Luther Cressman Slideshow

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Museum of Natural & Cultural History & State, Museum of Anthropology founder, UO Anthropology Department founder “Father of Oregon Archaeology”

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Presentation Transcript

Slide 1: 

Luther Cressman (1897-1994) Museum of Natural & Cultural History & State Museum of Anthropology founder UO Anthropology Department founder “Father of Oregon Archaeology” Paisley Cave #3, 1966

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In 1930, UO sociologist Luther Cressman was invited by a Gold Hill farmer to examine Indian burials exposed during field leveling. It was his first exposure to archaeology, thereafter his unwavering career path. Luther Cressman Obsidian dance blade, Southwest Oregon

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Cressman began writing to postmasters across the state, hoping to develop contacts with people who had knowledge of rock art sites; he followed this in 1932 with an extensive survey of Oregon pictographs and petroglyphs

Slide 4: 

Luther Cressman and geologist Howard Stafford Picture Rock Pass, Lake County, Oregon, ca. 1932

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From his early contacts with ranchers and amateur historians across the state, Cressman learned of southeast Oregon caves and rockshelters with the potential to hold a long record of the region’s human history

Slide 6: 

Catlow Cave Excavation 1938

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Catlow Valley Expedition, ca. 1938

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Pair of child’s sagebrush bark sandals Catlow Cave, 1938

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Much of Cressman’s early fieldwork was done more than a decade before the development of radiocarbon dating. Many of these important fiber artifacts have now been radiocarbon dated. Child’s sagebrush bark sandals, Catlow Cave , 900 yrs old

Slide 10: 

Tule sandal, Roaring Springs Cave 1530 yrs old

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Sagebrush bark sandal, Catlow Cave 9350 yrs old

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Sagebrush bark and hemp twining, Catlow Cave, 9610 yrs old

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Luther Cressman & Field Crew, ca. 1938

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Most of his contemporaries ridiculed the idea. Fort Rock Cave, 1938 Mt. Mazama ash, 7500 yrs old Sagebrush bark sandals ca. 9500 yrs old Based on the discovery of sandals beneath ancient volcanic ash at Fort Rock Cave, Cressman proposed a then-radical idea that people had lived in Oregon for as long as 10,000 years.

Slide 15: 

Mt. Mazama ash, 7500 yrs old Sagebrush bark sandals ca. 9500 yrs old A dozen years after discovery of the sandals at Fort Rock Cave, the development of radiocarbon dating proved Cressman right.

Slide 16: 

Sagebrush bark sandal Fort Rock Cave , 9490 yrs old

Slide 17: 

Cressman field camp, ca. 1938

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Trained as a sociologist, Cressman recognized his shortcomings in geology, botany, zoology, and other fields critical to archaeology. He sought the input of specialists, launching the multidisciplinary approach to research that became his standard. Cressman party studying ancient lake sediments in Catlow Valley, ca. 1938

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Cressman also investigated the Paisley Caves, in the Summer Lake Basin, where he found cultural material in apparent association with the bones of extinct Pleistocene mammals

Slide 20: 

Museum Archaeology Crew

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Museum crews returned to the Paisley Caves in the last decade, to investigate the terminal Pleistocene human occupations

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Tule sandal, Paisley Cave #1 1520 yrs old

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Grass sandal, Paisley Cave #2 1050 yrs old

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Tule sandal, Paisley Cave #2 2250 yrs old

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Braided Sagebrush bark rope Paisley Caves 12,000 yrs old

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Paisley Caves Desiccated human feces (identified by DNA) 14,340 yrs old Photo by Brian Lanker

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Paisley Caves carved tool on bone of extinct bear 14,230 yrs old

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In the late 1940s Cressman made an extensive study of Klamath Basin pit houses and villages

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Cressman with Klamath boys, Kamkaun Spring, 1949

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Kamkaun Spring Klamath Basin, 1949

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Cressman’s students at Netarts Sand Spit Site 1957 excavation Housepit 12 Cressman’s research took him to the coast by 1950

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Netarts Sand Spit Site (35TI1) 1958 excavation, Housepit 13 The UO’s first Ph.D. in anthropology was awarded for work by Cressman’s student at Netarts in 1959

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Cressman in 1952 at the Bandon Sandspit Site

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Cressman in 1952 at the Bandon Sandspit Site

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Cressman’s crews turned to the Columbia River when dam-building threatened sites in the 1940s and ’50s (Roadcut site at The Dalles)

Slide 36: 

10,000 year sequence at The Dalles Roadcut Site, Late 1950s

Slide 37: 

Luther Cressman & Crew, evening meeting The Dalles, late 1950s

Slide 38: 

Fort Rock Cave Kamkaun Spring Road Cut Site Netarts Site Bandon Sandspit Roaring Springs & Catlow Caves Paisley Caves A small selection of Cressman’s research areas UO MNCH

Slide 39: 

Cressman planning the original Museum, mid 1950s Preserving Oregon’s Cultural Legacy

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and the Legacy Continues . . .