is digging for clues of early life in the high plains this summer at a site known as Hell Gap in southeastern Wyoming.

One goal is to find 8,000-year-old evidence and take radio carbon samples, Mary Lou Larson, a University of Wyoming archaeology professor.

Hell Gap was excavated during the 1960s by Harvard archaeologists, then examined again in the early 1990s. The earliest dates recorded at the site are about 11,500 years old.

The site is yielding important information about early man’s use of the area during winter, said George C. Frison, an archaeologist and fellow at the National Academy of Sciences.

“In most situations, these deposits have been scoured out and very little cultural evidence remains,” he said. “But here, we have a good record, and we can pretty well determine that this was used during the winter by these people.”

At the site, students are taught about high plains life. The site includes a visitor center, laboratory and metal building that protects the site year-round.

“We’ve had a lot of support from volunteers and donors who have made all this possible,” said Marcel Kornfeld, a UW professor and director of the George C. Frison Institute.

Over the next decade digs will center on an undisturbed area left by Harvard archaeologists.

“It’s important to understand how the valley has changed from the last Ice Age until modern times, and where the cultural materials come from,” Kornfeld said. “We hope to get at least some of those answers when we compare our excavations with those done by Harvard.”

The Frison Institute coordinates digs with the Wyoming Archaeological Society Foundation, which bought the site from private landowners in the 1980s to secure it for research.

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